Category Archive : News

Spending time in space can lead to brain damage, new research shows

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DPA
Prolonged time in weightlessness is now thought to lead to brain damage, in new research that poses more questions for the health risks of space travel. NASA/dpa

Spending time in space can damage the brains of astronauts, according to new research that poses questions for the long-term risks of future space travel.

Blood tests of space travellers indicate a slight but persistent brain injury and a faster ageing of the brain upon returning to earth, scientists at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich say in a study published in the Jama Neurology journal in October.

The research came just days before “Star Trek” icon William Shatner became the latest in a growing number of non-professional astronauts to enter space.

However while space tourism is set to become a luxury business for rich patrons, the warning of potential brain damage appears to apply only to longer stays in space, and not to the few minutes of weightlessness that are part of new space enterprises like Blue Origin, used by Shatner.

Researchers believe one possible cause of brain damage during space travel is weightlessness, as it disturbs the flow of blood from the head, which is thought to lead to an increase in pressure in the cerebrospinal fluid over time.

Studies had already indicated that longer journeys into space not only cause muscles and bones to shrink, but also have an effect on the astronaut’s brain. However it was unclear whether these processes were harmful.

To find out, LMU physicians Peter zu Eulenburg and Alexander Chouker, together with colleagues in Sweden and Russia, examined the blood of five Russian space travellers who had spent five and a half months in the International Space Station (ISS).

The researchers showed that several proteins characteristic of ageing and brain injuries increased significantly immediately after returning from space. This was especially true for the first week after the return.

In order to keep the risks for space travellers as low as possible during long-term missions such as a trip to Mars, “more comprehensive studies with preventive measures against the increase in pressure in the head are absolutely necessary,” said LMU physician Peter zu Eulenburg.

The phenomenon that longer stays in space lead to changes in the brain has long been known as Spaceflight Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (Sans), said Jens Jordan, Director of the Institute of Aerospace Medicine at the German Aerospace Center.

However, the study does not yet clarify whether the changes in the brain also lead to physical restrictions for those affected: “A biomarker in the blood does not yet say anything about clinical ailments.”

According to Jordan, the space agencies NASA and EA are working on countermeasures. Among other things, they are investigating whether a centrifuge for space travellers with artificial gravity could help.

A study is also currently underway on the effectiveness of negative pressure in the lower half of the body to drain fluids. “This is one of the medical challenges of spaceflight,” Jordan said.

The researchers had analysed the astronauts’ blood before and immediately after the flight, as well as one and three weeks later. Long-term studies and larger subject groups are needed to better understand the connection between the stay in space and possible neurological damage, they write in the scientific journal.

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Merck COVID-19 pill sparks calls for access for lower income countries

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Reuters

By Francesco Guarascio and Michael Erman

(Reuters) – The plan to roll out Merck & Co’s promising antiviral pill to treat COVID-19 risks repeating the inequities of vaccine distribution, potentially leaving the nations with the greatest need once again at the back of the line, international health groups say.

For example, only about 5% of Africa’s population is immunized, creating an urgent need for therapeutics that could keep people out of hospitals. That compares with more than a 70% inoculation rate in most wealthy nations.

Merck on Oct 11 applied for U.S. emergency clearance of the first pill for COVID-19 after it cut hospitalizations and deaths by 50% in a large clinical trial. The medicine, made with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, could gain authorization as soon as December.

The U.S. drugmaker has taken the unusual pandemic step of licensing several generics of its antiviral molnupiravir before its branded version was even authorized for marketing.

But international health officials said even that is not enough for the medicine to reach many in low- and middle-income countries in large enough numbers, while noting shortcomings and red tape among global organizations that could further slow distribution.

Merck this year plans to produce 10 million treatment courses of the pill, which is taken twice a day for five days, and another 20 million next year.

In addition, its licensing deals with eight Indian drugmakers will allow cheaper generic versions for 109 low- and middle-income countries including in Africa, a move international groups acknowledge is a positive concession.

But as wealthy nations secure molnupiravir supply deals – the United States has already locked up 1.7 million courses with an option for 3.5 million more by January of 2023 at about $700 per course – concerns grow over who might be left out.

NOT MOVING QUICKLY ENOUGH

Merck said it has worked on the technology transfer needed to start generic manufacturing, in contrast to vaccine makers who continue to resist calls to waive patents or allow for generic versions to boost supplies.

But a recent report prepared for the United Nations’ Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator program tasked with buying COVID-19 therapeutics for poor countries cited concerns that U.N. agencies were not moving quickly enough to secure adequate volumes of potential new treatments ahead of time, including Merck’s drug.

Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), a United Nations-backed public health organization, has 24 companies signed up and willing to make the drug if Merck agrees to expand the licenses.

“If you’re not in the license, you’re relying on Merck, and it looks to us that that could mean a potential supply shortfall as well as overpricing,” said Peter Maybarduk of Public Citizen, who sits on the MPP governance board. He suggested that could lead to wealthy countries outbidding poor nations for the medicine.

It is unclear how many generic pills will be available or when. The licensed Indian manufacturers including Aurobindo Pharma, Cipla Ltd, Dr. Reddy’s Labs, Emcure Pharmaceuticals, Hetero Labs, Sun Pharmaceuticals, and Torrent Pharmaceuticals declined to provide details on production plans.

In addition, manufacturing for low-income countries in many nations also requires World Health Organization (WHO) approval, a regulatory process that typically takes months.

Merck said it is committed to providing timely access to its drug globally with plans for tiered pricing aligned with a country’s ability to pay. A spokesperson confirmed it is in discussions about expanding licenses for generic molnupiravir “to build sufficient global supply of quality-assured product to meet orders globally.”

But middle-income countries will be hard pressed to negotiate against the richest nations, another MPP official said.

The governments of Australia, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia said they already had deals or were negotiating supply contracts with Merck. The EU is considering buying the pill after Merck applies for authorization in Europe.

The eight generic manufacturers chosen by Merck all have WHO pre-qualified facilities to allow them to supply buyers like the Global Fund, according to Paul Schaper, Merck’s executive director of global public policy. They will set their pricing and decide how much they plan to manufacture.

“What we are anticipating and hoping for is that they will compete with each other on pricing,” Schaper said.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio in Brussels and Michael Erman in New Jersey; Editing by Caroline Humer and Bill Berkrot)

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Jussie Smollett’s criminal case to proceed to trial

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BANG Showbiz English

Jussie Smollett’s criminal case will proceed to trial.

The 39-year-old actor was issued with a 16-count felony indictment for filing a false police report after he claimed he was the victim of a shocking racist and homophobic attack in Chicago in 2019, as it was alleged he knew two men investigated over the incident and claims were made that he had staged the attack.

Jussie’s initial charges were dropped by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office in the same month they were filed, but in February 2020 he was indicted once again for allegedly staging the attack.

His attorney Nenye Uche argued that the criminal case would be a violation of Smollett’s since he has already performed community service and paid a $10,000 bond as part of a previous agreement with the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

However, the attempt to have the case dismissed failed and Judge James Linn has ruled that proceedings will begin on November 29, according to the New York Post’s Page Six.

Smollett has pled not guilty to the charges.

Meanwhile, Jussie said last year he wished he could “yell from the rooftop” about his ongoing criminal case.

Addressing the case on Instagram Live, Jussie explained: “It’s been beyond frustrating because to be somebody that’s so outspoken … it’s been difficult to be so quiet.

“To not be able to say all of the things that you want to say, to not be able to yell from the rooftop.”

Despite maintaining his innocence, Jussie was not feeling optimistic about his case, saying the city of Chicago “won’t let this go”.

The actor also said he fears the court could seek to make an “example” of him.

Jussie said: “They won’t let this go. It doesn’t matter. There is an example being made.

“And the sad thing is that there’s an example being made of someone that did not do what they’re being accused of.”

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Hateful charity worker threatened to kill TV staff simply for supporting LGBT+ people

A charity worker has been sentenced after threatening to kill the staff of an Australian talkshow that supported LGBT+ people. David William Wonnocott, 47, pled guilty to making threats to kill the employees behind ABC’s panel debate show Q+A over its supportive coverage of the LGBT+ community. He specifically singled out Q+A staff on a public … Continued
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Bullying and queerphobia literally change queer people’s genetics, affecting their offspringBullying and queerphobia literally change queer people’s genetics, affecting their offspring

ShutterstockQueerphobia can genetically change the physical appearance and healthiness of a queer person’s children and grandchildren. But there’s also good news… Read More LGBTQ Nation

Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness schools ‘dumb f**k’ Marjorie Taylor Greene on the reality of HIV

Queer Eye‘s Jonathan Van Ness stepped in to school Marjorie Taylor Greene after she attempted to draw comparisons between anti-vaxxers and those living with HIV. The infamously dreadful Republican congresswoman took to Twitter on Thursday (14 October) after learning that NBA athletes who refuse the COVID vaccine will be banned from playing. Among those who … Continued
The post Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness schools ‘dumb f**k’ Marjorie Taylor Greene on the reality of HIV appeared first on PinkNews – Gay news, reviews and comment from the world’s most read lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans news service. Read More PinkNews – Gay news, reviews and comment from the world’s most read lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans news service

Watch 'SNL's Bowen Yang Kill It as Gay Oompa Loompa, Daddy Long Legs

Bowen Yang on SNL

At this point, he’s quickly becoming the only reason we watch.

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Police ignored a gay-bashed couple’s calls for help until the day afterPolice ignored a gay-bashed couple’s calls for help until the day after

Screenshot“It’s horrible, I keep getting really upset about it,” the survivor’s father said. “These people need to be named and shamed.” Read More LGBTQ Nation

Russia launches unofficial RuPaul’s Drag Race rip-off with a glaringly obvious problem

An unofficial adaption of RuPaul’s Drag Race has launched in Russia, but it’s removed everything queer from the show. Royal Cobras is hosted by Russian TV presenter and social media star Nastya Ivleeva. The Russian show has all the trappings of the Drag Race franchise including wonderful costumes, comedic performances and lip-sync battles. But it … Continued
The post Russia launches unofficial RuPaul’s Drag Race rip-off with a glaringly obvious problem appeared first on PinkNews – Gay news, reviews and comment from the world’s most read lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans news service. Read More PinkNews – Gay news, reviews and comment from the world’s most read lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans news service

Saturday Night Live’s ‘proud gay Oompa Loompa’ spills the tea on Timothée Chalamet’s twink Wonka

Saturday Night Live (SNL) enlisted a “proud gay Oompa Loompa” for a hilarious skit on Timothée Chalamet’s irresistible twink Wonka. Last night’s episode (16 October) saw Colin Jost’s Weekend Update discuss the first-look photos of Chalamet as a young Willy Wonka that set the internet on fire this week. “Many on social media [are] calling him a … Continued
The post Saturday Night Live’s ‘proud gay Oompa Loompa’ spills the tea on Timothée Chalamet’s twink Wonka appeared first on PinkNews – Gay news, reviews and comment from the world’s most read lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans news service. Read More PinkNews – Gay news, reviews and comment from the world’s most read lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans news service