T-Cells From Common Colds Could Help Create A ‘Variant-Proof’ Covid Vaccine 

According to new research from the Imperial College London, T-cells that are generated as part of the body’s natural immune response to the common cold could help protect against serious Covid-19 illness, and potentially lead to a vaccine that would be effective against new variants of the virus. 

The recently published study began back in September 2020 and followed 52 household contacts of people who had tested positive for Covid-19. The data showed that 26 people who were exposed to the virus, but didn’t show any symptoms, had significantly higher cross-reactive T-cells, which were generated by previous common colds.

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“The conclusion should not be that if you’ve had a common cold you don’t need to worry about contracting COVID-19. This is so for a number of reasons, including that not all colds are caused by coronaviruses, and T-cells’ ability to fight off symptomatic infections wanes over time,” Professor Aljit Lalvani, one of the authors of the study, explained. 

“What the study tells us is that there is a mechanism, a natural mechanism of natural protective immunity, that is triggered by previous common cold coronavirus infections, so we want to harness that naturally occurring protective immunity to develop better vaccines.”

Lalvani explained that the majority of the current Covid-19 vaccines out there specifically target the virus’ spike protein, as that’s the part that attacks healthy human cells. The vaccines then cause the body to produce antibodies and T-cells that can respond to that protein. 

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He then explained how the new research found that T-cells created after a common cold caused by other coronaviruses (which are common) can attack a type of protein that remains similar among all the known Covid-19 variants. These proteins are what give the virus the ability to replicate itself. 

“The fact that the T-cells can attack the internal proteins of each of these related COVID-19 variants means that they give what’s called a broad cross-protection. That’s in sharp contrast to the surface spike protein, which is the target of antibodies induced by vaccines.”

“Clearly, SARS-CoV-2 is under huge, intense pressure in the global population because most people now have these antibodies, whether induced by vaccination or infection, so the virus is trying naturally to evade that immunity through mutation, and that’s why Omicron has such a high number of mutations in the spike protein. But the internal proteins are relatively unchanged,” Lalvani stated. 

“We’re very fortunate to have found what immunologists refer to as the ‘Holy Grail,’ so we’re keen for people to understand this and to see that, at last, there is a path towards dealing with future variants.”

“This is now a definitive green light to move forward and develop a T-cell inducing vaccine to internal core proteins, which should protect against current and future variants,” he said.

Vitamin D

Foods That Provide Immune Support During A Pandemic

With the coronavirus pandemic still deeply impacting this planet, many are searching for ways that they can help keep themselves healthy from home. Obviously, immune support is one of the biggest concerns in terms of avoiding infection of this virus, and luckily there are a multitude of foods that have specific nutrients and vitamins that directly help your immune system function and grow stronger. 

It’s important to note that if you do contract the coronavirus, flu, or any other sort of viral infection, obviously medicine and seeking professional medical attention is the only real option for recovery. These foods in general are just known to boost your body’s immune response and can help your body strengthen in the case that you do get infected; but again, foods are not cures. 

Elderberries have been used as a homemade flu remedy for decades. The small berries are mainly known for being saturated in antioxidants. Any foods with antioxidants in them are extremely beneficial for fighting inflammation within the body. When you contract a virus such as Covid-19 or the flu, your immune system’s initial response is to heat up; hence the fevers, body chills and internal inflammation of your organs. Elderberries can help combat that heat and help your immune system respond to the virus quicker. 

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Button mushrooms are commonly eaten in salads or pasta dishes and they actually contain a lot of beneficial vitamins within them. Selenium, to be more specific, is what keeps your body feeling strong and functional throughout a given day. If you’ve ever had a really bad cold and have felt extremely weak and achy, it’s likely because your body is suffering from a selenium deficiency due to the infiltration of whatever virus your body is fighting off. Selenium has been proven to especially help your body when you have the flu, hence why it’s recommended for immune support more so now as well. 

Any sort of citrus fruit directly benefits your immune system as well. Oranges, lemons, limes, clementines, etc. they all contain a large amount of vitamin C in them. Vitamin C is known for helping your body create more white blood cells (the cells in your body that fight off infections). This is why it’s always recommended to drink some orange juice when you’re sick, to provide your body with even more nutrients and vitamins. It’s recommended that men should get at least 90 mg of vitamin C per day and women need at least 75 mg. 

Red bell peppers are also loaded with vitamin C and have the same impact as eating a citrus fruit. However, red bell peppers actually contain even more vitamin C than the average citrus fruit. 

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Garlic can be used as the base for practically every meal and luckily it contains certain nutrients that specifically aid the body in artery function. Your arteries tend to work less efficiently when your body’s busy fighting off a foreign virus, so eating garlic everyday can help ensure your arteries and veins are always strong and running smoothly. 

Broccoli is obviously one of the healthiest foods for you. It has a ton of essential vitamins in it that all directly impact your immune system. It also maintains these nutrients more if it’s eaten uncooked, so pick up some fresh broccoli next time you’re at the market!

Finally, having yogurt in the morning is an amazing source of protein, but more importantly, vitamin D. Vitamin D can also be absorbed into the body through sun exposure (always remember to wear an SPF or sunscreen). Vitamin D is similar to vitamin C in the sense that it’s often taken when one is sick with the cold or the flu. 

As previously stated, all of these foods are meant to help keep your immune system functioning properly and can definitely help your body fight off viral infection, however, if you or a loved one begins experiencing any sort of flu or Covid-19 symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Senior Couple

Super Immune Cells Found In World’s Oldest People

If you know someone who has defied the laws of time and is now living as a 110 year old or older, scientists may have figured out why these individuals are able to remain alive and normally functioning for so long. The term for someone who lives to 110 years old is known as a “supercentenarian,” according to a research study on these individuals performed by scientists in Japan.

“[Supercentenarians] have higher-than-typical concentrations of a particularly rare type of T helper cell in their blood. These immune cells might protect the oldest of the old against viruses and tumors, leaving them in remarkably fine health throughout their long life spans. The key will be to understand what is [the cells’] their natural target, which may help to reveal what is needed for a healthy, long life,” study co-authors Kosuke Hashimoto, Nobuyoshi Hirose and Piero Carninci wrote in a joint email to Live Science Magazine.

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The three co-authors who wrote and performed this study all are based in Japan. They are the first group of scientists to actually analyze the immune cells of supercentenarians. Life expectancy and longevity rates are generally very high in Japan so it makes sense that this is the location where the study occurred, as it most likely offered the greatest pool of subjects to be involved. However, they all noted that even in Japan, where life expectancy is on average 81 years for men and 87 years for women (based on government statistics) individuals who live to or past 110 years old are quite rare. The same government statistics/census data showed that there are, on average, 61,000 people over the age of 100 living in the country, but only 146 of that 61,000 are 110 or older. 

With such a small pool of individuals to choose from for this study, it obviously made the research difficult. According to the co-authors in the study, they used a group of seven supercentenarians and five control participants to compare and contrast the data. The control participants ranged in age from 50 to 80. The researchers focused on the immune cells in the subjects blood samples. 

“The scientists then used an advanced method called single-cell transcriptomics to find out what each of the immune cells was doing — individually. This method measures the messenger RNA produced by the hundreds of thousands of genes within a cell. Messenger RNA is the go-between that translates the genetic instructions of DNA to the nucleus of the cell, which uses those instructions to build proteins. By essentially reading the messages of the messenger RNA, researchers can determine the activities of each cell, effectively identifying it and its function,” according to Live Science

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What they found through this process was quite astounding. Not only did the samples taken from the seven supercentenarians indicate that each subject had more than 40,000 immune cells present in their bloodstream, but compared to the control group, that’s around an average of 20,000 more cells than the younger subjects. The main piece of recorded data that surprised a lot of the researchers, however, was the presence of an immune cell group known as “CD4 CTL.” This grouping is basically a type of helper T cell (the cells in our immune system that attack viruses) that directly attacks and kills other cells almost immediately, according to the study

Why this finding is so surprising is because CD4 cells in general are quite rare, and when they are present in our immune systems they don’t really fight other cells, that’s typically just the T cell’s job. These cells normally act like “nerves” for our immune system and simply communicate with other cells when negative foreign bodies have entered the bloodstream, and then they let the T cells do their job and destroy them. However, it’s already been known that these cells have the ability to attack other cells, they just typically don’t. This abundance of immune cell soldiers could lead us to understanding how once an individual passes a certain point in aging that they lead healthy lives until they eventually pass from old age. 

Due to the small sample size of recorded data, the researchers can’t make a concrete connection between these cells and the longevity of life in the subjects, however, it’s a great start. These cells in the past have been proven to kill tumor cells in mice subjects, so it’s a great indication at the possibility of how supercentenarians are even a real thing. For now, the group will continue their research in hopes to unlock more answers about our bodies complex immune systems.


Workaholics at Risk From Being ‘Overstressed’

Stress can have significant effects on your body, both physical and psychological. With more and more people leading stressful lives, the occurrence of long term stress has increased dramatically with one third of people reported to be suffering from stress at least one day per week. Identifying the signs that you’re overstressed can be difficult, especially when you’re constantly busy with work and the demands of everyday life. If you can identify the early signs and symptoms it can make combating the problem much easier, allowing you to get back to being yourself.

You always seem to be ill

Being ill regularly can indicate problems with stress. Although most people associate being ill with the weather, the sickness bug going around at work or perhaps an inherently weak immune system, illness can in fact have much more complicated causes. Stress can trigger illness as your body’s capability to develop white blood cells decreases, therefore making you ill more often as you are less able to fight off infections. 

How is it possible to link stress with regular illnesses? Take the time to remember when you were last ill. Where there any stressful situations going on in your life simultaneously such as a work deadline or an upcoming exam? Connecting the dots can help you tackle stress and reduce the impact it has on your body. Seeking professional advice can also help you deal with the problem as they can give you the best advice and treatment. Furthermore, it is essential that you are maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle, ensuring that your immune system is well equipped to deal with any bouts of illness that do occur.

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Everything irritates you

Another sign stress may be taking over is when you start to feel irritated by everything around you. A colleague may ask you to help with a certain task and you find yourself sighing and getting annoyed at them. It feels like everything around you is constantly going wrong and the world never seems to be on your side. 

A lot of people have no idea that they are being rude to the people around them, often causing irritation and rifts in their relationships. Being stressed and overwhelmed can mean we don’t have the capacity to consider the feelings of others around us, leaving them hurt and confused. Seeking professional advice in this situation can be extremely effective so you can go back to being yourself and prevent stress from affecting your quality of life.

You’re constantly thinking about work

A major sign that work is stressing you out is when you cannot stop thinking about it! Even though you leave the office at 5, your mind is constantly occupied with work related worries and tasks you need to complete before a certain date. Work is on your mind during dinner, when you’re trying to relax and fall asleep, and even when you’re talking to other people. Taking a step back and leaving work at the door is extremely hard for many people, causing intense stress.

Keeping yourself healthy by staying hydrated, following a nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy sleeping and exercise pattern will help you tackle stress head-on when it does hit.

You can’t focus on anything

Whilst many people cannot focus on anything but work, many find it extremely difficult to focus on anything at all when they’re stressed. Failing to make progress or even get started on that task or deadline you’ve been putting off is a sign that you may be overwhelmed. Instead of being able to focus and complete a task, you fret too much about all the other things you have to do and worry about not being able to complete those tasks to a good enough standard. You become trapped in a vicious cycle as tasks pile up around you.

Those who suffer from anxiety are all too familiar with this cycle, however beginning to refocus your concentration on what you need to accomplish is never impossible. There is lots of advice available both online and from professionals that can help you to get you life back on track.

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You’ve got eczema or inflamed skin 

Stress can also trigger problematic skin conditions such as eczema or inflammation. This is a result of your body being put through stressful events especially if you already suffer from chronic dry skin or eczema. Anxiety can also trigger flare ups and may lead to more stress, intensifying the issue. 

Seeking advice and treatments from doctors is a good place to start when tackling this issue whilst following a healthy diet and moisturizing your skin regularly can also help the situation. Removing products from your regime that you think might be causing the problem to worsen can also help lessen the symptoms. Many people also find that certain foods such as dairy and wheat can intensify breakouts, keeping your skin clear and further stress at bay. 

Everyone combats stress in different ways. Keeping an open mind to other people’s symptoms and struggles that may differ from yours is a major step towards acceptance. Keeping yourself healthy by staying hydrated, following a nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy sleeping and exercise pattern will help you tackle stress head-on when it does hit. Listen to your body, take care of it and address issues when they arise. Beating stress is never impossible and doing so will lead to a happier life.