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Hong Kong scientists say anti-microbe drug successful against coronavirus

An affordable anti-microbial drug used to treat stomach ulcers and bacterial infections has shown promise in combatting the coronavirus in animals, scientists in Hong Kong announced Monday.

Researchers set out to explore whether metallodrugs — compounds containing metal that are more commonly used against bacteria — might also have anti-viral properties that could fight the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

Using Syrian hamsters as tests subjects, they found that one of the drugs, ranitidine bismuth citrate (RBC), was “a potent anti-SARS-CoV-2 agent”.

“RBC is able to lower the viral load in the lung of the infected hamster by tenfold,” Hong Kong University researcher Runming Wang told reporters on Monday as the team presented their study.

“Our findings demonstrate that RBC is a potential anti-viral agent for Covid-19.”

The coronavirus has killed more than a million people since it first emerged in China last December and then spread across the globe.

As scientists scramble to find a vaccine, they have also been scouring readily available drugs that might alleviate symptoms caused by the Covid-19 disease or help the body fight infection.

Remdesivir, a broad-spectrum antiviral drug, and dexamethasone, a type of corticosteroid, have both been identified as having some success against the virus. Both were used by doctors to treat US President Donald Trump after he contracted Covid-19.

But they have drawbacks.

Remdesivir is expensive and there is a global shortage while dexamethasone has immunosuppression effects that are risky for all but the most ill patients. Other drug cocktails have shown liver damage can be a risk.

The Hong Kong scientists said RBC was a commonly available drug used against stomach ulcers with a safe and comprehensive pharmacological profile.

“It’s been used for decades so it’s pretty safe,” Wang said.

They added that their research, which has been published in the journal Nature Microbiology, suggested other metallodrugs might also have success against the virus and should be further explored.

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Successful heart operation for Norway’s aging monarch

FILE - In this Saturday, May 4, 2019 file photo, King Harald V of Norway and his wife Sonja leave the Notre Dame cathedral after attending at the funeral of the Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, in Luxembourg. Norway's 83-year-old King Harald V was admitted to the main hospital in Oslo Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020 to undergo an operation to replace a heart valve, the palace said. The surgery will not be an open heart operation, the palace said. The king will be awake, and the operation will be performed via the groin with local anesthesia.
FILE – In this Saturday, May 4, 2019 file photo, King Harald V of Norway and his wife Sonja leave the Notre Dame cathedral after attending at the funeral of the Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, in Luxembourg. Norway’s 83-year-old King Harald V was admitted to the main hospital in Oslo Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020 to undergo an operation to replace a heart valve, the palace said. The surgery will not be an open heart operation, the palace said. The king will be awake, and the operation will be performed via the groin with local anesthesia.Francisco Seco/AP

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Norway’s 83-year-old King Harald V on Friday underwent an operation to replace a heart valve at the main hospital in Oslo. The palace said it was successful and his condition was described as good, the palace said.

Following the surgery at Rikshospitalet’s Cardiovascular and Lung Clinic, the monarch was transferred to an intensive care unit for further observation, the king’s doctor, Bjoern Bendz, said in a palace statement,

Bendz said that the intervention was necessary to improve the king’s breathing, and added that this kind of operation is regularly performed.


Last month, the king was hospitalized with breathing difficulties. Doctors ruled out COVID-19.

After Friday’s surgery, the palace said he will be on sick leave through October. His son and heir to the throne, Crown Prince Haakon, has stepped in and taken over his father’s duties.

The palace said the operation was not an open heart surgery and that the king was awake during the the operation that was performed via the groin with local anesthesia.

In 2005, the king’s aortic valve was replaced by an artificial heart valve. Such valves have a lifespan of between 10 and 15 years, the royal household had said.

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