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Asthma-causing toxins found in e-cigarettes

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Electronic cigarettes, popularly known as e-cigarettes, may contain microbial toxins associated with myriad health problems, including asthma, reduced lung function and inflammation, warns a new study.

For the study, the researchers from Harvard University examined 75 popular e-cigarette products — cartridges (single use) and e-liquids (refillable material) — sold in the US.

The results, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, showed that 27 per cent of these products contained traces of endotoxin, a microbial agent found on Gram-negative bacteria, and 81 per cent contained traces of glucan, which is found in the cell walls of most fungi.
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“Airborne Gram-negative bacterial endotoxin and fungal-derived glucans have been shown to cause acute and chronic respiratory effects in occupational and environmental settings,” said senior study author David Christiani, Professor at Harvard University.

“Finding these toxins in e-cigarette products adds to the growing concerns about the potential for adverse respiratory effects in users,” Christiani added.

The findings showed that 17 of 75 products (23 per cent) contained detectable concentrations of endotoxin and that 61 of 75 products (81 per cent) contained detectable concentrations of glucan.
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The study also found that endotoxin concentrations were higher in fruit-flavoured products, indicating that raw materials used in the production of flavours might be a source of microbial contamination.

The researchers noted that the contamination of the products could have occurred at any point during the production of the ingredients or of the finished e-cigarette product.

“In addition to inhaling harmful chemicals, e-cig users could also be exposed to biological contaminants like endotoxin and glucan,” said lead author of the study Mi-Sun Lee.

Corona

Men produce more Covid antibodies than women says study

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On average, men produce more Covid-19 antibodies than women, say Portuguese researchers, adding that, 90 per cent of the patients have detectable antibodies up to seven months post contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The results, published in the European Journal of Immunology, also show that age is not a confounding factor in levels of antibodies produced, but disease severity is.

“Our immune system recognizes the virus SARS-CoV-2 as harmful and produces antibodies in response to it, which helps to fight the virus,” said study author Marc Veldhoen from Medicina Molecular Joao Lobo Antunes in Portugal.

For the findings, the research team set up an in-house sensitive specific and versatile Covid-19 serology test.

They started to monitor the antibody levels of over 300 Covid-19 hospital patients and healthcare workers, and over 200 post-Covid-19 volunteers.

The results of this six months cross-sectional study show a classic pattern with a rapid increase of antibody levels within the first three weeks after Covid-19 symptoms and, as expected, a reduction to intermediate levels thereafter.

“In this early response phase, on average men produce more antibodies than women, but levels equilibrate during the resolution phase and are similar between the sexes in the months after SARS-CoV-2 infection,” Veldhoen said.

In the acute phase of the immune response, the team observed higher antibody levels in patients with more severe disease.

Also, the results show that age is not a confounding factor for the production of antibodies, as no significant differences were observed between age groups.

Globally, 90 per cent of participants have detectable antibodies up to seven months post contracting Covid-19.

Next, the research team evaluated the function of these antibodies, i.e. their neutralizing activity against the virus SARS-CoV-2.

Also, the research team analysed the neutralizing capacity of the antibodies produced by the patients and volunteers.

“Our work provides detailed information for the assays used, facilitating further and longitudinal analysis of protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2,” Veldhoen said.

Importantly, it highlights a continued level of circulating neutralising antibodies in most people with confirmed SARS-CoV-2.

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