Every week, HEADlines brings you the latest news, stories and commentaries
in education and healthcare. This week, get insights on the latest developments in healthcare.
‘Killer’ T-cells: the silver lining in COVID
When it comes to immunity against COVID-19, antibodies have taken centrestage. Researchers religiously track the levels of neutralising antibodies in a person after taking a vaccine, correlating it directly with how protective the vaccine is.
What has been overlooked in this process is the immune system’s second line of defense – the T-cells. Simply put, antibodies do the work of stopping viruses from getting into our cells. But if the virus does infect a cell, T-cells then come into play to identify and kill these infected cells, thereby eliminating the virus.
Researchers are finding that T-cells could hold the key to long-term immunity against COVID-19, given their resilience compared to antibodies. Recent studies show that despite Omicron’s ability to dodge antibodies, it is unable to escape T-cell responses induced by vaccination or natural infection, thereby preventing most infections from progressing to critical illness. What’s more interesting is that even T-cells from common cold coronaviruses have been found to provide protection.
As the world shifts towards treating COVID as endemic, reducing the severity of the disease will become more important than reducing the number of infections. Having sufficient T-cell protection could turn the tide against the pandemic, opening up a whole new perspective towards immunity against COVID-19.
Healthcare in the Spotlight
Bloomberg: Frequent boosters spur warning on immune response
Repeat booster doses every four months could eventually weaken the immune response and tire out people, says the European Medicines Agency.
Photo credits: Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash
The Washington Post: Pfizer plans to manufacture up to 100 million doses of omicron-specific vaccine by March
The move reflects rising concerns that current vaccines may need to be tweaked for new coronavirus variants.
The Straits Times: Stress may be your heart’s worst enemy
Chronic psychological stress may be as important – possibly more important – to the health of your heart than the traditional cardiac risk factors.
Today (Commentary): ‘This is going to hurt’ – when doctors have to ready patients for pain and grief
A fourth-year student at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, reflects on helping patients prepare for pain and their healing journey.
CNN Health: Exercise may protect your brain even if you have signs of dementia, study finds
A new study finds that physical activities increase synaptic protein levels in brain tissue which are known to protect against cognitive decline.
AZO Robotics: AI technology aids the development of Traditional Chinese Medicine-based drugs for Alzheimer’s disease
Built by a research team at the Institute of Chinese Medical Sciences at the University of Macau, this algorithm has effectively detected numerous small-molecule TCM compounds with therapeutic possibilities against Alzheimer’s.
Photo credits: Dr. Zhuoling Ren on Flickr
The Guardian: Global heating linked to early birth and damage to babies’ health, scientists find
Studies show high temperatures and air pollution during pregnancy can cause lifelong health effects.
The Scotsman: New health risks for sea users and shellfish as climate change drives spread of harmful marine bacteria
Surfers, kayakers, wild swimmers, fishermen and seafood lovers in the UK could face an increased risk of serious illness from contaminated seawater as climate change pushes up sea temperatures.
Stretches to do at work every day
The habits we build at our desks, especially while sitting, can contribute to discomfort and health issues. Here are some simple stretches you can do right at your desk to keep the stiffness away.