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Mild COVID-19 Patients Develop Antibody-producing Cells that Can Last Lifetime

Tamara Bhandari wrote . . . . . . . . .

People who have had a mild case of COVID-19 are left with long-term antibody protection against future disease, according to a study from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Months after recovering from mild cases of COVID-19, people still have immune cells in their body pumping out antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19, according to a study from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Such cells could persist for a lifetime, churning out antibodies all the while.

The findings, published in the journal Nature, suggest that mild cases of COVID-19 leave those infected with lasting antibody protection and that repeated bouts of illness are likely to be uncommon.

“Last fall, there were reports that antibodies wane quickly after infection with the virus that causes COVID-19, and mainstream media interpreted that to mean that immunity was not long-lived,” said senior author Ali Ellebedy, PhD, an associate professor of pathology & immunology, of medicine and of molecular microbiology. “But that’s a misinterpretation of the data. It’s normal for antibody levels to go down after acute infection, but they don’t go down to zero; they plateau. Here, we found antibody-producing cells in people 11 months after first symptoms. These cells will live and produce antibodies for the rest of people’s lives. That’s strong evidence for long-lasting immunity.”

During a viral infection, antibody-producing immune cells rapidly multiply and circulate in the blood, driving antibody levels sky-high. Once the infection is resolved, most such cells die off, and blood antibody levels drop. A small population of antibody-producing cells, called long-lived plasma cells, migrate to the bone marrow and settle in, where they continually secrete low levels of antibodies into the bloodstream to help guard against another encounter with the virus.

The key to figuring out whether COVID-19 leads to long-lasting antibody protection, Ellebedy realized, lies in the bone marrow. To find out whether those who have recovered from mild cases of COVID-19 harbor long-lived plasma cells that produce antibodies specifically targeted to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, Ellebedy teamed up with co-author Iskra Pusic, MD, an associate professor of medicine. Ellebedy already was working with co-authors Rachel Presti, MD, PhD, an associate professor of medicine, and Jane O’Halloran, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine, on a project to track antibody levels in blood samples from COVID-19 survivors.

The team already had enrolled 77 participants who were giving blood samples at three-month intervals starting about a month after initial infection. Most participants had had mild cases of COVID-19; only six had been hospitalized.

With Pusic’s help, Ellebedy and colleagues obtained bone marrow from 18 of the participants seven or eight months after their initial infections. Five of them came back four months later and provided a second bone marrow sample. For comparison, the scientists also obtained bone marrow from 11 people who had never had COVID-19.

As expected, antibody levels in the blood of the COVID-19 participants dropped quickly in the first few months after infection and then mostly leveled off, with some antibodies detectable even 11 months after infection. Further, 15 of the 19 bone marrow samples from people who had had COVID-19 contained antibody-producing cells specifically targeting the virus that causes COVID-19. Such cells could still be found four months later in the five people who came back to provide a second bone-marrow sample. None of the 11 people who had never had COVID-19 had such antibody-producing cells in their bone marrow.

“People with mild cases of COVID-19 clear the virus from their bodies two to three weeks after infection, so there would be no virus driving an active immune response seven or 11 months after infection,” Ellebedy said. “These cells are not dividing. They are quiescent, just sitting in the bone marrow and secreting antibodies. They have been doing that ever since the infection resolved, and they will continue doing that indefinitely.”

People who were infected and never had symptoms also may be left with long-lasting immunity, the researchers speculated. But it’s yet to be investigated whether those who endured more severe infection would be protected against a future bout of disease, they said.

“It could go either way,” said first author Jackson Turner, PhD, an instructor in pathology & immunology. “Inflammation plays a major role in severe COVID-19, and too much inflammation can lead to defective immune responses. But on the other hand, the reason why people get really sick is often because they have a lot of virus in their bodies, and having a lot of virus around can lead to a good immune response. So it’s not clear. We need to replicate the study in people with moderate to severe infections to understand whether they are likely to be protected from reinfection.”

Ellebedy and colleagues now are studying whether vaccination also induces long-lived antibody-producing cells.

Source: Washington University School of Medicine

Burger King Germany Will Open a Pop-up Meatless Outlet in Cologne in June

Anna Starostinetskaya wrote . . . . . . . . .

The first entirely meatless Burger King location will open for a limited time this summer in Cologne, Germany. From June 7 until June 11, the vegetarian Burger King will only serve plant-based meat options made by European brand The Vegetarian Butcher at the Cologne location. During this time period, Burger King Germany will also debut its newest item: a plant-based version of The Long Chicken (also called Chicken Royale in other countries), a plant-based chicken sandwich served with vegan mayonnaise on a long sesame seed bun.

In September 2020, Burger King added vegan chicken nuggets made by The Vegetarian Butcher to its menu in Germany. The soy-based nuggets—which are now fried in a separate fryer used for plant-based products—are offered with vegan dipping sauces. German customers can also order the Rebel Whopper at Burger King, which features a plant-based patty also made by The Vegetarian Butcher.

While Burger King will not serve meat at the Cologne branch, the chain has not announced if the menu will be entirely free from animal products such as dairy.

Plant-based at Burger King

The Vegetarian Butcher—which was acquired by Unilever in 2018—has been working with Burger King in recent years to expand its plant-based options across 25 countries. Thus far, in addition to the options in Germany, the partnership has resulted in the launch of the Whopper Vegetal in Mexico, the Plant-Based Whopper in China, and growing vegan options at Burger King’s United Kingdom locations.

Earlier this month, Burger King added the Vegan Chicken Royale and new, fully vegan, Plant-Based Whopper—both made in partnership with The Vegetarian Butcher—to its UK outposts. The chain previously offered the Plant-Based Whopper but it was made with egg-based mayonnaise. After a brief hiatus during the pandemic, Burger King UK relaunched the Plant-Based Whopper with vegan mayonnaise. In January 2021, Burger King UK also relaunched its classic Veggie Bean Burger as The Vegan Bean Burger (which no longer includes dairy cheese and egg-based mayonnaise). Burger King UK CEO Alasdair Murdoch explained that the chain’s UK menu is expected to become 50 percent plant-based by 2031 as the chain continues to replace meat with fully vegan options.

In the Asia Pacfic region, Burger King is working with Australian company v2Food to supply plant-based meats to its locations in South Korea, Japan, and the Philippines. The plant-based patty used in this region was developed in partnership with Australia’s national science agency CSIRO and Jack Cowin, the founder of Burger King franchise brand Hungry Jack, who invested $1 million to develop the beef alternative.

In its home country of the United States, Burger King has offered a meatless Impossible Whopper (ordered plant-based by omitting mayonnaise) at more than 7,200 since 2019. This burger is made with a plant-based Impossible Burger patty and served with tomatoes, onions, lettuce, non-vegan mayonnaise (which can be omitted), ketchup, and pickles on a toasted sesame seed bun. Last month, Canadians finally got a taste of the Impossible Whopper when Burger King launched the plant-based burger at its locations across Canada—the first chain to bring the Impossible Burger to the country.

Source: Veg News

Study: Low- or High-Dose, Aspirin Brings Similar Protection Against Heart Disease

When it comes to taking a daily aspirin to cut heart patients’ risk of heart attack and stroke, a new study finds dosing doesn’t matter.

Researchers looked at more than 15,000 heart disease patients at 40 health centers across the United States who took either 81 milligrams (mg) or 325 mg of daily aspirin for a median of 26.2 months.

Though there were no significant differences between the two doses in terms of safety or effectiveness, patients taking the higher dose were much more likely to switch doses during the study.

Patients in the higher dose group were also slightly more likely to stop taking aspirin for a number of reasons, including intolerance and their own and health care providers’ preferences, according to the study presented at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) virtual annual meeting and published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“We found that both doses had similar effectiveness and safety, and while there were differences in dose switching between the groups, generally patients with heart disease should take low-dose aspirin given its tolerability and no clear benefit with higher doses of daily aspirin,” lead investigator Dr. Schuyler Jones, from the Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, N.C., said in an ACC news release.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women and most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. Millions of Americans with heart disease take aspirin to reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke.

But even though this treatment has been used for decades, there’s been a lack of definitive research on which doses provide the greatest benefits for patients and minimize potentially serious side effects, such as major bleeding, the researchers noted.

Source: HealthDay

Thai Fisherman’s Catch

Ingredients

20 jumbo shrimp
20 mussels in their shells
2 oz oyster mushrooms, wipe cleaned
2 scallions, finely sliced
3 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
1 lemon grass stalk, center part only, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
3-1/2 oz dried medium rice noodles

Thai Coconut Dressing

1/2 cup creamed coconut
3 tbsp lime juice
1-1/2 tbsp nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
1-1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1-2 fresh red chilies, to taste, seeded and thinly sliced
1 small garlic clove, crushed

Method

  1. To cook the shrimp, bring a pan of water to a boil with several lemon slices, 1 sliced shallot, and 1 tablespoon lightly crushed peppercorns while you prepare the shrimp. To devein the shrimp, shell and remove the heads. Leave the tails intact or remove. as you like. Hold a shrimp with its back upward. Using a small knife, slice along the back, from the head to the tail end. Use the tip of the knife to pull the black vein.
  2. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting, add the shrimp, and poach them just until they turn opaque and curl. Drain the shrimp and immediately transfer them to a bowl of iced water. When they are cool, pat them dry, and let chill until required.
  3. To cook the mussels, scrub them well and discard any with broken shells or any open ones that don’t close when tapped. Put them in a pan over high heat and shake for 2-4 minutes, until they open. Discard any that remain closed. Cool in iced water, then let chill.
  4. To make the dressing, stir all the ingredients together in a large bowl until the sugar dissolves. Add the shrimp, mussels, mushrooms, scallions. lime leaves, lemon grass, and red onion, then cover and let chill until required.
  5. Meanwhile, soak the noodles in a bowl with enough lukewarm water to cover for 20 minutes, until soft. Alternatively, cook according to the package instructions. Drain well.
  6. To serve, divide the noodles between 4 bowls. Spoon the seafood salad over them, adding any extra dressing.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Noodles


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