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B.C. Clinical Trial Showing Promising Signs For Type 1 Diabetes Cure

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Two participants in a B.C.-led clinical trial into a cure for Type 1 diabetes no longer need to take insulin, in a first for the centuries-old research field.

Headed by BC Diabetes founder Dr. Tom Elliott, the trial is testing the viability of using a drug typically used to treat Crohn’s disease for tackling Type 1 diabetes in its early stages instead.

Type 1 diabetes is a genetic condition most often diagnosed in people under age 35 that causes a person’s immune system to destroy their insulin-producing cells. The Crohn’s disease drug ustekinumab, more commonly known by its brand name Stelara, is showing serious promise in stopping, and even reversing, that destruction.

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Since their clinical trial began in 2021, Elliott said 20 Canadians have volunteered to take part and four have completed the 18-month study. Of them, two are no longer taking insulin.

It isn’t unheard of for people with Type 1 diabetes to suddenly be able to produce enough of their own insulin for a month or two at a time – known as a “diabetes honeymoon” – but it’s completely unprecedented for that to last 18 months, Elliott said. The difference, of course, is the introduction of Stelara.

“…early evidence from the study suggests that this immune therapy drug regenerates the insulin secreting cells that have been damaged by the immune system,” Elliott said in a news release.

tWhat’s crucial is introducing the drug within the first 100 days of a person’s diagnosis. Elliott said an average person is born with about 10 billion insulin-producing cells, but by the time someone with Type 1 diabetes hits 100 days they only have about two billion left. This appears to leave just enough room for the Stelara to do its work.

With small but promising results so far, Elliott and partner researchers at the Leadership Sinai Centre for Diabetes in Toronto and the University of British Columbia are looking for about 50 more volunteer participants. Of them, two-thirds will receive Stelara, while one-third will receive a placebo. Participants have to be aged 18 to 35 and within the first 100 days of their diagnosis. The trial is free, but it does require 11 trips to Vancouver or Toronto.

Elliott said once all 70 participants have completed the 18-month trial, he’ll have a much better understanding of just how effective using Stelara is. If a quarter or more of people are doing well, Elliott said it would be a strong signal to do another study and possibly start using Stelara to treat Type 1 diabetes routinely.

“It would be profound,” Elliott told Black Press Media. He said right now there are likely about 90 Canadians who would qualify for his study.

Anyone interested in the clinical trial can contact the study coordinator at minducil@bcdiabetes.ca.

 


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AIDS day walk in North Battleford aims to `banish that stigma' – Turtle Island News

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 By Julia Peterson

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

On World AIDS Day, advocates in the Battlefords gathered to raise awareness about how the virus affects people in their community, and how people can get help and treatment, if they need it.

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“HIV is completely preventable in today’s society, with all the advances in medication,” said Battle River Treaty 6 Health Centre’s HIV project coordinator, Cymric Leask. “But due to a lot of intersecting factors, especially due to COVID  in the past couple of years, our HIV numbers have skyrocketed.”

In 2021, more than 200 new cases of HIV were diagnosed in the province, even while testing, treatment and outreach were reduced during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saskatchewan has the highest rate of new HIV infections in Canada, and has had the highest annual rate in the country for more than a decade.

The proportion of new HIV cases in rural areas is rising, too.

 “Here up north, there are such large barriers to access to care,” said Leask. “We do have some great resources here in North Battleford  but it’s still very hard to access the proper care for HIV.”

 For example, getting started on HIV medication requires a visit with a communicable disease doctor, but there is no communicable disease doctor based in the Battlefords. Instead, that doctor visits the community only once every four months.

Another barrier Leask has found is that many people still have an outdated  understanding of what HIV is, who is at risk and how treatment works.

“Especially here in rural areas, it’s stigmatized as something that only affects gay or bisexual men, men who have sex with men,” Leask said.

Today in Saskatchewan, men and women are diagnosed with HIV at almost equal rates, and two thirds of new cases are passed through injection drug use.

Treatments are much easier to manage than they used to be; some only involve taking one pill a day.

But the enduring stigma around HIV makes it harder for people to find community and support.

“People don’t talk about it,” said Jackie Kennedy, executive director of the Battlefords Indian and Metis Friendship Centre. “I think they’re afraid to. A lot of people don’t disclose that information (about their HIV status) because they are afraid to be judged.”

As more people continue to be diagnosed with HIV in Saskatchewan every year, groups and organizations in the Battlefords are working hard to make it easier for people to get testing, treatment, information and harm reduction supplies.

“We want to banish that stigma of how it used to be,” said Leask. “It’s not like that anymore.”

  Julia Peterson is a  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with THE STARPHOENIX

The LJI program is federally funded.

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COVID-19 and flu mobile vaccination clinics coming to malls and community hubs in Toronto – Toronto.com

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For the second year in a row, Team Toronto’s Vax The Holidays campaign is bringing COVID-19 and flu vaccination clinics to Toronto malls and popular community hubs throughout the holiday season.

The campaign features mobile and pop-up vaccine clinics and is focused on making sure locations are easily accessed and in areas where large groups of people will be gathering in the coming weeks. Toronto Public Health (TPH) is encouraging people to receive the vaccinations to guard against serious illness at a time when hospital emergency departments are packed with people struggling with respiratory illness.

People five years of age and older attending a city-run clinic or a participating Team Toronto pharmacy can be vaccinated for the flu and COVID-19 in the same visit.

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More details on the mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Toronto and the select locations offering flu vaccines can be found on the city’s mobile vaccination webpage.

Eligible residents age five and older can choose from 30 mobile clinics set up in malls and community locations across the city to get their flu shot and bivalent COVID-19 booster. They are:

• Lawrence Allen Centre: 700 Lawrence Ave. W., Friday, Dec. 2 from 1 to 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 4 from noon to 5 p.m. (last day of the clinic is Sunday, Dec. 4).

• Scarborough Town Centre: 300 Borough Dr., Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

• Stock Yards Village: 1980 St. Clair Ave. W., Thursday to Friday, 1 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

• Yonge Sheppard Centre: 2 Sheppard Ave. E., Thursday to Friday, 1 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

• Yorkgate Mall: 1 York Gate Blvd., Monday, 2 to 8 p.m. and Saturday noon to 4 p.m. (only offering COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday).

• North York Sheridan Mall: 2202 Jane St., Unit 5, Wednesday, 5 to 8:30 p.m. (flu shot not available at this location)

• Rexdale Community Hub: 21 Panorama Ct., Monday, 2 to 8 p.m., and Tuesday, 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

• Broadlands Community Centre: 19 Castlegrove Blvd., Tuesday and Thursday, 4 to 8 p.m.

• Cecil Community Centre: 58 Cecil St., Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Cedarbrook Community Centre: 91 Eastpark Blvd., Sunday, Dec. 11 and 18, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Horner Avenue Senior Centre: 320 Horner Ave., only on Friday, Dec. 16, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• Humberwood Community Centre: 850 Humberwood Blvd., only on Sunday, Dec. 18, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

• Oriole Community Centre: 2975 Don Mills Rd. W., Thursday, 4 to 7:30 p.m.

• Parkway Forest Community Centre: 55 Forest Manor Rd., only on Wednesday, Dec. 7 and 21, 4 to 7 p.m.

• Port Union Community Centre: 5450 Lawrence Ave. E., Friday, Dec. 2, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre: 627 Queens Quay W., Saturday, Dec. 3 and 10, noon to 4 p.m. and Monday, Dec. 5, 12, and 19, 4 to 8 p.m.

• Fairbank Memorial Community Centre: 2213 Dufferin St., Tuesday, 1 to 6 p.m. (last day Tuesday, Dec. 13).

• Malvern Community Recreation Centre: 30 Sewells Rd., Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

• Agincourt Recreation Centre: 31 Glen Watford Dr., Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

• Thistletown Community Centre: 925 Albion Rd., Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m.

• Gibson House Museum: 5172 Yonge St., Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

• Scadding Court Community Centre: 707 Dundas St. W., Wednesday, 4 to 7 p.m., and Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2 to 5 p.m.

• Scarborough Museum: 1007 Brimley Rd., Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

• San Romanoway Apartments: 15 San Romanoway, Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 24 and 31, noon to 4 p.m.

• BGC St. Alban’s Club: 843 Palmerston Ave., Friday, 2 to 6 p.m.

• Stephen Leacock Community Recreation Centre: 2500 Birchmount Rd., Sunday, Dec. 11 and 18, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

• Toronto Public Library Weston Branch: 2 King St. (Weston Road and King Street), Monday, Dec. 12 and 19, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 5 and 26)

• Toronto Public Library Richview Branch: 1806 Islington Ave., Tuesday, Dec. 13, 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday, Dec. 9, 23 and 30 (closed Friday, Dec. 2 and 16)

• Toronto Public Library Goldhawk Branch: 295 Alton Towers Cir., Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

• Toronto Public Library Parkdale Branch: 1303 Queen St. W., Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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Got a cold? It could protect you from other viruses — but only for a bit – CBC.ca

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This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly analysis of health and medical science news emailed to subscribers. If you haven’t subscribed, you can do that by clicking here.


Infectious disease experts say having one virus like a common cold could keep others at bay, as each bug effectively takes turns over the fall and winter.

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, infections are stabilizing across the country and flu is picking up sharply, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. 

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Canadians are mingling and travelling freely again. The mixing of people with each other gives scientists a rare opportunity to watch how the different respiratory pathogens we carry interact after a pandemic.

Until now, most virus research has focused on just a single pathogen at a time, whether in an individual patient or a whole population.

Here’s a look at the early science into why we likely won’t see multiple viruses hitting adults at the same time — and who may be more vulnerable to a double- or triple-whammy.

Multiple viruses may not hit adults at the same time but kids could face a double-whammy or worse. Scientists are exploring how and when viruses interfere with one another. (BSIP/UIG/Getty)

Virus triggers immune defence

Though the idea of viruses interfering with one another has been discussed since the 1960s, the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic gave scientists some further clues about it.

Dr. Guy Boivin, a virologist and professor of pediatrics at Laval University in Quebec City, wrote a commentary earlier this year reviewing the evidence on viral interference — competition between respiratory viruses interfering or blocking each other’s spread.

“It was notable that the [H1N1 flu] pandemic virus emerged in France two to three months after its emergence in the other European countries,” Boivin said. “That was related to a rhinovirus outbreak at that time. This small epidemic of rhinoviruses delayed the pandemic H1N1 virus in France.”

Rhinovirus is a type of a common cold virus.

When it comes to waves of different respiratory infections like COVID, RSV and flu circulating in Canada, Boivin said he expects some overlap. But he also thinks it’s unlikely they will all peak at the same time, because catching one bug can offer short-term protection against other viruses.

WATCH | Renewed respiratory virus precautions: 

What would it take to get us to wear masks again? | About That

4 days ago

Duration 23:17

Health experts in Canada and the U.S. are recommending people start wearing masks again with a ‘perfect storm’ of respiratory diseases on the rise, a strain on our hospital systems and a shortage of medication. But is that enough to get us to wear masks again? Dr. Susy Hota joins About That with Andrew Chang to take us through it all.

Dr. Ellen Foxman, an immunologist at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., studies antiviral defences at her lab, including how viral interference happens.

“Having one virus activates antiviral defences in your body,” Foxman said. “That can protect against other viruses too, at least for a short span of time.”

Foxman said it’s possible that having one infection makes you less likely to get another at the same time. For instance, if human airway tissues are infected with rhinovirus and then the H1N1 flu is introduced a few days later, the influenza virus won’t grow.

“It was because the defences that the tissue turned on in response to the rhinovirus also protected against the flu,” Foxman said.

She’s currently looking at interference between the virus that causes COVID-19 and other viruses in human airway samples at her lab.

An exterior view of people walking by a hospital in France in 2009 during the H1N1 flu pandemic.
A view of the Bichat Hospital where the French Health ministry said a patient was treated for a confirmed case of H1N1 pandemic flu in May 2009. Scientists say another virus seemed to suppress H1N1 initially in France. (Benoit Tessier/Reuters)

Short-lived protection

Foxman said the lining of our airways take on an antiviral defensive state when they sense an invader.

The guard defence is one of several layers of protection in the immune system. One is called interferon: a family of proteins produced by the body’s immune system in response to an invading viral infection.

As the name implies, interferon interferes with or blocks the ability of a virus to accomplish its raison d’être of making copies of itself.

Instead, interferon summons immune cells to the site of the invasion so they can take up arms against the threat.

But interferon doesn’t stay turned on for long, cautioned Dr. Allison McGeer, an infectious diseases specialist at Sinai Health System in Toronto.

“It’s not an effect with most viruses and it’s not a big effect,” McGeer said.

Dr. Allison McGeer, an infectious diseases specialist at Sinai Health System in Toronto, says the effect of viral interference is small. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The opposite can also happen. Some people get double or co-infections — two or more bugs at the same time.

Why that’s the case isn’t well understood and the degree to which it happens is just starting to be explored. 

McGeer said co-infections happen “not infrequently” among kids admitted to the hospital.

Baby’s multiple infections at once

Emilie Doré’s six-week-old son, Diego, was one of them. “My mom instincts were telling me that it was a bad cold on a baby who is just too little, too young,” Doré recalled.

A baby with hospital tubes.
Baby Diego was hospitalized at Montreal Children’s Hospital for four days with multiple respiratory infections. (Submitted by Emilie Doré)

Doré was on the lookout for symptoms in the infant after her two-year-old daughter fell sick. First the baby had a little congestion and a cough followed by lethargy and fever.

“I would say the most upsetting and worrying time was when he had to be connected to oxygen because he was having difficulty breathing,” the Montreal mother said.

When he wasn’t getting better, Diego had a lumbar puncture or spinal tap procedure. The tests suggested he had RSV, rhinovirus and enterovirus, another common cold virus, as well as possibly meningitis.

He recovered after four days in hospital and is now eight weeks old.

A young baby wearing a T-shirt and cap.
Baby Diego has now recovered. (Submitted by Emilie Dore)

Virologists say at a population level, other factors, such as human behaviour of different age groups, population immunity, environmental conditions like temperature and humidity and what’s happened during the COVID-19 pandemic also influence the triple threat of viral spread.

Separate waves of each virus may still sicken individuals and increase demand on emergency departments and primary care services at a time they’re struggling with staffing shortages and backlogs.

Dr. Gerald Evans, chair of infectious diseases at Queen’s University and Kingston Health Sciences Centre, said when people in hospital are tested for respiratory infections now, three viruses can appear.

“We are starting to pick up a small signal that people can get infected with both flu and with COVID, and certainly in children we see flu and RSV popping up,” Evans said.

“So the impact of that coinfection we’re still going to have to figure out. We are seeing it. It’s small numbers.”

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