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Drugs mimicking cigarette smoke may help Covid-19 therapy: Study

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 Researchers have identified two drugs that mimic the effect of chemicals in cigarette smoke and reduce the ability of SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus causing Covid-19, to enter cells.

The two drugs — 6-formylindolo(3,2-b)carbazole (FICZ) and omeprazole (OMP) mimic cigarette smoke’s effects to bind to a receptor in mammalian cells that inhibits production of ACE2 proteins, a process that appears to reduce the ability of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The findings appear in the journal Scientific Reports.

FICZ is a derivative of the amino acid tryptophan, while OMP is a medication already widely used in the treatment of acid reflux and peptic ulcers.

Something of a paradox exists with respect to smoking cigarettes and Covid-19. Active smoking is associated with increased severity of disease, but at the same time, many reports have suggested lower numbers of Covid cases amongst smokers than amongst non-smokers.

“We must stress the presence of strong evidence showing that smoking increases the severity of Covid-19,” said Keiji Tanimoto of Hiroshima University’s Research Institute for Radiation Biology and Medicine. “But the mechanism we discovered here is worth further investigation as a potential tool to fight SARS-CoV-2 infections,” Tanimoto added.

It is known that cigarette smoke contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These can bind to and activate aryl hydrocarbon receptors (AHRs).

The researchers wanted to investigate the effect of drugs that activate AHR on expression of the genes that control production of the ACE2 protein — the infamous receptor protein on the surface of many cell types that works like a lock that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is able to pick. After binding the virus to the ACE2 protein, it can then enter and infect the cell.

The scientists found that those cells originating in the oral cavity, lungs and liver had the highest ACE2 expression. These high-ACE2-expression cells were then subjected to various doses of cigarette-smoke extract for 24 hours.

Further, using RNA sequencing analysis, they found that the cigarette smoke extract and these two drugs — all of which act as activators of AHR — are able to suppress the expression of ACE2 in mammalian cells, and by doing so, reduce the ability of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to enter the cell.

Based on the findings in the lab, the team is now proceeding with pre-clinical and clinical trials on the drugs as a novel anti-Covid-19 therapy.

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EC’s song ‘Main Bharat Hoon’ to nudge voters for upcoming polls

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The Election Commission (EC) is gearing up for the nine Assembly Elections this year and the Lok Sabha polls early next year with the aim of pushing the voter percentages through innovative communication strategies.

As one of the initiatives, the EC, in collaboration with Subhash Ghai Foundation, produced a song – ‘Main Bharat Hoon, Hum Bharat ke Matdata Hain’, featuring celebrities from different walks of life, appealing to the people to cast their vote.

The song, which was screened in the presence of President Droupadi Murmu on the 13th National Voters Day — January 25, is already beginning to gain traction on social media through celebrities and influencers.

Officials said that within a week since its launch, the Hindi and the multilingual format of the song had already got over 3.5 lakh views and 5.6 lakh impressions on four major social media platforms — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

The song is one of such initiatives of EC’s ‘Systematic Voter’s Education and Electoral Participation’ programme, which is the flagship voter education programme focused on inclusion strategies and action plans for enhancing participation from all categories of voters under EC’s motto of ‘No Voter to be Left Behind’.

The song is aimed not only at educating the voters regarding their rights and responsibility towards strengthening democracy, but also at enthusing them for greater participation in the electoral process.

As per EC officials, the song was finalised after a number of interactions of the team led by Subhash Ghai with the Election Commission led by Rajiv Kumar, Chief Election Commissioner.

The Chief Election Commissioner said: “The song is dedicated to each voter who takes cognisance of their national duty and casts vote, beating all odds.”

The motivating lyrics of the song are written and composed by the filmmaker, Subhash Ghai, in association with Whistling Woods International School of Music, Mumbai and it is sung in Hindi and 12 regional languages including Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Assamese, Odia, Kashmiri, Santali covering the maximum geographical area.

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Mumbai: Elderly woman killed in Dharavi cloth unit fire

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Mumbai: A 62-year-old woman was killed in a massive fire that engulfed several small garment manufacturing units in Dharavi here on Wednesday, the BMC Disaster Control said.

The blaze was noticed around 1.p.m on Wednesday in four-five cloth producing units and spread quickly to two buildings of two floors standing adjacent to each other, sparking panic in the thickly congested locality.

The woman was trapped in the ground floor bathroom of one of the units and was rushed to the Sion Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The victim has been identified as one Usha Londhe, 62, said the BMC, and more details are awaited.

The Mumbai Fire Brigade is fighting the conflagration which was confined to the electric wiring and installations, bundles of textile garments and machineries.

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Hindenburg report effect: Gautam Adani out of world’s top 10 richest list

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The richest Indian and Asian in the world, billionaire Gautam Adani, has seen his fortune decrease, which has caused him to fall out of the top 10 richest people in the world according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Adani Group lost more than Rs 5,29,865 crore in the last seven days following the publication of Hindenburg Research’s investigative report accusing Adani of brazen fraud and stock manipulation.

The Chairman of the Indian conglomerate Adani Group, Gautam Adani, has a net worth of $84.4 billion, while Jeff Bezos’ net worth increased to $124 billion as of January 31, 2023. 

With $189 billion, Bernard Arnault is still the richest man alive. According to data from Bloomberg, Gautam Adani’s net worth dropped by $8.21 billion in the past day and has lost $36.1 billion overall.

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