Gadget: Time-saving and Energy-saving 3-partition Frying Pan

Making breakfast and lunch easier

In the Blood: Which Antibodies Best Neutralize the Coronavirus In COVID-19 Patients?

Blood tests to detect antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, are an important tool for diagnosing the disease, developing potential treatments, and checking vaccine efficacy. Although such tests are available, we have very little understanding on how different antibodies interact with virus antigens. Scientists from Fujita Health University set out to assess various antigen-specific antibodies and determined which of them had the strongest neutralizing activity against SARS-CoV-2.

The COVID-19 pandemic has now claimed over 2 million deaths worldwide, and this number is only increasing. In response, health agencies have rolled out tests to diagnose and understand the disease. Besides the now widely known PCR test, there is interest in serological (blood) tests that detect “antibodies” against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. These blood tests have considerable applications, from identifying blood donors with high levels of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, whose blood can be used for convalescent plasma therapy, to measuring vaccine effectiveness.

So, what are antibodies? These are proteins produced by the body’s immune system to combat foreign proteins, such as the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Antibodies function by binding to a specific part of the virus that the immune system recognizes, called “antigens.” SARS-CoV-2 is composed of four major proteins, with two being highly immunogenic (capable of producing an immune response). These immunogenic proteins are called spike (S) and nucleocapsid (N) proteins. Presence of antibodies specific to the S protein means there is a higher amount of virus-neutralizing activity while antibodies specific to N protein indicate the presence of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Despite this general awareness, we actually have only a vague understanding of how different antibodies (or antibody “isotypes”) interact with the various antigens produced by SARS-CoV-2. Hence, a team of scientists led by Senior Assistant Professor Hidetsugu Fujigaki and Professor Yohei Doi from Fujita Health University, in collaboration with National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Japan, FUJIFILM Wako Pure Chemical Corporation, and FUJIFILM Corporation undertook the first detailed investigation of these interactions. “Our goal was to quantify the neutralizing activity of these different antibodies against SARS-CoV-2,” Dr. Fujigaki explains, “We looked at antibodies specific to different parts of the S protein and the N protein to determine which of them was the best predictor of stopping the virus.”

They did this through an analysis of blood samples from 41 COVID-19 patients at the Fujita Health University Hospital. The team developed assays using three common antibodies (IgG, IgM, and IgA), each of them split into isotypes that bind specifically to five antigens (three parts of the S protein, including the receptor binding domain [RBD], the full S protein, and the full N protein).

The results of their experiments showed that all antibody isotypes that bind to the S protein (full and parts) were highly specific, but antibody isotypes binding to the N protein were less so. With minor variations, all antibodies are detectable in patients at approximately 2 weeks after symptoms appear, and detection sensitivity was higher than 90% (except in the case of IgM binding to N protein). Importantly, the researchers showed that IgG specific to the RBD of S protein had the highest correlation with virus neutralizing activity and disease severity. In other words, measuring RBD-specific IgG levels could tell us a lot about the immune response of COVID-19 patients, and could be the foundation for improving COVID-19 blood tests.

“We are also very excited by our findings because of their implications for convalescent serum/plasma therapy, a type of treatment where you transfuse blood from people who recovered from COVID and have high levels of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2,” Dr. Fujigaki adds, “Being able to show that the IgG antibody against RBD is highly correlated with neutralizing activity means we can identify appropriate blood donors for this treatment.”

The world is hopefully moving into the final stages of the pandemic, and this information could be the tools needed to carve out the final few steps to a safe post-pandemic world.

Source: Fujita Health University

In Picture: Popular Malaysian Food

Otak-otak

Tepung pelita

Rempeyek

Satay

Rojak

Putu piring

Feel Younger Than Your Age? You Might Live Longer

Alan Mozes wrote . . . . . . . . .

Can feeling young at heart, or at least younger than your actual age, help older people live healthier, longer lives?

Yes, according to researchers in Germany.

“Individuals who feel younger than they chronologically are seem to benefit from their younger subjective age in various aspects,” explained study lead author Markus Wettstein.

Surveying more than 5,000 middle-aged adults and seniors, his team found that feeling younger seems to create a protective force field against stress. And the “connection seems to work via various pathways,” said Wettstein, who was a researcher with the German Centre of Gerontology in Berlin when the study was conducted.

On the one hand, he noted that stress reduction due to a youthful self-perception may translate into tangible physical benefits, including staving off the threat of systemic inflammation.

Having a youthful sense of self may also shape behavior in positive ways that help to keep physical and mental well-being intact.

“Individuals who feel younger [may] engage in health-protective behaviors,” Wettstein said. For example, they may be more physically active than those who don’t feel quite as young.

In addition, perceiving oneself to be younger might also be a motivating force behind self-improvement, giving folks a greater “health-enhancing” confidence in their ability to accomplish things successfully and effectively.

The study participants’ average age was 64. All were enrolled in a larger ongoing study on aging and physical and mental health.

Over three years, they were asked to indicate how old they felt, how much stress they experienced, and how well they could perform basic everyday activities, such as walking, dressing and/or bathing.

Overall, those who reported greater stress also indicated a greater decline in their ability to execute those routine tasks. And that association was generally found to be stronger as people aged.

But the link between stress and impairment was notably weaker among those who indicated they felt younger than their true age. In fact, feeling younger was found to be particularly protective the longer-toothed one actually got.

All of this suggests that interventions designed to help older adults feel younger than they are might help seniors stay healthier and live longer, Wettstein and his colleagues observed.

One U.S. researcher not involved in the study said that prior efforts to explore the question of “subjective age” seem to support the German team’s findings.

“I don’t find this surprising at all, given the considerable prior research that has shown that feeling younger than your actual age is associated with a wide range of indicators of better health,” said James Maddux. He’s a professor emeritus from George Mason University’s Department of Psychology, and a senior scholar with GMU’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being, in Fairfax, Va.

“What this study tells us that’s new,” Maddux said, “is that there seems to be an indirect path from feeling younger and being healthier, in that feeling younger seems to protect people from the unhealthy effects of stress. And that this effect gets stronger as we get older.”

Maddux suggested that feeling young may ultimately give rise to a so-called “virtuous cycle,” causing people to take better care of themselves, and thereby refueling a youthful sense of self.

“I just lost the 10 pounds I gained during the pandemic,” Maddux volunteered. “And I certainly feel younger than I did three months ago now that I can see my abs again!”

Still, Wettstein and his team cautioned that prior research suggests the potential health benefits of youthful perceptions may evaporate if the gap between how young one feels and how old one actually is grows too large.

The debate, said Wettstein, is “whether too-optimistic perspectives on one’s own aging might have disadvantages, as those over-optimistic individuals might not anticipate certain potential age-related losses, and are thus unprepared when they set in.”

For now, more research is required to determine what degree of “positivity” in views on aging — and which subjective age — is most beneficial for health, longevity and well-being, he added.

The findings were published in the Psychology and Aging.

Source: HealthDay

Nyonya-style Coconut Sago Cones (Abuk Abuk Sago)

Ingredients

200 g sago
50 g grated white coconut
150 ml thick coconut milk with 100 ml water
100 g palm sugar
a drop of Pandan paste
banana leaves
salt to taste

Method

  1. Add some water to sago and drain. Mix the sago with coconut milk, grated white coconut, salt and pandan paste. Set aside for 30 minutes.
  2. Cut banana leaves into strips and scald them to soften.
  3. Cut palm sugar into small pieces and chill in the refrigerator.
  4. Roll banana leaf into cones and half fill with the sago mixture, Put a few pieces of palm sugar into the sago.
  5. Fill up the other half with the sago mixture. Fold the base of the banana leaf down and secure with a toothpick,
  6. Steam for 25 – 30 minutes over high heat or until cooked.

Source: Delicious Nyonya Kueh and Desserts


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