Study shows that rheumatoid arthritis is associated with a 23% increased risk of developing diabetes

A new study presented at this year’s annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), held online this year, shows that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with a 23% increased risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D), and may indicate that both diseases are linked to the body’s inflammatory response. The research was conducted by Zixing Tian and Dr. Adrian Heald, University of Manchester, UK, and colleagues.

Inflammation has emerged as a key factor in the onset and progression of T2D, and RA is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease. The team suggest that the systemic inflammation associated with RA might therefore contribute to the risk of an individual developing diabetes in the future.

The team conducted a comprehensive search of a range of medical and scientific databases up to 10 March 2020, for cohort studies comparing the incidence of T2D among people with RA to the diabetes risk within the general population. Statistical analyses were performed to calculate the relative risks, as well as to test for possible publication bias (in which the outcome of research influences the decision whether to publish it or not). The eligible studies identified comprised a total of 1,629,854 participants. Most of the studies were population-based and one was hospital-based, while no evidence was found for publication bias in any of them.

The authors found that having RA was associated with a 23% higher chance of developing T2D, compared to the diabetes risk within the general population. They conclude that: “This finding supports the notion that inflammatory pathways are involved in the pathogenesis of diabetes.”

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Researchers succeed with a more inclusive approach to heart transplants

Doctors at Yale New Haven Hospital used a more aggressive selection process to more than quadruple the number of heart transplants performed there while maintaining positive patient outcomes, according to a new study.

The findings suggest that a more inclusive approach to selecting donor hearts and transplant recipients can enable hospitals to successfully treat more patients in need of transplants. The study appears online Sept. 18 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

The study looked at short-term patient outcomes for two groups: 49 patients who received heart transplants from 2014 to 2018, and 58 patients who had their heart transplants in the year after the hospital adopted a more aggressive selection process for donor recipients (2018-2019).

The more aggressive selection process significantly shortened the waiting period for heart patients, from 242 days to 41 days, the researchers said. Importantly, patients’ survival rate at 180 days after the transplant remained nearly unchanged.

The expansion of heart transplant procedures at the hospital, in September 2018, coincided with the implementation of the new United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) donor heart allocation system in the United States.

“I think this is the takeaway for other centers—that such a change in the approach could create opportunities for patients in need while maintaining outcomes in the short term,” said Makoto Mori, M.D., a surgical resident at Yale and first author of the study.

The senior author of the study was Harlan Krumholz, M.D., the Harold H. Hines Jr. Professor of Medicine (cardiology) and director of Yale’s Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation.

In practical terms, the expansion of heart transplant procedures at Yale New Haven Hospital meant accepting hearts from older donors with additional medical conditions, as well as accepting transplant recipients with more severe illnesses.

Yale New Haven Hospital also changed the surgical leadership of its advanced heart failure program, hired a dedicated procurement surgeon and an additional transplant coordinator, and increased the involvement of surgical attending physicians.

The researchers noted that Yale’s increase in heart transplant cases was significantly larger than the volume change seen at other heart transplant centers in the same region during the same period, including Hartford Hospital, Tufts Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

“We used a multidisciplinary approach and made strategic changes in donor and recipient selection, which allowed us to increase the number of heart transplants performed and therefore help more patients with advanced heart failure in a safe and an effective manner,” said co-author Arnar Geirsson, M.D., chief of cardiac surgery at Yale New Haven Hospital.

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Interim data from early US COVID-19 hotspot show mortality of disease were not associated with race/ethnicity

A study of interim data from two hospitals in an early US COVID-19 hotspot, to be presented at the ESCMID Conference on Coronavirus Disease (ECCVID, held online 23-25 September), shows that race and ethnicity were not significantly associated with higher in-hospital COVID-19 mortality, and that rates of moderate, severe, and critical forms of COVID-19 were similar between racial and ethnic groups.

The study, by Dr. Daniel Chastain (University Of Georgia College Of Pharmacy, Albany, GA, U.S.) and colleagues included data from adult patients hospitalised between March 10 and and May 22 with COVID-19, defined by laboratory-detected severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, in Southwest Georgia.

The authors compared severity of illness categories on presentation to the hospital between patients from different racial and ethnic groups based on criteria from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) COVID-19 treatment guidelines. They also studied outcomes including comorbidities, laboratory values, vital signs, and in-hospital mortality.

A total of 164 randomly selected non-consecutive patients were included with a median age of 61.5 years. These consisted of 119 African American patients, 36 Caucasian patients, and 9 Latinx patients. Thus the majority were African American (73%) and 51% were female. Rates of moderate, severe, and critical COVID-19 did not significantly differ between African American (9%, 56%, and 35%), Caucasian (0%, 69%, and 31%), and Latinx patients (0%, 56%, and 44%). In-hospital mortality was not statistically significantly different between groups but was highest among Caucasians (31%) followed by Latinx (22%) and African Americans (16%).

Caucasian patients had significantly higher Charlson comorbidity index scores (meaning more underlying conditions) (4.5) compared to African American (4) and Latinx (2) patients, while median BMI was significantly higher in African Americans (33.7 kg/m2) than in Caucasians (26.9) or Latinx patients (25.9).

Duration of time from symptom onset to admission was similar between groups, whereas median temperature on admission was significantly higher in African Americans (38.3C) than in Caucasians (37.9) or Latinx patients (37.8)

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Smartphones can predict brain function associated with anxiety and depression

Information on social activity, screen time and location from smartphones can predict connectivity between regions of the brain that are responsible for emotion, according to a study from Dartmouth College.

In the research, data from phone usage was analyzed alongside results from fMRI scans to confirm that passively collected information can mirror activity in the brain linked to traits such as anxiety. Predictions based solely on the phone data matched the brain scans with 80 percent accuracy.

The study, presented at ACM UbiComp, an annual conference on pervasive and ubiquitous computing, represents the first time researchers have been able to predict connectivity between specific brain regions solely based on passive data from smartphones.

“Simple information about how someone is using their smartphone can provide a peek into the complex functioning of the human brain,” said Mikio Obuchi, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science at Dartmouth and lead author of the study. “Although this research is just beginning, combining data from smartphones—rather than fMRI alone—will hopefully accelerate research to understand better how the human brain works.”

According to the research, how often and how long an individual uses their phone provides information about the functioning between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the amygdala—two key centers of the brain related to emotional state.

The ventromedial prefrontal cortex is responsible for self-control, decision making, and risk evaluation. The amygdala triggers the fight or flight response and helps individuals determine the emotions of others.

In addition to data on social activity, screen time and location, information on exercise and sleep patterns was also collected for the study.

The research found that more screen time, regular exercise, earlier bedtimes, higher social interaction and certain location patterns passively inferred from phone data matched a state of higher functional connectivity between the brain regions. This increased activity indicates a more positive emotional state.

“We are not suggesting that phones should replace technology like fMRI, but they can help individuals and health providers learn more about behavior patterns from everyday observations,” said Jeremy Huckins, a lecturer on psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth and a co-author of the study.

The research result aligns with clinical evidence showing that stronger connectivity between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the amygdala to be associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression. Weaker functional connectivity, on the other hand, represents a more negative emotional state.

Anonymous fMRI data from volunteer participants were placed into two categories divided by low and high brain connectivity levels. By matching phone data against the fMRI results the researchers were able to predict which research subjects had higher or lower connectivity between brain regions with 80 percent accuracy.

According to the research team, the use of passive information from a smartphone can help eliminate the subjectivity that often complicates other information-gathering techniques on emotional well-being such as personal interviews and self-reporting on questionnaires.

The phone information allowed researchers to predict the emotional state of individuals at any given time without intrusive data collection. The data also support predictions of the long-term emotional traits in individuals.

“Hopefully, this study shows how mobile sensing can provide deep longitudinal human behavioral data to complement brain scans,” said Andrew Campbell, the Albert Bradley 1915 Third Century Professor of computer science at Dartmouth and the senior researcher on the study. “This could offer new insights into the emotional well-being of subjects that would just not be possible without continuous sensing.”

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Major trial uses blood test to match women with breast cancer to precision treatments

A blood test that can identify a variety of mutations in advanced breast cancer can reliably match women to effective targeted treatments, early results of a major clinical trial reveal.

The plasmaMATCH trial provides the strongest evidence yet that simple blood tests known as ‘liquid biopsies’ can benefit women with breast cancer by tracking their disease as it evolves and directing them to the most effective treatments.

Researchers showed that the blood test is now reliable enough to be offered to patients on the NHS once it has passed approval, raising the prospect of a major reshaping of care that could speed up access to the best available drugs.

A team at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, analysed blood samples from more than 1,000 women with breast cancer that had recurred after treatment or spread to another part of the body. The aim was to see whether the blood test could help improve treatment for the significant proportion of women whose breast cancer is caused by one of a variety of rarer mutations—as opposed to better-known defects like BRCA mutations.

The plasmaMATCH trial was largely funded by Stand Up To Cancer, a joint fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4, with additional support from AstraZeneca, Breast Cancer Now and Puma Biotechnology, and the new findings are published in The Lancet Oncology today (Thursday).

Researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and The Royal Marsden were able to reliably detect mutations found in tumour DNA that had been shed into the bloodstream of women with advanced breast cancer. They then went on to match patients to targeted treatments according to the specific mutations in the tumour DNA.

The researchers looked at three targetable defects in genes called HER2, AKT1 and ESR1, which are known to drive breast cancer. A total of 142 women with these detectable mutations were then given experimental drugs targeted against the specific characteristics of their cancer.

Women with ESR1 mutations were treated with fulvestrant, while women with HER2 mutations received neratinib on its own or with fulvestrant. Women with AKT1 mutations were split into two groups, according to whether their cancer was oestrogen receptor positive or not, and were treated with capivasertib plus fulvestrant, or with capivasertib on its own.

Researchers found that some women with HER2 and AKT1 mutations responded to the treatments assigned to them—suggesting that liquid biopsies can successfully match patients with certain rare forms of advanced breast cancer to more effective treatments.

Five out of 20 women with rare HER2 mutations who were matched to neratinib saw a beneficial response—meaning cancer growth was slowed or stopped, or tumours were shrunk.

Meanwhile, four out of 18 patients with AKT1 mutations responded to capivasertib. However, the treatment targeting the ESR1 mutation was not found to be effective.

Researchers also validated the findings by checking tissue samples from the patients to confirm that the liquid biopsies had correctly identified the presence or absence of the mutations in over 93% of cases—sufficiently accurate to implement in routine care.

The team believes that findings from the plasmaMATCH trial will help make a strong case for the adoption of liquid biopsies into clinical practice for patients with advanced cancer—a case strengthened by the fact that liquid biopsies are easier to take, faster to analyse and less painful for patients than standard tissue biopsies.

Liquid biopsies also offer a more dynamic alternative that could keep track of cancers as they evolve over time and their range of mutations changes.

For the targeted drugs that have shown initial promise in this study, the next step is to carry out larger clinical trials to assess whether they are better than existing treatments. The hope is that larger trials will lead to more targeted treatments being approved, providing new treatment options for patients with rare subtypes of breast cancer.

Study leader Professor Nick Turner, Professor of Molecular Oncology at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and Head of the Ralph Lauren Centre for Breast Cancer Research at The Royal Marsden, said:

“Our findings show that simple blood tests can quickly and accurately tell us the genetic changes present in a patient’s cancer, and use that information to select the most suitable available treatment.

“Using a liquid biopsy could be particularly important for patients with advanced breast cancer, to help select the most appropriate treatment.

“Tests that detect tumour DNA in the blood have huge potential and could transform how doctors select targeted therapies for patients with advanced cancer. Our study shows that these liquid biopsies can pick up the mutations that drive a patient’s breast cancer, and can successfully match patients with the best available precision medicine for their cancer.”

Study co-leader Professor Judith Bliss, Professor of Clinical Trials at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and Director of its Cancer Research UK-funded Clinical Trials and Statistics Unit, said:

“The plasmaMATCH trial platform has allowed us to look at the activity of various different treatments at the same time. This efficient trial set-up has been a success and it is already starting to bring patients closer to new targeted treatments.”

Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said:

“It’s exciting to see the first results emerging from the pioneering plasmaMATCH trial. The findings demonstrate the powerful potential of liquid biopsies to pick up mutations that although individually rare can collectively play an important role in causing many breast cancers. Crucially, the study shows that matching women to the best available precision medicine for their tumour, using a blood test rather than an invasive tissue biopsy, can have real clinical benefits.

“These findings should lay the foundation for liquid biopsies to become a standard part of patient care for patients with breast cancer, and help accelerate women’s access to the best available precision medicines.”

Michelle Mitchell, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, said:

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90 Day Fiance's Paul Claims Estranged Wife Karine Is Pregnant With 2nd Son

A bittersweet announcement. Paul Staehle claims his estranged wife, Karine Martins is pregnant with another baby boy, but he may “never” see the little one.

90 Day Fiance’s Paul and Karine’s Ups and Downs Through the Years

“For everyone thinking I am chasing Karine in Brazil, Karine is in Indiana USA,” the 90 Day Fiancé alum, 37, wrote on his Monday, August 31, Instagram Story after sharing footage from Brazil. “Karine is not in Brazil. I knew that when I traveled here.”

The Kentucky native explained, “I came here alone to clean and organize our Brazil home. It needs to be sanitary and baby safe. I have been keeping busy since she left. I finished cleaning and organizing [our] USA house, so now I am doing the same thing in Brazil. All my work is on the Internet, so as long as I have Internet I can be anywhere. Even court is on the Internet these days.”

Adorable! ’90 Day Fiance’ Babies: Pics

Staehle was hit with a restraining order last month after an altercation at the couple’s home that saw Martins flee with their 17-month-old child, Pierre. “I have not seen my son since July. Next court date is now in December,” Staehle wrote.

The TLC personality then revealed the sex of their baby-to-be, writing, “I will not see my sons for a very long time. I have to cope the fact I probably will never see my wife and son again. Or see the birth or ever see my unborn child. … I have lost my sons. That being said, I think I am mentally doing what is best staying constructive and busy.”

He and Martins tied the knot in November 2017 and welcomed Pierre two years later. In July, Staehle alleged via Instagram that the pregnant star was missing with their son after filing “a full restraining order” against him.

Martins subsequently released a statement saying she wasn’t missing and wrote, “Relationships are hard and sometimes it just can’t be fixed anymore. I need this time to organize my thoughts, work on myself and care for my son after everything we have been through in the last year and a half.”

Laguna Beach’s Talan Torriero, More Celeb Parents’ Cutest Gender Reveals

In August, a judge ordered Martins to not communicate or come within 500 feet of Staehle after he claimed that she “assaulted” him and endangered their toddler.

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Mum's pain as son diagnosed with cancer weeks after twin died from brain tumour

When Jack Parton started experiencing back pain and tiredness, doctors initially thought it was due to grief.

The 12-year-old lost his twin brother Ben to a brain tumour just a few weeks before.

But just a fortnight after Ben’s funeral in December last year, the family were given the heartbreaking news that Jack had leukaemia – a type of blood cancer.

The boys’ mum, Julie, 51, from Cannock, Staffordshire, said: It’s almost impossible to put into words how horrendous this has been.

‘Having gone through everything with Ben and, just as we were grieving his loss, it was a hammer blow to find out only two weeks after his funeral that Jack was also fighting cancer.’

The boys were revising for their SATs in March last year when Ben started to complain about headaches.

Soon he was also vomiting but his mum thought he’d caught the sickness bug going around school. When it didn’t get better, she took him to hospital.’

She explained: ‘We were waiting for an appointment at the opticians but I took him to the urgent care clinic at Walsall Manor Hospital where he was checked over and we were reassured to be told he had gastroenteritis.

‘The sickness would stop and start again a couple of days later and by mid-April Ben had lost quite a bit of weight and was struggling to move his right arm so it was back to urgent care where I was told, once again, it was a stomach bug. We were given antacid medication and told to seek a paediatric referral through our GP.

‘I felt everyone was dragging their feet and, with Ben still poorly, I took him to A&E once again where we were told his blood results were fine and we were sent on our way.’

Just four days later, Ben collapsed and the family had to call an ambulance. He was given a CT scan, which showed he had a brain tumour.

24 hours later, he had surgery to remove the tumour and a biopsy revealed he had a grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Sadly, his family where told just 20% of patients live beyond five years of their diagnosis.

He was scheduled to have radiotherapy four weeks later but a scan before showed the tumour had already grown back, which meant more surgery.

Ben started 30 sessions of radiotherapy on 3 July followed by four cycles of chemotherapy in September, but by the second round, it was clear the treatment wasn’t working.

Sadly, the cancer spread and Ben passed away eight months after his diagnosis in December 2019.

The heartbroken family prepared to lay Ben to rest but at the same time, Jack started to feel very tired.

Doctors thought it might be the post traumatic stress of losing his twin but genetic testing raised the alarm.

Julie explained: ‘During Ben’s many tests it had been discovered that he had a genetic disorder which meant his TP53 gene, a tumour suppressor, was faulty.

‘And it was during screening to see if Jack was similarly affected that the alarm bells started to ring. We were told that his symptoms were not neurological so, mercifully, he didn’t have a brain tumour.

‘However, when we were immediately recalled to the hospital and told to bring an overnight bag, I was so scared.’

Jack had to have treatment at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where his brother had gone just the year before.

Amazingly, Jack is now cancer-free but will have to stay on chemotherapy tablets for two-and-a-half years to stop it coming back.

Julie said: All things considered, Jack is doing well although some days are incredibly tough. He misses Ben so much and would give anything for them to be on PlayStation together.’

She is campaigning with the charity Brain Tumour Research and is urging people to make a difference by signing a petition to increase the national investment into brain tumour research to £35 million a year which would bring parity of funding with other cancers such as leukaemia, breast and prostate.

‘Thanks to the investment in research, Jack and other leukaemia patients now have hope of a cure. Ben was not so lucky, he never really stood a chance,’ Julie said.

‘Historically, just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to brain tumours and treatment options remain very limited and survival rates very poor.’

According to Brain Tumour Research, more children and adults under the age of 40 die of a brain tumour than any other cancer

Since national cancer spend records began in 2002, £680 million has been invested in breast cancer, yet only £96 million in brain tumours – a difference of £35 million a year over 17 years.

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours.

The charity is calling for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia.

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People with intellectual and developmental disabilities disproportionately affected by COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a disproportionate toll on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs), write the directors of the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers (IDDRC) Network, a nationwide group funded by NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The article was written by John Constantino, M.D., director of the IDDRC at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, along with fellow IDDRC directors and leaders of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities. It appears in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

A large number of people with IDD who require in-person care have lost the support of trained caregivers and community service providers due to the pandemic. The authors note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others have issued guidelines for group homes, schools, and others entrusted with the care of people with IDD. It is vital to ensure that when they return to work, care staff exercise techniques and procedures to protect their clients from infection, the authors write. Moreover, people with IDD depend on caregivers and loved ones to help them bridge gaps in intellectual and communication abilities. In the absence of this human contact, the authors call for virtual care and support, where viable. Those who cannot benefit from screen-based supports should be prioritized to receive in-person services.

Suspension of classroom time also disproportionately affects children with IDD, who often require special educational services, increased teacher-student ratios, and specialized interventions, many of which need to be administered in person, the authors note. It is difficult for families to take on these tasks, and qualified in-home surrogates should be mobilized whenever possible to meet this need and to support parents’ efforts.

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The ethical case for allowing medical trials that deliberately infect humans with COVID-19

Despite the urgent need to beat COVID-19, health officials may be delaying the development of an effective vaccine.

Authorities in the U.S. and elsewhere are yet to authorize an ethically charged research procedure called “human challenge trials.” Challenge trials entail deliberately infecting volunteers with the disease—which explains the official reticence—but they could substantially expedite the development of a vaccine.

The debate over human challenge trials has been raging for months among health professionals and academics. But only now—some eight months into the pandemic—are authorities in the U.S. beginning to consider them in a bid to speed up the vaccine-development process.

Sitting and waiting

A vaccine has to go through multiple stages before it can be rolled out. After establishing its ability to trigger an immune response and its safety, developers must test it for efficacy. Inefficient vaccines may not justify the tiny risk inherent even in safe vaccines, may be enormously wasteful, may divert resources from better alternatives and may harm immunization rates.

There are two principal ways with which to measure efficacy. Under the conventional method, researchers vaccinate tens of thousands of volunteers and then passively wait for some of them to get infected. The frequency of infection is then compared to a non-vaccinated control group.

In the second method, human challenge trials, a much smaller group of volunteers is intentionally infected after receiving the experimental vaccine or a placebo. This allows for a much faster and efficient determination of vaccine efficacy.

To date, more than 33,000 people from 151 countries have volunteered to be part of such a procedure. But there is no official authorization for human challenge trials for COVID-19 in the U.S. or other Western countries. This means that vaccine developers are forced to vaccinate many more volunteers – typically about 30,000 are involved for each candidate vaccine—and then release them into the general population, with the hope that enough data would soon accumulate.

This is where we presently are in the U.S.: waiting for enough participating volunteers to catch the virus by happenstance.

Paradoxically, these giant and expensive studies—American taxpayers have already spent billions of dollars on vaccine development – are slowed down by government efforts to minimize infection rates through quarantines, closures, masks usage or social distancing. Back in May, leading developers of potential COVID-19 vaccines, including the biotechnology company Moderna and Oxford University, issued a warning that low-level infections among their volunteers may delay the development of their vaccines.

It is possible, of course, that the conventional studies will yield the required data. But there is a distinct possibility that challenge trials could speed up things.

Medical ethics

Opposition to human challenge studies for COVID-19 is based, first and foremost, on ethical considerations. Since at present there is no cure for COVID-19, intentional infection can result in death or serious impairments. It is therefore argued by people like Michael Rosenblatt, a former dean of Tufts University School of Medicine and a present adviser to Moderna, that the risks are too high, and that volunteers cannot give a valid “informed consent” for intentional infection.

The argument that willing adults cannot consent to risking their health for the greater good is, we believe, inconsistent with how society views other acts of volunteerism. Volunteer firefighters, for example, also face unknown dangers. Moreover, few countries refrain from risking the health and lives of their young citizens on the world’s battlefields, if they deem that the common good requires such sacrifice. And while COVID-19 human challenge trials would include only volunteers, most battlefields also include people who are forced into service.

Delaying a vaccine may also endanger volunteering health care workers. Current estimates put the number of U.S. health care workers’ deaths from COVID-19 at around 1,000. Health care volunteers continue risking their lives as long as vaccine development is delayed.

The opposition to human challenge trials derives from justified sensitivity to medical experiments on humans, and the horrific history of such experiments—which often ignored the interests and rights of their subjects. These included the experiments performed by the Nazis on prisoners or the notorious Tuskegee Study of untreated syphilis, which was conducted on unsuspecting African Americans. And of course, even medical experiments that subjects consent to can go terribly wrong.

Lives at stake

But rapid development of an effective vaccine could save hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide. At present, more than 5,000 people die of COVID-19 each day. At that rate, every month of delay in vaccine availability costs 150,000 lives.

The indirect costs are tremendous as well. For example, the United Nations recently announced that pandemic-linked hunger is tied to 10,000 child deaths each month. From these perspectives, the arguments against human challenge trials appear far less convincing.

We believe that the decision to allow human challenge trials for COVID-19 should not be examined solely through the narrow lens of medical ethics—with its cardinal principal of doing no harm to the individual patient or the volunteer. The COVID-19 epidemic is a global disaster, and decisions concerning it should be made with the wider perspectives of public health and general morality. In other words, the decision may be more suitable for high level policymakers than for medical ethics committees.

In April, some American lawmakers did weigh in: 35 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to the heads of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services, voicing support for human challenge trials. So far, however, this effort has had no effect.

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New study reveals older adults coped with pandemic best

Adults aged 60 and up have fared better emotionally compared to younger adults (18-39) and middle-aged adults (40-59) amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new UBC research published recently in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences.

Based on daily diary data collected between mid-March and mid-April of this year, the researchers found that older adults experienced greater emotional well-being and felt less stressed and threatened by the pandemic.

“Our findings provide new evidence that older adults are emotionally resilient despite public discourse often portraying their vulnerability. We also found that younger adults are at greater risk for loneliness and psychological distress during the pandemic,” says Patrick Klaiber, the study’s lead author and a graduate student in the UBC department of psychology.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from 776 participants aged 18-91, who lived in Canada and the U.S. and completed daily surveys for one week about their stressors, positive events and their emotional well-being during the first several weeks of the pandemic. The time period was selected as it was likely to be the period of greatest disruption and uncertainty as local, provincial and state governments began issuing stay-at-home orders.

Klaiber says the difference in reported stress levels may be a result of age-related stressors and how well the different age groups respond to stress.

“Younger and middle-aged adults are faced with family- and work-related challenges, such as working from home, homeschooling children and unemployment,” says Klaiber. “They are also more likely to experience different types of ongoing non-pandemic stressors than older adults, such as interpersonal conflicts.”

Klaiber adds, “While older adults are faced with stressors such as higher rates of disease contraction, severe complications and mortality from COVID-19, they also possess more coping skills to deal with stress as they are older and wiser.”

The study also reveals older and middle-aged adults experienced more daily positive events—such as remote positive social interactions—in 75 per cent of their daily surveys, which helped increase positive emotions compared to younger adults.

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