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Health Canada announces another step to accelerate access to health products for COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a global search for therapies to treat, diagnose, mitigate or prevent the infection. Before new therapies can be made available to Canadians, they must be shown to be safe and effective, and clinical trials are a critical part of that process. To date, Health Canada has approved 37 clinical trials for potential COVID-19 therapies and vaccines. To accelerate these efforts, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, has authorized the following change for a more flexible process for clinical trials related to COVID-19, without compromising the safety of participants or the reliability of trials’ findings: Allow a wider range of health professionals, such as nurse practitioners, to be involved in running clinical trials. Under current regulations, only physicians and dentists can conduct clinical trials for drugs; Allow a wider range of investigators, such as physicians, to be involved in running clinical trials for medical devices. Under current regulations, only manufacturers can conduct clinical trials for medical devices; Reduce the burden associated with labelling and record-keeping requirements for clinical trials involving drugs that are already marketed for other indications and are being studied to treat COVID-19; Enable multiple-stream clinical trials to continue even when one stream has been stopped; and Enable more clinical trials by allowing trials where direct interaction with the participant is not feasible, for example when participants who live in remote. News release May 27, 2020 - Ottawa , Ontario - Health Canada

Zinc is an effective treatment for coronavirus infection, blocks viral replication

RNA viruses, including poliovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, picornaviruses, influenza virus, and coronavirus can all be stopped at the cellular level by increasing the intracellular concentration of zinc. Medical researchers from the Molecular Virology Laboratory, Department of Medical Microbiology, Center of Infectious Diseases, Leiden University Medical Center, in the Netherlands explain that the replication of all these viruses can be stopped when zinc concentrations force a correction of proteolytic processing of viral polyproteins. Using electromobility shift assays (EMSA) in the presence and absence of Zn2+, the researchers measured the binding affinity of the viral RNA and measured a 3-4 fold reduction in RNA-dependent RNA polymerase binding in the presence of zinc. By using zinc ionophores like pyrithione, the researchers proved that increased intracellular zinc impairs the replication of RNA viruses, severely inhibiting the replication of equine arteritis virus (EAV) and SARS-coronavirus (SARS-CoV) in cells. The two viruses share a core enzyme needed for multi-protein replication that is easy to block using zinc. The researchers didn’t even need to rely on pyrithione to transport zinc across the plasma membrane because zinc could effectively inhibit RNA synthesizing activity in a direct manner. Because of this, the in vitro activity of both viruses polymerases could be blocked with ease. Moreover, zinc was found to specifically block the initiation step of RNA synthesis, inhibiting the elongation and template binding of SARS-CoV RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. The researchers also showed that the absence of zinc, through chelation of the mineral from cells, reverses its therapeutic effect, allowing viral replication to continue.

Minister of Health announces funding for projects to help Canadians stop tobacco use

Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of premature death and disease in Canada. Although progress has been made over the years to reduce tobacco use among Canadians, it continues to be a significant public health problem. We’re also seeing troubling trends of vaping among youth, which poses risks to the health of young Canadians, and can also lead to nicotine addiction. To mark World No Tobacco Day, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced nearly $4.8 million in funding for organizations across Canada to develop programs and services that will help stop tobacco use among Canadians, and reduce youth vaping. The Government of Canada knows the significant health harms associated with smoking and youth vaping, which is why we continue to implement Canada’s Tobacco Strategy. We’ve invested close to $330-million in this strategy, which aims to reduce tobacco use to less than 5% by 2035, to help Canadians quit smoking and to continue to protect young people and non-smokers from nicotine addiction. We know that quitting smoking and using tobacco is not easy, and those who want to quit don’t have to do it alone. We will continue working in partnership with organizations across the country to reduce vaping among youth and to keep all Canadians safe and healthy. (News Release 31 May 2020, Ottawa, Ontario, Health Canada)

Cardiovascular Health Benefits of Specific Vegetable Types

Adequate vegetable consumption is one of the cornerstones of a healthy diet. The recommendation to increase vegetable intake is part of most dietary guidelines. Despite widespread and long-running public health messages to increase vegetable intake, less than 1 in 10 adult manage to meet target advice. Identifying vegetables with the strongest health benefits and incorporating these into dietary recommendations may enhance public health initiatives around vegetable intake. The amount of vegetable intake recommended in dietary guidelines vary globally, but is usually around 5–6 servings/day (375–450 g/day). Increasing vegetable intake, with a focus on consuming leafy green and cruciferous vegetables provide the greatest cardiovascular health benefits. Incorporating such dietary changes along with other recommended lifestyle changes will optimize health benefits. Lifestyle changes include consuming a diet full of vegetable, fruits, and whole grains; including low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, non-tropical vegetable oils, and nuts; and limiting intake of saturated and trans fats, sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, and red meats. Other lifestyle changes include increasing physical activity, avoiding cigarette smoking, and intake of alcohol, and maintaining a healthy body weight by consuming appropriate energy requirements. (Cardiovascular Health Benefits of Specific Vegetable Types: A Narrative Review, MDPI Nutients, 10(5) , 595)