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This is why you should replace plastic utensils with steel, glass and copper | Health News


Covid-19 has altered the way we view health and wellness. Today, focusing on the right food, nutrition and boosting immunity no longer remains an afterthought. The pandemic has forced us to pause, rethink and have a holistic approach when it comes to our overall well-being.

While we pay attention to our health by eating healthy, it’s also important to be mindful of what we eat from and ensure our cooking, consumption and storage utensils are safe, sustainable and eco-friendly.

While consumer behaviour is changing to support sustainable brands and eco-friendly practices, plastic still finds dominance in most homes. In fact, our kitchens are replete with plastic jars, containers, utensils, garbage bags etc. and their usage is increasing at an alarming rate. A recent survey states that India generates 6,000 tonnes of plastic every day, nearly 10,000 tonnes of which goes uncollected. Adding to environmental pollution, plastic also has a detrimental effect on our health.

Priyanka Kheruka, Brand Head, Borosil Ltd, said, “When food is heated in plastic, it releases phthalates from the plasticisers and as much as 95 per cent of the chemicals are migrated into our food. Fatty foods like meats and cheese are more prone to leaching and when these are microwaved in a plastic container, the phthalates released can directly affect the lungs, kidneys and liver. BPA on the other hand is linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.”

“Unlike plastic, glass is free of toxic chemicals and also retains the natural flavour on heating. It’s also environmentally friendly and can be easily decomposed without emitting toxic chemicals. Using airtight glass containers for storage cuts down on the usage of cling wrap to ensure cut fruits and vegetables and leftover food does not rot or absorb the chemicals from harmful materials used for wrapping. Having steel utensils to cook food can also have a positive impact on health. Steel does not erode or leach harmful chemicals during cooking. It’s durable, sustainable, helps in retaining the original flavour and is easy to clean, like glass. Replace plastic bottles with stainless steel ones. There are myriad styles and options available in the market today which come in beautiful designs. There are many brands that offer bottles that are 100 per cent food grade and rust-proof and which help in maintaining the temperature of your drink,” she added.

“Copper utensils are ideal conductors of heat and are hygienic and corrosion-resistant. The advantages of storing water in copper vessels and bottles are many, having a direct impact on the skin while also having a therapeutic effect. There are plenty of materials and metals to choose from when it comes to incorporating healthy cooking habits.”

Being mindful and conscientious of how we utilize our daily utensils in the kitchen can go a long way in boosting good health for the family, community and society at large while also leaving a positive footprint on the environment.

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No evidence to prove lung cancer caused by smoking addiction, says court; asks insurer to pay claim | Health News


Ahmedabad: A consumer court here has ordered an insurance company to reimburse the amount of expenditure on medical treatment for lung cancer after the insurer refused to pay the claim saying the patient was addicted to smoking, which caused the disease.

The court said there was no evidence to prove that the patient suffered from lung cancer due to his addiction to smoking, apart from the mention of “addiction smoking” on the treatment papers, which, it said, cannot form the basis for the insurer to reject his claim. It also said that people who do not smoke also suffer from lung cancer.

The insurance company had rejected the claim of Rs 93,297 incurred by policyholder Alok Kumar Banerjee on the treatment of his “adenocarcinoma of lung” or lung cancer, at a private hospital, on the ground that he was addicted to smoking as mentioned on his treatment papers.

Banerjee’s wife, Smita, challenged this in the Ahmedabad Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission together with Consumer Education and Research Centre.

On September 30, the consumer court allowed her petition and observed that there is no evidence to prove that her husband was addicted to smoking, apart from the mention of “addiction smoking” on the treatment papers. Neither was any clarification of evidence sought from the doctor who made the same observation. Observations made in discharge summary or treatment papers alone cannot be counted as conclusive proof. Independent proof is required to be presented to support the claim, it said.

“The complainant’s husband had lung cancer, but there is no proof to ascertain that it was due to his addiction to smoking. The insurer has presented a report from a doctor that says that smokers are 25 times more likely to get lung cancer, but that alone does not prove that he suffered from lung cancer due to smoking,” said the order passed by commission’s president K S Patel and member K P Mehta.

“People who do not smoke also suffer from lung cancer, and all those who smoke do not necessarily suffer from lung cancer. Therefore, the Commission is of the opinion that the insurance company falsely rejected the claim without providing any conclusive proof in its support,” it said.

The court ordered the insurance company to pay Rs 93,297 as claim with 7 per cent interest from the date of application on August 2, 2016. Further, the insurer will pay Rs 3,000 for mental torture and Rs 2,000 towards cost of litigation within 30 days, it said.

The policy was valid between May 2014 and 2015, and the complainant’s husband was treated on July 29, 2014, and incurred a cost of Rs 93,297 over treatment which he claimed form the insurer.

The insurer rejected the claim and said in its repudiation letter that the complainant is not qualified for the claim as per the policy terms and conditions, as he was addicted to smoking. This is based on the hospital papers which mentions “addiction smoking,” it said.

The complainant was a chain smoker and was suffering from lung cancer and had sought treatment in different hospitals. He got cancer due to his smoking habit, as smoking and lung cancer are directly related, the insurance company said in its reply to the court. 


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Extra spacing between letters can boost children’s reading speed | Tips News


A new study has found that a child`s reading speed can be improved by increasing space between the letters in a text. The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘Research in Developmental Disabilities’.

The research, led by Dr Steven Stagg of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), examined the benefits of letter spacing and coloured overlays amongst a group of dyslexic and non-dyslexic children. It is the first study to investigate how these adaptations can help to reduce specific reading errors.

Published in the journal Research in Developmental Disabilities, the study discovered that text with increased space between each letter provided a benefit to both groups of children. On average, the dyslexia group showed a 13 per cent increase in reading speed, while the comparison group of non-dyslexic children showed a 5 per cent increase in reading speed.

The study involved 59 children aged between 11-15, 32 of whom had a statement of dyslexia, with 27 non-dyslexic children forming a control group. The participants were recruited from six UK schools in Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and London.

Participants read four texts with either standard or extra-large letter spacing, both with and without a coloured overlay. The children were instructed to read the text out loud while being recorded. The recording was used to measure the number of errors they made — specifically missed words, added words, wrong words, and pronunciation — as well as the participants’ reading time.

In addition to improved reading speed for both children with dyslexia and the non-dyslexic group, the larger letter spacing also resulted in a significant reduction in the number of words being missed by the children with dyslexia. However, the study found that coloured overlays had no significant impact on reading speed or the reduction of errors for either group of children.

Dr Stagg, a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said, “We found that extra-large letter spacing increases the reading speed of children both with and without dyslexia, and significantly reduces the number of words that dyslexic children skip when reading.”

“We believe that extra-large letter spacing works by reducing what is known as the ‘crowding effect’, which can hamper the recognition of letters and reduce reading speed,” Dr Stagg continued.

“When viewed in the context of previous research, our findings strongly suggest that teaching professionals can be confident that all children would be helped by increased letter spacing in reading materials. As well as being a relatively simple change to make when producing handouts and worksheets, it means that children with dyslexia need not feel singled out by the introduction of specially adapted reading materials, as this is something that everyone can benefit from,” Dr Stagg explained.

“While we found that colour overlays provided little benefit, we suggest that children should be encouraged to use overlays if they find these help their reading. Colour overlays may not increase reading speeds, but they may extend reading stamina,” Dr Stagg added.

“Previous research suggests their benefits may not become apparent if reading time is less than 10 minutes and the short reading duration of the tests in our study may have put colour overlays at a disadvantage,” Dr Stagg concluded.

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Air pollution caused nearly 6 million preterm births worldwide: Study | Health News


New York: Air pollution likely contributed to almost 6 million premature births and almost 3 million underweight babies in 2019, according to a study.

The study, led by the University of California-San Francisco and the University of Washington, quantifies the effects of indoor and outdoor pollution on several key indicators of pregnancy, including gestational age at birth, reduction in birth weight, low birth weight, and pre-term birth.

The analysis, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, stated that the global incidence of pre-term birth and low birthweight could be reduced by almost 78 percent if air pollution were minimised in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where indoor pollution is common and pre-term birth rates are the highest in the world.

But it also found significant risks from ambient air pollution in more developed parts of the world. In the US, for example, outdoor air pollution is estimated to have contributed to almost 12,000 pre-term births in 2019.

“The air pollution-attributable burden is enormous, yet with sufficient effort, it could be largely mitigated,” said lead author Rakesh Ghosh, public health expert at the Institute for Global Health Sciences at UCSF.

The researchers said that air pollution should now be considered a major driver of infant morbidity and mortality, not just of chronic adult diseases.

“Our study suggests that taking measures to mitigate climate change and reduce air pollution levels will have significant health co-benefit for newborns,” Ghosh said.

A growing body of evidence points to air pollution as a major cause of preterm birth and low birth weight. Preterm birth is the leading cause of neonatal mortality worldwide, affecting more than 15 million infants every year. Children with low birthweight or who are born premature have higher rates of major illness throughout their lives.

The World Health Organisation estimates that more than 90 percent of the world’s population lives with polluted outdoor air, and half the global population is also exposed to indoor air pollution from burning coal, dung, and wood inside the home.

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MSD Pharmaceuticals launches gender-neutral HPV vaccine in India | Health News


Mumbai: MSD Pharmaceuticals on Wednesday (September 29) announced the launch of India’s first gender-neutral Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to help reduce HPV-related disease burden in the country. GARDASIL 9, which is a 9-valent HPV vaccine, will also help reduce cancers caused by the HPV types contained in the vaccine, among girls and women aged 9-26 years and boys aged between 9-15 years.

The pharmaceuticals company said that it is the only US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) approved vaccine, first launched in the US in 2015. It has been approved in more than 80 countries across the globe, which helps protect against 9 types of HPV. They said that GARDASIL 9 helps reduce the disease burden of cervical cancer, vulvar cancer, vaginal cancer and anal cancer among females and continues to play a crucial role in the global elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem.

It further stated that the vaccine is also recommended to be given to boys for the prevention of genital warts, anal intraepithelial neoplasia, anal cancer and precancerous or dysplastic lesions.

Managing Director of MSD-India region Rehan A Khan in an official statement said, “Launching GARDASIL 9 is a crucial step towards advancing the mission of building a healthy young India by reducing the disease burden of HPV-related cancers and disease in the country.”

He further noted that raising awareness among parents of young boys and girls is critical in addressing the HPV disease burden in India. “HPV does not discriminate between males and females. Vaccinating both boys and girls is a common practice, and today nearly 25 countries recommend

‘Gender Neutral Vaccine’ programs for protecting both genders against infectious diseases. HPV-Gender Neutral Vaccinations facilitates a more rapid reduction in HPV prevalence as well as a greater resilience towards temporary drops in vaccination coverage,” Dr Vijay Yewale from Dr Yewale Multispecialty Hospital for Children and former President of Indian Academy of Paediatrics said.

Highlighting the efficacy of the vaccine, Dr Hema Divakar, former President of Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India stated, “Nine HPV serotypes contribute to the majority of HPV Global Disease Burden, and some are even more prominent in India.” GARDASIL 9 is a nano valent vaccine given as an intramuscular injection, in a total of three doses spread over six months.

MSD Pharmaceuticals is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Merck Sharp & Dohme (known as Merck & Co., Inc. in the United States and Canada).

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Exclusive: Why reading labels is important while buying packaged poultry food? | Health News


New Delhi: In the current times that we are living in where one and all have made health their utmost priority, one question that arises from a perceptive of consuming the right food through packaged products is – How many of us pay attention to labels when shopping for groceries and other food items? Typically, we may have scanned the brand, price and if we have an extra second, we glance at the expiry date. The nutrition sticker, however, usually goes unnoticed.

All foods have nutrition stickers on them, some detailed, others basic, but more often than not we skip looking at them. Or even if we do, the jargon confuses most of us. And this is especially true for packaged poultry foods. Rarely does someone read their labels, as most people are anyway used to buying the unpackaged versions. Kavita Devgan, Author, Nutritionist and Supporter of Right To Protein, shares why it is vital to go through a nutrition label.

“It is absolutely essential to get Label Wise – to be able to compare products more easily and to be able to choose better foods according to their nutritional value,” says Kavita.

She further adds, “This is also particularly helpful when one has to follow a special diet like have low sodium foods (to prevent hypertension) or have a high fiber diet (to say treat constipation) or a high protein diet (for more energy and muscle building). Reading labels correctly is an excellent skill that adds tremendously to a healthy lifestyle, especially in these unprecedented times where you need to choose your food and especially your proteins carefully.”

So, what should you look out for? 

Some of the important ones to check out in packaged protein food are as below:

•    Serving Size: Always check the serving size mentioned on the packing as this will tell you the amount to eat, and the number of calories and other nutrients the food will give you for that serving size.

•    Calories: As far as calorie intake is concerned, the simple principle to follow is the amount that we eat in a day is equal to or lower than the amount we burn off. Usually, for a sedentary worker, this is around 1600 calories for a woman and around 2000 calories for a man. So, make your calculations accordingly.

•    Protein: The average requirement of protein is between 50 to 75 grams for most people, (more for those who exercise). So, one must calculate accordingly. You can ensure that you have consumed your average daily protein intake by simply calculating the same through Right To Protein’s Protein – O – Meter tool.

•    Total Fat: It is important to understand that 1 gram of fat has 9 calories. So, if your food has 10 grams of fat, it contains 90 calories from fat. It is best to keep calories from fat less than 25 percent of the total calories. Plus, just looking at total fat is not good enough, it’s the breakup that matters. Cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats should be looked up as they have a plaque-building effect on the arteries


Reading the labels can help you choose animal protein (livestock) sources that are: 

•    Unprocessed, low in saturated fat, antibiotics, hormone, chemicals, and pesticides free, and grown in safe, environment-friendly conditions with the latest technology (you don’t want to ingest toxins too along with the goodness of protein).

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•    From a good source to ensure (truly) high-quality protein that is good for you. What the poultry eats is what we eat eventually too. Simply put, the feed that they are being given determines their true protein quality. A combination of corn and soybean together as feed works very well as it delivers complete protein to the poultry. Soy Fed products have better nutrition profile due to the superior amino acids profile and amino acid digestibility of soybean meal, so lookout for this information on the labels. In addition, soy protein is low in fat, free of saturated fat and cholesterol and is thus an ideal protein source to boost the nutrient density of the poultry that you are eating.

To summarize, reading the label will help you make informed choices. Lookout for the recently introduced India’s first feed label – Soy Fed on products. It will help you identify the protein source of poultry, livestock, and fish and further help determine the quality of protein being consumed. 

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Are you overweight? It can make your hair go thin | Health News


Researchers have found the reason behind why obesity can lead to hair thinning. The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘Nature’. They found that stem cells within hair follicles in mice given a high-fat diet behaved differently from those in mice with a standard diet.

Inflammatory signals in the stem cells led to these differences, ultimately resulting in hair thinning and loss. These fascinating data shed light on the complicated link between obesity and organ dysfunction. It’s well known that obesity is linked to the development of numerous diseases in humans. Heart disease, diabetes, and other ailments are extremely common in obese individuals. However, it’s not fully clear how body organs specifically deteriorate and lose functionality from chronic obesity.

In a recent study, a group of researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) used mouse model experiments to examine how a high-fat diet or genetically induced obesity can affect hair thinning and loss. The authors found that obesity can lead to depletion of hair follicle stem cells (HFSCs) through the induction of certain inflammatory signals, blocking hair follicle regeneration and ultimately resulting in loss of hair follicles.

Normally, HFSCs self-renew every hair follicle cycle. This is part of the process that allows our hair to continuously grow back. As humans age, HFSCs fail to replenish themselves leading to fewer HFSCs and therefore hair thinning. Although overweight people have a higher risk of androgenic alopecia, whether obesity accelerates hair thinning, how and the molecular mechanisms have been largely unknown.

The TMDU group aimed to address those questions and identified some of the mechanisms. “High-fat diet feeding accelerates hair thinning by depleting HFSCs that replenish mature cells that grow hair, especially in old mice. We compared the gene expression in HFSCs between HFD-fed mice and standard diet-fed mice and traced the fate of those HFSCs after their activation,” said the lead author of the study Hironobu Morinaga.

“We found that those HFSCs in HFD-fed obese mice change their fate into the skin surface corneocytes or sebocytes that secrete sebum upon their activation. Those mice show the faster hair loss and smaller hair follicles along with depletion of HFSCs. Even with HFD feeding in four consecutive days, HFSCs shows increased oxidative stress and the signs of epidermal differentiation,” Morinaga added.

“The gene expression in HFSCs from the high-fat-fed mice indicated the activation of inflammatory cytokine signalling within HFSCs. The inflammatory signals in HFSCs strikingly repress Sonic hedgehog signalling that plays a crucial role in hair follicle regeneration in HFSCs,” described Emi K. Nishimura, a senior author.

The researchers confirmed the activation of the Sonic hedgehog signalling pathway in this process can rescue the depletion of HFSCs.

“This could prevent the hair loss brought on by the high-fat diet,” said Nishimura.

This study has provided interesting new insights into the specific cellular fate changes and tissue dysfunction that can occur following a high-fat diet or genetically induced obesity and may open the door for future prevention and treatment of hair thinning as well as for the understanding of obesity-related diseases. 

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Try these simple home remedies for glowing skin | Health News


New Delhi: Concept of self-care has become very common in recent years, which also includes taking care of one’s skin and body. Various brands advertise expensive skin care products for a healthy and glowing skin. However, you don’t have to burn a hole in your pocket to look after your skin. Try these simple home remedies, to get a glowing and radiating skin.


Turmeric or Haldi is rich in anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidants present in turmeric slow downs cell damage and help in getting rid of puffiness.

How to use turmeric: Mix a teaspoon of turmeric with 2 teaspoons of gram flour and a little bit of milk till it becomes a thick paste. Apply it on your face and neck and remove it when it dries up.

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Honey contains proteins, amino acids, vitamins, enzymes, minerals, and boasts of antimicrobial properties that are really good for your skin. Honey also has great moisturizing properties. 

How to use honey: Take one teaspoon baking powder, one teaspoon lemon juice and one teaspoon honey and mix it well. Apply it well on your face and wash it in fifteen minutes.

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Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is a simple ingredient that can do wonders for your skin. It is rich in vitamins and antioxidants and has moisturizing properties. 

How to use Aloe Vera: You can directly apply aloe vera juice on your face and can also make a mask by adding lemon juice and honey in aloe vera gel and leave it on your skin for 20 minutes.

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Yoghurt has lactic acid which is beneficial for your skin. It helps in diminishing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines by tightening and shrinking pores.

How to use yoghurt: Take 2 tablespoon of yoghurt, 1 teaspoon of honey and and a pinch of turmeric mix it well and apply the paste on your face for 15 minutes.

Hope these simple tips help you get the flawless skin that you have always been dreaming of.

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World Heart Day: Major weight loss may reverse heart disease risks linked to obesity, says study | Health News


Washington: According to a new study, major weight loss may reverse most of the cardiovascular risks associated with obesity. The cross-sectional study of the US adult population was presented at the Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), which is being held online this year from September 27 to October 1.

The findings indicate that the risk of high blood pressure and dyslipidemia (unhealthy levels of cholesterol or other fats in the blood) were similar in Americans who used to have obesity (but were now a healthy weight) and those who had always maintained a healthy weight.

However, although the risk of current type 2 diabetes lessened with weight loss, it remained elevated in people who formerly had obesity compared to those who had never had obesity. More than 40 percent of adult Americans have obesity (BMI of more than 30kg/m2) and close to one in 10 is classed as having severe obesity.

Bodyweight is directly associated with almost all cardiovascular risk factors. As BMI increases, so do the blood pressure, low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or bad cholesterol), other abnormal blood fats, blood sugar, and inflammation. These changes increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, and death from cardiovascular disease.

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However, little is known about whether the effects of obesity persist in those who subsequently achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

To find out more, researchers analysed cardiovascular risk factors in 20,271-non-elderly US adults (aged 20-69 years), comparing those who used to have obesity but had been a healthy weight for at least the past year (326) to both those who were always a healthy weight (6,235) and those who currently had obesity (13,710).

They used data from a series of cross-sections, collected biennially from the 1999-2013 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES; a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to compare the prevalence of high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, and type 2 diabetes between the groups.

Adults who previously had obesity were on average older than those who never, or currently had obesity, and more likely to smoke cigarettes (36 percent vs 24 percent vs 19 percent).

After adjusting for age, gender, smoking and ethnicity, researchers found that the risk of high blood pressure and dyslipidemia were similar in those who used to have obesity and those who had always maintained a healthy weight.

Compared to those who were always healthy weight, people who used to have obesity had three-fold higher odds of diabetes than those who never had obesity; whilst people with current obesity were seven times as likely to experience diabetes. Those who currently had obesity were also at three times greater odds of current high blood pressure and dyslipidemia.

“The key take away of this study is that weight loss is hard, but important, for cardiovascular health,” said lead author Professor Maia Smith from St George`s University in Grenada.

“First of all, it`s no surprise that losing weight and keeping it off is hard. Almost everyone in our original sample who had ever had obesity, stayed that way. But don`t despair: if you do manage to lose weight, it can not only prevent but reverse significant health problems. The best time to get healthy is 20 years ago; the second best time is now,” added Smith.

The authors acknowledged that their findings show observational associations rather than cause and effect, and they cannot rule out the possibility that other unmeasured factors (including socioeconomic status) or missing data (eg, dietary habits, physical activity behaviours) may have affected the results. Finally, the study relied on self-reports of disease diagnosis and medication, as well as the highest-ever body weight, which might not be accurate.

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World Heart Day: AstraZeneca to use new vaccine technology to treat cancer, heart disease | Health News


London: UK drugmaker AstraZeneca has partnered with scientists at Imperial College London to develop a new vaccine technology to treat cancer, heart conditions and other non-infectious diseases and illnesses.

The technology was originally intended for targeting COVID-19 and works by delivering genetic material called self-amplifying RNA to human cells. The cells are then trained to recognise and respond to infection, The Independent reported.

Imperial scientists had aimed to use the technology to design a COVID-19 jab. However, it never progressed further than stage two clinical testing.

“We have clinical data that is good for the technology but it needs to be improved on,” Professor Robin Shattock, an immunologist at Imperial, was quoted as saying.

“AstraZeneca wants to take our approach and advance it. They see the potential of the platform.”

Besides creating a protective layer of antibodies and T-cells against the spike protein structure found on the surface of SARS-CoV-2, the unique platform uses self-amplifying RNA to also make copies of itself once injected into humans, generating more of the original message.

The team hopes the same technique can be used to teach the body to identify other foreign threats or internal malfunctions, such as cancer, and then neutralize them via trained immunological cells.

Shattock said his team, alongside experts at AstraZeneca, would be working to apply the self-amplifying RNA to a range of disease areas.

He said there were no plans for human trials at this stage, with the immediate focus on first optimising the vaccine platform in the lab and determining whether it will be successful in treating the likes of cancer or heart disease.

The agreement with AstraZeneca will support the Imperial team with research and development funding for up to 26 different drug targets, the report said.

“We have all seen how technologies based around RNA have been fundamental to preventing ongoing severe disease and death in major global pandemics,” said Prof Shattock. “The prospect of further therapeutic applications adds to this technology’s great potential.”

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