A recent stem cell study has shown that SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus, can infect heart cells via the same receptor present in the lungs. This may be responsible for the cardiac complications associated with COVID-19.Experts initially thought that COVID-19 was a respiratory disease, with symptoms including cough, shortness of breath, and pneumonia. However, more recent evidence into COVID-19 shows that the disease can also cause neurological and cardiac symptoms.Physicians have reported changes to the circulatory system in people with COVID-19, sometimes leading to blood clots, as well as cardiac complications, such as changes to the heart rhythm, damage to heart tissue, and heart attacks.Although there is widespread agreement that COVID-19 is a risk to the heart, whether these symptoms are due to the virus directly or a consequence of other disease processes, such as inflammation, has been unclear.Stay informed with live updates on the current COVID-19 outbreak and visit our coronavirus hub for more advice on prevention and treatment.In a new study appearing in the journal Cell Reports Medicine, scientists have helped resolve this mystery by showing that SARS-CoV-2 can infect heart cells and change their function. Their findings, from experiments in human stem cells, suggest that the cardiac symptoms of COVID-19 may be the direct result of the infection of heart tissue.The scientists used a type of stem cell called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to generate heart cells. Scientists can create iPSCs from a person’s skin cells and then reprogram them to become any cell type in the body. They provide a useful tool for research into human disease and a way to test new treatments.In this study, the team programmed the iPSCs to become heart cells and later incubated them with SARS-CoV-2. Using microscopes and genetic sequencing techniques, the researchers found that SARS-CoV-2 could directly infect the heart cells.They also showed that the virus can rapidly divide inside heart cells, which caused changes to the heart’s ability to beat after a period of under 3 days.“We not only uncovered that these stem cell-derived heart cells are susceptible to infection by [the] novel coronavirus, but that the virus can also quickly divide within the heart muscle cells,” explains first study author Dr. Arun Sharma, a research fellow at the Regenerative Medicine Institute of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA.Additional experiments focused on the different genes expressed by heart cells before and after the virus infected them. These studies showed activation of the innate immune response and antiviral clearance pathways to help fight the virus.However, how does the virus get into the heart in the first place? The researchers suggest that one way in which it gains access may be by using angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). This is the same receptor the virus uses to infect cells in the lungs. Importantly, studies have shown that treatment with an ACE2 antibody can help stop SARS-CoV-2 from replicating and save cells in the heart.“By blocking the ACE2 protein with an antibody, the virus is not as easily able to bind to the ACE2 protein, and thus cannot easily enter the cell. This not only helps us understand the mechanisms of how this virus functions, but also suggests therapeutic approaches that could be used as a potential treatment for SARS-CoV-2 infection.”– Dr. Arun SharmaThe researchers suggest that scientists could use stem cell-derived heart cells to screen new drugs and find compounds able to stop the infection of heart cells.“This key experimental system could be useful to understand the differences in disease processes of related coronaviral pathogens SARS and MERS,” adds study author Dr. Vaithilingaraja Arumugaswami, an associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.There are some limitations to this approach, however. These include the fact that stem cell-derived heart cells are not exactly the same as the real thing.The researchers also studied the cells in a dish, an isolated system lacking the immune interactions that would occur in the human body.Nevertheless, the experiments clearly showed that the cells became infected with SARS-CoV-2, which is in line with some clinical data showing the virus in the hearts of people who died from COVID-19.For live updates on the latest developments regarding the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, click here.
Memorial for ‘Fallen 7′ Jarheads Motorcycle Club bikers killed in 2019 crash unveiled
Two years after seven motorcyclists died in a collision with a pickup truck, a granite monument honors their memory in New Hampshire. The Jarheads Motorcycle Club, made up of U.S. Marine Corps veterans and their spouses, unveiled the memorial near the crash site on Route 2 in Randolph, New Hampshire, on Saturday. The victims of…
Two years after seven motorcyclists died in a collision with a pickup truck, a granite monument honors their memory in New Hampshire. The Jarheads Motorcycle Club, made up of U.S. Marine Corps veterans and their spouses, unveiled the memorial near the crash site on Route 2 in Randolph, New Hampshire, on Saturday. The victims of the June 21, 2019, crash were members of the club and were from New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 25, of West Springfield, Massachusetts, faces multiple counts of negligent homicide, manslaughter, driving under the influence and reckless conduct in the crash. He’s been in jail since then and has pleaded not guilty. He faces trial later in 2021. Two years ago, seven people lost their lives in what was described as one of the worst crashes in New Hampshire’s history. Today we take take a moment, reflect and honor the seven lives that were lost. ♥ pic.twitter.com/Hlh3Pulp9S— WMUR TV (@WMUR9) June 21, 2021 In addition to their names and reference to the group as “The Fallen Seven,” the monument has the U.S. Marine Corps and Jarheads logos, along with “Never Forget.” Gov. Chris Sununu tweeted Monday, “we pause today to pay our respects to those lost too soon, their families, the survivors, and to the first responders. We will never forget.” The seven victims were: Michael Ferazzi, 62, of Contoocook, New Hampshire; Albert Mazza Jr., 59, of Lee, New Hampshire; Daniel Pereira, 58, of Riverside, Rhode Island; Jo-Ann and Edward Corr, both 58, of Lakeville, Massachusetts; Desma Oakes, 42, of Concord, New Hampshire; and Aaron Perry, 45, of Farmington, New Hampshire.
Guard soldiers may lose training if not reimbursed for Capitol mission
The National Guard could cut training as soon as July unless Congress passes emergency legislation reimbursing the cost of the Capitol security mission, Army leadership told a Senate Appropriations Committee subpanel Tuesday morning. The four-month response to the Jan. 6 riots reportedly cost more than $500 million, depleting the Guard’s operational and training funds. “Without…
The National Guard could cut training as soon as July unless Congress passes emergency legislation reimbursing the cost of the Capitol security mission, Army leadership told a Senate Appropriations Committee subpanel Tuesday morning. The four-month response to the Jan. 6 riots reportedly cost more than $500 million, depleting the Guard’s operational and training funds. “Without these resources [reimbursed], the Guard…will find themselves with training issues,” warned Army Secretary Christine Wormuth. She indicated that the force has already postponed some training and could begin cancelling training events as soon as July, due to concerns over violating federal law that bars spending in excess of the allotted budget. Wormuth’s concerns echoed those of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who told senators Thursday that a reimbursement failure will impact the Guard’s ability “in the near term to be able to train and adequately prepare.” The National Guard Association of the United States also sounded the alarm on the topic last week, citing a National Guard Bureau whitepaper that highlighted the need for reimbursement. If an Aug. 1 funding deadline passes without Congress authorizing reimbursement, annual trainings, drills and individual schools will be cancelled, the NGAUS release stated. 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Although the House already passed a Capitol security bill that includes $521 million in reimbursement for the National Guard, it also included $200 million to establish a permanent Guard quick reaction force. Republican lawmakers and NGAUS officials have repeatedly spoken against such a mission. Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville seemed to push back against the idea, too, when a lawmaker asked if a permanent military security task force was “appropriate.” “My best military advice,” he said, “is law enforcement should be conducted by law enforcement agencies, and the military should be the last resort when it comes to loss of law enforcement.” McConville and Wormuth had little to say, though, about the proposed end strength and top line cuts in President Joe Biden’s budget request for the Army. Instead, the two leaders emphasized to lawmakers that the service’s key modernization priorities remained funded despite “tough decisions.” The chief of staff expressed concern in April that the Army already had too few troops to meet its requirements. That was before the budget request. “Success can only be assured through continued transformation,” said Wormuth. “The Army has already made — and will continue to make — tough decisions to ensure the best use of resources to adapt to and stay ahead of the capabilities of our adversaries.”
FAA and Air Force sign agreement on commercial launches from Space Force bases
WASHINGTON — The Deptment of the Air Force signed an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration designed to eliminate red tape affecting commercial rocket launches at U.S. Space Force ranges, the agencies announced June 21.The two parties said the memorandum finished June 15 removes duplicative processes and approvals for commercial space activities originating from or…
WASHINGTON — The Deptment of the Air Force signed an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration designed to eliminate red tape affecting commercial rocket launches at U.S. Space Force ranges, the agencies announced June 21.The two parties said the memorandum finished June 15 removes duplicative processes and approvals for commercial space activities originating from or returning to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Essentially, the agreement states that the FAA will accept Department of the Air Force safety rules and processes as long as they satisfy FAA regulations. In return, the Air Force will accept FAA licensing decisions for commercial launches and not impose its own requirements for the flight and reentry parts of a launch, unless they impact national security space activities.“Assured access to space is vital to our national security,” said acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth in a joint press release with FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “The launch licensing standards provided in the agreement will support a rapidly expanding commercial launch sector and strengthen our space industrial base, bolstering our economy and enhancing our security as a nation.”“Building a streamlined regulatory approach for commercial space activities at these federal launch sites is the right thing to do for public safety and U.S. competitiveness,” added Dickson. “This agreement will help the burgeoning U.S. commercial space industry grow even faster and continue to lead the world in safety and innovation.”The agreement will help cooperation between the two government bodies in responding to commercial requests for relief from safety regulations, conducting environmental reviews, and publishing launch activity materials. The six-page document replaces the last memorandum of agreement between the two organizations, signed in 2014.Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Vandenberg Space Force Base each have four FAA-licensed commercial launch providers operating on-site. Together, the two ranges supported 24 of the 39 commercial space launches licensed by the FAA in 2020.The announcement comes in the middle of the Space Force’s reorganization of its entire launch enterprise in anticipation of a growing launch cadence at the ranges involved. Earlier this year, the Space Force redesignated the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida as space launch deltas, which operators say flatten communications and eliminate an unnecessary echelon of command.On a broader scale, the Space Force is planning to unify its launch enterprise — launch operations, range operations and acquisitions — under a single office within its new field command: Space Systems Command. Under that construct, the SSC deputy commander will oversee all launch activities and will be known as the Assured Access to Space leader within the force. Space Systems Command is expected to replace the Space and Missile Systems Center as the Space Force’s primary acquisitions organization later this summer, after Congress approves a general to lead the new field command.Nathan Strout covers space, unmanned and intelligence systems for C4ISRNET.