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.
India, Iran discuss Chabahar port, other bilateral issues
India’s Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra on Tuesday spoke to Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Ali Bagheri Kani and discussed various bilateral issues, according to a Ministry of External Affairs statement.
“The two sides discussed various elements of bilateral relations, including progress on the Chabahar Port. The Foreign Secretary underscored India’s commitment to strengthen bilateral cooperation with Iran in addressing shared opportunities and challenges. Both sides also discussed international and regional issues including Afghanistan,” the statement said.
The discussion comes soon after Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian visited India in June and met his Indian counterpart S. Jaishankar. He also paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Was happy to receive Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian for a useful discussion on further development of Centuries-old civilizational links between India and Iran. Our relations have mutually benefited both the countries and have promoted regional security and prosperity,” the Prime Minister tweeted after the meeting.
Proposal sent to rename wards in Ayodhya after Kalyan Singh, Ashok Singhal
The Ayodhya Municipal corporation has sent a proposal to the Uttar Pradesh government to rename wards here after heroes of the Ram Mandir movement, namely Kalyan Singh and Ashok Singhal, after delimitation.
The proposal also called for renaming a ward after Mahant Abhiram Das, also one of the architects of the temple movement, Rathhaveli ward as Shaheed Veer Abdul Hameed ward, Begumganj Gadhaiya ward as Ambedkar ward, Fatehganj ward as Jai Prakash Narain ward and Haiderganj ward as Nanakpura ward.
Ayodhya has a total of 60 wards.
India logs 13086 Covid cases, 19 deaths
India reported 13,086 Covid cases in past 24 hours against previous day’s 16,135 count, Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday.
In the same period, 19 fatalities took the nationwide death toll to 5,25,242.
Meanwhile, the active caseload has also risen to 1,14,475 cases, accounting for 0.26 per cent total positive cases.
The recovery of 12,456 patients in the last 24 hours took the cumulative tally to 4,28,91,933. Consequently, India’s recovery rate stands at 98.53 per cent.
Meanwhile, the Daily Positivity rate has also declined to 2.90 per cent, while the Weekly Positivity Rate currently stands at 3.81 per cent.
Also in the same period, a total of 4,51,312 tests were conducted across the country, increasing the overall tally to over 86.44 crore.
As of Tuesday morning, the Covid-19 vaccination coverage exceeded 198.09 crore, achieved via 2,58,74,950 sessions.
Over 3.69 crore adolescents have been administered with a first dose of Covid-19 jab since the beginning of vaccination drive for this age bracket.
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