Lifesaving Cancer Drug called Azacitidine for Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) Patients

For patients suffering from Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), the therapeutic treatments readily available only assist with improving the quality of life by subduing pain. It doesn’t increase the longevity of life.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia is a type of cancer affecting the bone marrow by making abnormal myeloblasts, red blood cells, or platelets. This form of cancer is more common in adults, median age roughly 70 years, and is also known by the names: myelogenous leukemia, acute myeloblastic leukemia, acute granulocytic leukemia, and acute nonlymphocytic leukemia.

In addition, this form of cancer causes the stem cells to become immature white blood cells which build up overtime. When this occurs, it makes it easier to suffer from infections, anemia and losing too much blood when a patient gets a cut. These effects can spread to other parts of the body and start affecting the central nervous system which is composed of the brain and spinal cord.

To diagnose AML, a patient may undergo a series of tests which may include but not limited to the following: Physical Exam & Medical History, Complete Blood Count, Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy, Immunophenotyping, Reverse-Transcription-Polymerase Chain Test (RT-PCR) and more, see below.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Diagnostic Blood Smear Sample Table [Source]

Fortunately, there has been some promising developments on drugs to treat AML, specifically a generic drug called Azacitidine. Over the last 7 years the studies on Azaciditine have shown promising results in an international phase 3 clinic trial conducted by Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian clinical trial sites. This drug is used to treat Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) in addition to AML. The generic name Azacitidine is comparable to the drugs Vidaza or Onureg and its classified as an antimetabolity/ demethylating agent. AML patients have gone into remission after taking Azacitidine (in oral pill form) and improved the overall survival rate for patients. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they gave approval during September 2020 for the oral application of Azacitidine as a chemotropic maintenance therapy for AML.

Cancer Patients Received Emotional Support and Guidance [Source]

Currently, the conventional regimen for AML is chemotherapy divided into two phases: Induction and Consolidation. This may involve targeted drug therapy followed by stem cell transplants. The current treatment regimen is ineffective and often accounts for 27.4% five-year overall-survival rate . However, one study reports the use of Azacitidine has one year survival rate of 46.5% versus 34.2% for the conventional regimen . Since the FDA approved the use of Azacitidine as AML treatment, this has given patients suffering from AML hope and positive outlooks for the future.

-By: Haley Matthews (Intern at Science WeeklyFix)

Climate Change 101

Have you ever wondered what “Climate Change” really means? According to NASA, Climate change means a long-term change in the patterns typical of weather on Earth that impact the climate on the planet.

Major impacts of climate change include, the melting of the polar ice caps, the increase in land being drowned by rising sea levels, decline in natural supplies, and most importantly, temperature changes.

For example, wildfires have been becoming more prominent as the years go on due to the impending climate crisis. This issue may seem like it is out of our hands due to its vast damage caused around the world, alas that is not the case.

There are many steps we can take each day to help combat the climate crisis, so long as each and every one of us begins taking action now. Here are a few examples of ways we can take action, both small and large, in order to make the world a better place.

-Reducing the amount of water waste each day from your place of residence by trying to turn the water off in between brushing your teeth, or to shorten shower lengths

-Begin using more renewable and sustainable energy in your home by installing solar panels on the roof instead or investing in wind energy, such as turbines.

-Instead of one-time use products, start purchasing or investing in more eco-friendly products, such as reusable water bottles, containers, and straws rather than continuous plastic, and use reusable totes or paper bags for groceries instead.

-Avoid purchasing food and produce that will expire easily, rather, buy produce you know you will eat before it expires, or limit meat and dairy products.

-Begin traveling more climate-friendly, for example walking or riding a bike to work rather than driving. Our cars and flights each day increase the amount of Carbon emissions in the air, whereas walking, riding a bike and taking public transport significantly help fight the climate crisis.

-If we all collectively choose to eat 40% less of cattle meat in our daily meals, the impact the meat industry would have on climate change would significantly decrease, creating healthier air in our ecosystems.

-Avoid fast fashion and shopping more sustainable brands or for that matter, even second-hand to save both money and avoid continued mass production of products that already plenty of enough exist for.

Finally, there is one main point about defeating climate change that we can choose that is both simple and exciting, which is using your own voice. It is up to all of us to push for large corporations that aid in fossil fuel emissions to become more eco-friendly in order to save the planet from harmful effects that will soon become irreversible.

Contacting your government, donating or joining campaigns and organizations that fight this issue is the greatest thing we can all do to fight climate change.

Although we are each one person, it is up to all of us to make personal choices that will leave a positive impact to our environment so that we may all have a brighter future.

By: Dominique Preate Intern at Science WeeklyFix

How the Trump’s Administration set to dismantle the CDC; and Biden’s Assembly of the Pandemic Taskforce

With the new UK COVID-19 variant making it’s way to the United States, the reports indicate this variant is more lethal due to its higher transmission rate. This means that the virus can spread faster and easier within a population, indirectly leading to an increased mortality rate.

To date, over 421,000 US citizens have died from COVID-19 . Unfortunately, this could have been prevented during the reign of the Trump’s Administration, if it wasn’t for the dismantling of the CDC.

Back in 2018, the top national security officials handling pandemics left abruptly due to the imposed funding cuts and they were not replaced by the Trump administration. As a result, by the time COVID-19 made its way to the United States, “both the structure and all the institutional memory [of the CDC] was gone

Former President Trump Resistance to National Shutdown [Source]

The American people suffered the most as their lives have drastically changed due to COVID-19. A pandemic response team could have saved the American people $900 Billion dollars in taxpayer money for the latest stimulus bill passed by the Trump Administration back in December of 2020 (Enter Source Hyperlink). And if that wasn’t enough, the Trump administration did a disservice to Americans by not shutting down the country which is counterproductive to providing stimulus aid and another $1.4 Billion dollar funding bill for the federal government .

After the 46th President of the United States of America, Joe Biden was sworn into the novel office on January 20th, 2021, he vowed to allocate funding accordingly and setup a proper task force to handle the pandemic.

Originally, this taskforce was created by President Biden, with consultation from his trusted advisors, back in November 2020. With former President Trump’s departure from the White House, it cleared the way for Biden to set in motion his plans to deal with the pandemic and assemble the remaining pieces of the CDC from the ground up all over again.

The 46th Presidential Inauguration Ceremony [Source]

By: Haley Matthews Intern at Science WeeklyFix

Vaccination is the gold standard, but is that the only solution?

The worldwide pandemic has spurred many new clinical trials to help treat or prevent COVID-19. Of note, two new clinical trials are underway which is showing promising results. If approved by the appropriate health agencies, these options could be part of the new standard of care.

  1. Convalescent plasma containing antibodies used from previous COVID+ patients donated plasma- refer to previous post here
  2. SaNOtize– use of a nasal spray containing Nitric Oxide to help fight against COVID upon contact of the virus in the nasal passageway if used within 2 minutes of its entry, claims to be 99.9% effective.

By: Maniza R Science WeeklyFix

If I have blood type O will I be immune to COVID-19?

Scientists are trying to explain the link between different blood groups and COVID-19. Blood groups or blood types are defined by the proteins and sugar molecules that are present on the surface of red blood cells. The most well-studied blood groups are: A, B, AB, and O categories with addition of + or – for Rh factor.

Promising research shows that blood type may play a role in the development of COVID-19 requiring intensive care in hospitals.

Dr. Devine et. al., conducted a study to look at patients critically ill with COVID-19 in the intensive care units of two major Vancouver hospitals. It was found that individuals with blood group A or AB are more likely to have a severe COVID-19 infection, requiring more days in the hospital, and are more likely to be put on a ventilator when in the ICU, as compared to people with blood type B or O.

Moreover, a Danish study showed that individuals with type O blood were less likely to test positive for COVID-19 than individuals with other blood types. Both studies were published in the journal blood advances.

Many theories are already being discussed as to why individuals with certain blood groups or types (mainly blood type O) might have a competitive advantage against the COVID-19 infection. But, more research needs to be done to understand this phenomenon better.

By: Maniza R Science WeeklyFix

Does Genetics Play a role in COVID-19?

image source here All about DNA – Curious (science.org.au)

COVID-19 is a virus that has caused a worldwide pandemic and is responsible for many deaths. It is safe to say that everyone has been affected by this virus, whether they had gotten infected themselves, known a loved one who was infected, or the mere fact that the lockdown had affected their lives.

Data has shown that anyone can get COVID. However, it has been noticed that some individuals may be more susceptible to contracting the virus and developing severe COVID pneumonia: men, the elderly, and those who are immuno-compromised- have a weak immune system.

The question then arises, that does genetics play any role in the risk of contracting severe case of COVID? Two studies have tapped into this, mainly overlooked question.

First, let’s go back to the basics.

Genes are hereditary units that encode for proteins or RNA. These genes can get mutated or ‘changed.’

Proteins called auto-antibodies incorrectly target the body’s organs/ tissues, and this can be quite harmful.

Interferons (IFN) are signalling molecules that are released when the body encounters many viruses. The released interferons alert cells to enhance their defenses. It is clear then, that these interferons are essential for a healthy body.

One study by O Zhang et.al., examined patients whose gene for a certain IFN has been found to be mutated. Another scientist; Bastard et.al., noticed that 10% of patients with severe COVID symptoms had certain autoantibody that is not found in asymptomatic healthy patients and those who do not have extreme forms of COVID infection. Research results show that the faulty type 1 IFN affected serious COVID -19 pneumonia, in at least 2.6% of women and 12.5% of men.

These studies explain that genetics does, indeed, play a role in the development of COVID-19. Additionally, it provides a foundation for determining whether an individual may be susceptible to severe COVID-19 and this research can assist in the production of preventative measures. However, more research would need to be carried to understand the extent of the role genetics has with the risk of severe COVID-19.

By: Nimla Asgher (Intern at Science WeeklyFix)

Should I Wear a Cloth Mask?

Cloth masks are a fairly common choice and are worn by a large number of people. These masks are usually made from cotton material, and can be store-bought or home-made.

Homemade masks have the benefit of adding more layers to increase the efficiency of the mask. This has the added benefit of having multiple designs and can be an additional accessory made to match a person’s outfit. However, are they beneficial?

Studies show that a cloth mask is not as effective when compared to a medical mask. It was found that there was a greater chance of infection when a cloth mask is worn relative to a medical mask. This was due in part to the filtration system being less effective in a cloth mask, along with the added problem of higher moisture retention.

So should cloth masks not be used at all?

Well, a cloth mask is definitely better than no masks. It provides a degree of efficiency in reducing the spread of COVID. For instance, in a location or time where the risk is low for COVID transmission, a cloth mask may not be such a bad choice.

Now, even cloth masks with filters are sold on the market. They are still not recommended as the best option, as air can go out from the filter and COVID can still be spread.

Medical masks should be used by those in high exposure to COVID, where interaction with people is unavoidable.

The consideration of a shortage of medical masks for health-care workers has prompted the innovation of a reusable surgical mask, an initiative which is currently being taken at the UofT Faculty of Medicine.

The world due to COVID has led to the development of many innovative ideas and products in healthcare. It might not be too far stretched to think that a more economical and effective cloth mask be on the market to address the shortcomings of the current day cloth masks.

-By: Nimla Asgher (Intern at Science WeeklyFix)

Joe Biden’s Medical History: Is President Elect Biden at a higher risk of developing Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) like his son Beau Biden?

Often, when hearing the word “Cancer,” many people freeze in fear of the dissolution. The various forms of this disease have been studied extensively, yet there is no cure for cancer after decades of research.

A form of brain cancer, known as Glioblastoma Multiforme, in other words GBM, hits harder to home in the United States.

President Elect, Joe Biden, had lost his son Joseph (Beau) Biden to this malignant and fast spreading form of brain cancer.

Attorney General Beau Biden (D-DE) (L) and Vice Presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) gesture on stage at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado August 27, 2008. U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) is expected to accept the Democratic presidential nomination at the convention on August 28. REUTERS/Chris Wattie (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA) – RTR21RH5

In fact, it is shown that 3.19 in 100,000 US Citizens suffer from GBM each year. The diagnosis is common in 65+ years old demographics.

This aggressive form of brain cancer starts in the brain and eventually spreads throughout the body, resulting in the patient losing their motor and cognitive functions. The prognosis is usually poor in advance cases.

With everything that is known about GBM, it is hard not to question why Beau Biden was diagnosed and died so young? This has led reporters to question his father: Joe Biden’s health and if he could potentially be suffering from any underlying medical conditions.

To date, there has been no substantial evidence reported to indicate that the President Elect, Joe Biden, suffers from any kind of condition. In the past however, he suffered from severe stuttering, but he has overcome these challenges throughout his political career and on the road to his presidency.

The only way to explain this anomaly of Beau Biden’s diagnosis can be attributed to a combination of genetic and environmental predispositions.

It is widely known that an array of environmental stressors (i.e. the state of your environment and physiological stressors (i.e. what you consume, level of stress etc.) can all contribute to the activation of oncogenes (also known as cancer genes).

We may never know entirely all the contributing factors to why Beau developed GBM. But it is highly likely that the President Elect: Joe Biden does have a higher predisposition in his family to develop this medical condition if he shows the characteristic symptoms of GBM.

I Highly encourage Science WeeklyFix Subscribers to not brush these common symptoms under the rug and ignore them. Our position is to wish the best health for the incoming President Elect.

By: Haley Matthews intern at Science Weekly Fix

Can I donate my plasma to help treat Covid?

A recent article on COVID-19 plasma therapy that is being practiced in India can be found here

Currently, trials are ongoing in Canada, such as the initiative by the Canadian Blood Services

This is an experimental therapy, where people who have contracted COVID-19, and have developed antibodies to the virus, and are symptom free for a period of time, are allowed to donate plasma (hopefully containing the antibodies to the virus) to those patients who can benefit from this immune boost.

By: Maniza R Science WeeklyFix

Mom, what is COVID-19?

A young boy, by the name of John, was once able to go to the park to play. His favorite part was building sandcastles, a fortress, and even making a sandstorm. He would play hours on end in the sandpit, until his mother would say: “John, it’s time to go back home.”

That was the case last summer, but this summer was different. John came up to his mother on a lovely summer morning to ask when he would get a chance to go back to the park. His mother took a deep breath and a moment to pause. Then she took John on her lap and explained. “We are not able to go to the park right now.” John was not happy. “Why not, I want to go, and I want to go now!”

This was going to be tough for the mother, but she took another moment to pause and think. “The parks are closed due to COVID-19” She said bluntly. John, was a bit confused. “Mom, what is COVID-19?”

Mom said, “COVID-19 is a virus, and viruses can cause diseases.”

“Oh”  said John

Right now, we need to be safe, and stay at home and avoid going to the park.

“Does the virus live in the park? Asked John

“It does not live anywhere, but it can spread anywhere, it depends who goes there and what they touch, cough, or sneeze on”

“Oh” said John

“Once it is safe, the health experts will let us know, and I will surely take you to the park when the time is right” said Mom

“But I really wanted to go to the sandpit” said John

“How about we make a deal, we will make our own sandbox here at home, as long as you promise me to help me clean up when we are done playing” said Mom

“Ok mom, that sounds like a great idea” said John

Mom knew that John would be happy that if he couldn’t visit the park, then we would have to bring the park to him.

John was a happy cheerful fellow.

By: Maniza R Science WeeklyFix