Genetic variation in immune system may impact the severity of COVID-19

Genetic variation in immune system may impact the severity of COVID-19

Can your genes be the reason for increased susceptibility to COVID-19 infection? For years, scientists know that genes play a very important role in underlying biological mechanisms. And therefore, over these years many pieces of research have been carried to understand the link between genetic variability and diseases.  Recently, new research published in the Journal of Virology (Well-known publication of American Society for Microbiology) highlights that variation in the genes involved in the human immune system can impact the susceptibility and severity of COVID-19 infection.

Human Leukocytes Antigen Genes

You must have seen people of a certain group be more susceptible to disease than others, why? Well, the answer to this lies in your genes. Individual gene variation is known to be one of the major reasons behind the differences in the immune responses. Our immune system works with the help of multiple biomolecules. One such important component of the immune system that plays a very crucial role in determining the strength of the response is the human leukocyte antigen. The genes coding for this antigen is involved in detecting the pathogen upon invasion. The gene variation among different individuals can influence how well the immune system detects the pathogen in an individual. If a person has a weak response than a pathogen such as the Sar-CoV2 virus could easily invade making a person vulnerable to the infection.

Understanding the variation

As we all know that the number of COVID-19 cases is rising across the globe, researchers and scientist are working towards finding better solutions to curb the menace. In the present study, the author of the paper indicated the importance of understanding the variation of human leukocytes antigen (HLA), which forms a very important component of the immune system. Knowing the gene variants of HLA and their respective responses towards the condition can help identify people posing a higher risk towards the COVID-19 infection.

Antigen-Antibody complex

The researchers showed that the HLA, haplotype, and also the full genotype variation may impact the ability of an individual’s immune system to respond against Sars-CoV infection. Moreover, certain alleles can be responsible for more severe infections than others.

“This is the first study to report global distributions of HLA types and haplotypes with potential epidemiological ramifications in the setting of the current pandemic,” write the authors, from Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, and the Portland VA Research Foundation.

One of the important benefits of HLA based study is that HLA typing is quite fast and less expensive. If there is a pairing of HLA typing with that of COVID-19 tests than there can be a significant improvement in the identification of high-risk individuals. Moreover, once the vaccine against COVID-19 is available, high-risk HLA type individuals can be prioritized for the vaccination. This will help in creating herd immunity and help prevent the future spread of the disease.

FDA approves the first saliva test for COVID-19 testing

FDA approves the first saliva test for COVID-19 testing

With a rising death toll across the globe, researchers are looking for ways to develop highly effective detection tests for early diagnosis of COVID-19. Though there are tests based on the nasal swabs, other alternative methods like saliva-based tests can prove to be highly robust. In light of this, scientists have created an easy test that uses saliva instead of the nasal swabs as a sample.

The US Food and Drug Administration approved the first saliva test for COVID-19 testing for emergency early this month, which can be used as an alternative to existing tests.

“Considering the high transmission rates of coronavirus and rising cases, it is very crucial to have all types of testing options to carry out as much testing as possible in any form. The only way one can prevent the spread of coronavirus virus is by mass testing and self- isolation”, said by one of the researchers working on infectious disease and pandemic preparedness at the Johns Hopkins University.

Why lookout for alternatives?

Presently, COVID-19 testing involves the use of nasal swabs based tests where health professionals need to insert a swab into each nostril, reaching out at the back of the nasal cavity where the nasopharynx is located. The swab is gently scraped over the tissues to collect the sample and later sent for the analysis. Though the present method is robust, it proved to be very cumbersome to an extent. The nasal swab based testing requires highly professional health practitioners to perform the sample collection. In the present time where we are facing the shortage of healthcare professionals, the nasal swabs based tests increase the burden further. Moreover, extra precautions are needed to carry out this test, which includes wearing fresh gloves, personal protective equipment, and face shield that are in short supply.

On the other side, the collection of saliva samples is quite easy and can be performed by any individual without the requirement of expertise.  Saliva tests have been used in the market for the various genetic tests and are quite common to people. The process involves thoroughly cleaning the hands and spitting the saliva sample into the collection tube up to the mark indicated. The entire process is very easy and doesn’t require a large number of safety requirements such as PPE. However, as per the recent guidelines shared by Food and Drug Administration (FDA), saliva-based testing will still be carried out in the healthcare setting under the guidance and supervision of expert & qualified healthcare professionals.

Saliva testing – a robust alternative

“Saliva testing will help with the global shortage of swabs for sampling and increase testing of patients, and it will not require health care professionals to be put at risk to collect samples,” Andrew Brooks, the chief operating officer of RUCDR Infinite Biologics, a biorepository backed by Rutgers University that developed the spit test, explains in a statement.

The saliva-based testing uses TaqPath Sars-CoV2 Assay which is used in existing coronavirus tests for identifying the viral RNA. Scientists shared that apart from identifying the potential carriers of the COVID-19 virus, the present saliva-based testing can help in re-testing the people who have shown recovery to help them end the self-isolation.

Way ahead

To assess the robustness of the saliva-based test for COVID-19 detection, researchers collected 60 samples from COVID-29 patients using the saliva swab tests. The results for Sars-CoV2 RNA in these saliva samples showed the same results as conventional nasal swab based tests taken from the same infected patients. This highlights the robustness and effectiveness of saliva as high as a nasal based test without any false-negative results.

Making a Career in Scientific Writing

Making a Career in Scientific Writing

Scientific writing nowadays a very lucrative career for many people across the wide variety of niches. This may include writing for newspapers, magazines, publications, press releases, broadcast media, blogs, newsletters, and the list goes on. It doesn’t matter which area you would like to explore to showcase your writing skill, the most important thing is to choose as per your strength. Most of the writers end up working in the above-listed venues, which often offer them a great path to learn new things about writing and exploring skills beyond the limit. One of the best ways to learn about scientific writing is to hear out the people in the field. Whether it is writers, editors or those who hire, knowing their experience can fuel yours.

To understand deeply what key steps can help the budding science writers, we queried many existing writers and editors in our team as well as in our connection. The major aim was to understand the basic challenges every writer faces at the initial stage when they are getting started. Moreover, other key considerations such as what kind of training is important, how much time a writer should spend learning, how to fetch the first assignments, and dealing with other stuff like accounting, taxes, etc., were discussed to gain better insights. In this article, we will try to highlight and share their vision and thoughts on some of these issues to help budding writers know how to go ahead.

To start off let’s understand how someone thinking of making a career in scientific writing should take a step ahead. For people with serious intention in becoming a writer, their efforts, talent and focus during the transition can be of great benefit. However, this is not the limit. The foremost important consideration when trying to be a writer is to showcase your skills to others. This will help you gain quality projects over a period. But is it so easy to gain projects just by showcasing the talent? Well, no. You need to work on other management skills such as networking. More the network better will be the exposure.

Many budding writers often ask if advanced scientific training will be boon or bane for them. The answer to this is both yes and no. The training may work if you are writing for a publishing house focused on too many technical details. However, it may be of no use if you are writing for a normal audience. Use of jargon and difficult to understand technical terms for common people may not be the right choice. So you need to decide upon the audience you will be majorly focused on. If you are considering making the transition as a freelance writer initially then you must learn some hacks. This often includes making an effective business contract with your client. This assures you receive the stipulated amount of work and payment on time.

Making a career in scientific writing is a very lucrative field but it doesn’t mean you can excel in it without any talent. Constant learning and acquiring new forms of writing are very important to meet the needs of the changing market. It helps you thrive better and fuel your career positively. At Sciwrite Global, we do hire talented scientific writers. If you have a knack to perform the best and bring value to the organization then feel free to connect.

COVID-19: What you need to be careful of?

COVID-19: What you need to be careful of?

More than 780000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported across the globe. The new coronavirus outbreak has the attention of the entire world as there are no effective medicines or vaccines yet. The virus originated in the Wuhan city of China and spread to numerous countries in almost no time. This does raise multiple questions like what exactly the virus is. Why its transmission rate is so high? And how an individual can avoid catching it? Well, amid this outbreak we will help you know about the virus in detail. Read ahead to gain a brief insight into the challenges the whole world is suffering from and how we all can overcome it.

Understanding the Coronavirus

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses whose exterior layers reflect a crown-like structure. Corona is a Latin word which means crown. There are various types of viruses in this group but most of them cause very slight illness and cold-like symptoms. The pathogenicity of novel Coronavirus has led researchers and scientists across the world to study more about it as there is very little information in the scientific community. Wuhan city of China is considered to be the epicenter of the disease initially from where it spread to numerous countries in no time. The origin of the virus is still not known but some studies suggest that it has been transmitted to humans from the animals.

Symptoms of COVID-19

The symptoms of the COVID-19 are often confusing as they are somewhat similar to the symptoms of common flu. However, the characteristics difference between them is the presence of high fever, sore throat, dry cough, difficulty in breathing and pneumonia in severe conditions. The incubation time for the development of symptoms is considered to be 14 days due to which people suspected of COVID-19 are suggested to quarantine themselves for this period.

Since very little information is available about the virus, researchers and doctors across the globe are contributing crucial information from the recent cases. It is observed that the virus mainly infects people with low immunity. This is the reason that countries with coronavirus outbreak have high infection and death rate among the elderly population. However, it doesn’t stipulate that young people and children are not prone to it. Having weak immunity irrespective of age can make you prone to infections. Therefore, doctors are prescribing for regular exercise and healthy food as a primary effort to protect yourself from the infection.

The major concern over here with the condition is that at the beginning people might not be able to assess the situation (as the grave) due to the mild symptoms associated. In some cases, people confuse the symptoms with that of normal flu and avoid going to the doctor until it becomes severe. During this period, the patient must have come in contact with say ‘n’ number of people which will further infect other ‘n+y’ number of people. This chain continues as the severe symptoms take 14 days to be physically visible. A point comes where there is a sudden outburst of diseases leading to chaos and panic which is often observed in present cases of countries like China, Italy, Iran, the USA, etc.

Precautions to avoid infections

The transmission of coronavirus from an infected person into the atmosphere takes place through the tiny droplets of a sneeze. These droplets though don’t stay suspended in the air for long, it descends and settles onto the surfaces. It is therefore very crucial for every individual to maintain at least 1m of distance from the infected person. Also, one must avoid touching such infected surfaces and later touching their eyes, nose or face. It is therefore very important to wash your hands thoroughly at regular intervals.
To prevent the transmission of the coronavirus, the doctors also suggest avoiding any kind of physical contact with other people such as avoiding handshakes. In case if you are infected with the disease or even with the normal flu, you must sneeze in your elbows rather than in your palms. You can also use handkerchief or tissue to cover your mouth during the sneeze as these practices reduce the chances of the spread of infectious droplets in the atmosphere.

Way ahead

COVID-19 is a disease that may look normal to you due to its mild symptoms at the initial stage. However, the experience in other countries shows that its completely the opposite and one must take effective care as soon as there are visible symptoms. One of the best ways to prevent the spread is to self isolate yourself and undertake prescribed medications. Researchers and scientists across the globe are working hard to come up with potential vaccines and medicine for the disease. But till then we need to consider the basic precautionary steps to avoid escalation of the situation. So, stay safe and spread awareness among your family to help the world fight this disease together. Let’s not forget we all are together in it and we will come out of it together.