Flyover Country fights the pandemic
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Doctors repurpose blood machine for COVID treatment
Image by Nhemz for Shutterstock
Here’s another example of the seemingly infinite ways scientists are innovating in the era of coronavirus: Doctors at UofL Health – Jewish Hospital in Louisville are using a machine designed for heart bypass surgery to oxygenate blood in patients with COVID-19.
The machine, called ECMO, removes a patient’s blood, removes the carbon dioxide from it, oxygenates it, warms it back up, and then returns it to the body. The technique is saving lives in COVID patients who can’t breathe well enough to oxygenate their own blood. ECMO, which stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, gives the lungs a chance to rest and heal.
UC: Relationship between cancer and COVID-19
It’s becoming increasingly clear that COVID-19 has an impact on more than just the lungs. Doctors and researchers at the University of Cincinnati have been studying possible impacts of the virus—particularly blood clots—on those who are being treated for cancer.
Cancer alone can create blood clots, but various treatments combined with COVID-19 are raising concerns that cancer therapies such as hormonal and immunotherapies might be creating issues with those diagnosed with the virus.
UC researcher Shuchi Gulati, MD, recently received a $25,000 grant from the North American Thrombosis Forum to study the risks posed by cancer treatments on COVID-19 patients.
Midwest research centers study possible COVID-19 intervention
Clinical-stage drug development company RegeneRx Pharmaceuticals has been studying a new therapy for COVID-19 that has called on expertise from eight US research centers. The team’s recently published study suggests that administering Thymosin beta 4, which can help break up blood clots, could be effective in reducing morbidity in COVID-19 patients.
In the process of their work, the researchers noted that the outcomes for male COVID-19 patients has been worse than for females, regardless of age. Here’s the possible connection: Thymosin beta 4 resides on the X chromosome. And since women have two and men only one, it’s possible that providing pharmaceutical levels of Thymosin beta 4 could improve survival rates.
Air temperature and COVID-19
Many people hoped that warmer summer air temperatures would drive the coronavirus away but that didn’t happen. But does temperature matter at all?
Researchers at the University of Louisville’s Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute, along with researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the U.S. Department of Defense wanted to know more. They compared daily temperatures with logged cases of COVID in 50 northern hemisphere countries.
The researchers found that for every degree in temperature increase, cases declined by 1% and for every degree decrease in temperature, cases rose by 3.7%. This could mean that this winter could bring a surge in COVID cases, but the study is still in its early stages and there's no need to panic.
KSU tests virus life on surfaces
UofL is not the only place looking at the effect of temperature on COVID-19. Researchers at Kansas State University say the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 survives longer on surfaces in lower temperatures and humidity.
With autumn fast approaching, the K-State team tested the live virus on several different surfaces at 13 degrees Celsius (55 degrees Farenheit) and 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Farenheit). They applied the virus to common surfaces, including clothing, cardboard, concrete, rubber, doorknobs, and windows. They found that the virus could survive in hot weather for a day or two but could survive in cold weather for up to a week.
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