Health Flash

Health Flash: 12.2.20

hope for addiction | Missouri is receiving a $25 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to aid in the state’s fight against the addiction and overdose crisis, and more than $2.7 million of that is going to the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Professor Rachel Winograd is the director of the Missouri Opioid State Targeted Response and State Opioid Response and has co-lead evidence-based initiatives to deal with the problem. The grant will help purchase medications like buprenorphine and methadone, which help people overcome addiction, and naloxone, which reduces incidence of overdose. The money also will help the UMSL team expand its focus beyond opioids to address stimulant use, including methamphetamine and cocaine.

more effective treatment
Researchers at Washington University potentially have found a way to make chemotherapy and radiation therapy more effective. Working with Imperial College London, they identified that a protein in cancer cells works to start the repair process following treatment. The team looked at the protein Mec1 in yeast, which is essentially the same as ATR in humans. Both are activated when cells are stressed and work to repair DNA damage. There already are existing ATR kinase inhibitors, so blocking this repair mechanism with a drug may make killing cancer cells easier.

mask up
A new study from Saint Louis University has shown just how important wearing masks are to stemming the spread of COVID-19. Researchers looked at daily growth rates of coronavirus cases starting three weeks before St. Louis and St. Louis County mask mandates were put into place and ending 12 weeks after. The averages for the areas with mask requirements were 40% lower than those without the policy, such as Franklin, Jefferson and
St. Charles counties.

the eyes have it
Your cornea may be resistant to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Other viruses like Zika and herpes simplex can be found in the cornea and spread to other parts of the body, and some COVID-19 patients experience eye-related symptoms. However, when researchers at Washington University School of Medicine tested donor corneas, they found all were resistant to the novel coronavirus and identified key substances in the tissue that can help or hinder viral growth. These findings don’t determine if other parts of the eyes are susceptible to infection, and researchers note there could be a subset of people whose corneas could support growth of SARS-CoV-2.

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