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Journal: Medical hypotheses


Currently, drug repurposing is an alternative to novel drug development for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. The antimalarial drug chloroquine (CQ) and its metabolite hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) are currently being tested in several clinical studies as potential candidates to limit SARS-CoV-2-mediated morbidity and mortality. CQ and HCQ (CQ/HCQ) inhibit pH-dependent steps of SARS-CoV-2 replication by increasing pH in intracellular vesicles and interfere with virus particle delivery into host cells. Besides direct antiviral effects, CQ/HCQ specifically target extracellular zinc to intracellular lysosomes where it interferes with RNA-dependent RNA polymerase activity and coronavirus replication. As zinc deficiency frequently occurs in elderly patients and in those with cardiovascular disease, chronic pulmonary disease, or diabetes, we hypothesize that CQ/HCQ plus zinc supplementation may be more effective in reducing COVID-19 morbidity and mortality than CQ or HCQ in monotherapy. Therefore, CQ/HCQ in combination with zinc should be considered as additional study arm for COVID-19 clinical trials.


The preparation and consumption of bone broth is being increasingly recommended to patients, for example as part of the gut and psychology syndrome (GAPS) diet for autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression and schizophrenia, and as part of the paleolithic diet. However, bones are known to sequester the heavy metal lead, contamination with which is widespread throughout the modern environment. Such sequestered lead can then be mobilised from the bones. We therefore hypothesised that bone broth might carry a risk of being contaminated with lead. A small, blinded, controlled study of lead concentrations in three different types of organic chicken broth showed that such broths do indeed contain several times the lead concentration of the water with which the broth is made. In particular, broth made from skin and cartilage taken off the bone once the chicken had been cooked with the bones in situ, and chicken-bone broth, were both found to have markedly high lead concentrations, of 9.5 and 7.01μgL(-1), respectively (compared with a control value for tap water treated in the same way of 0.89μgL(-1)). In view of the dangers of lead consumption to the human body, we recommend that doctors and nutritionists take the risk of lead contamination into consideration when advising patients about bone broth diets.

Concepts: Bone, Educational psychology, Human body, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Hyperactivity, Heavy metal music, Heavy metal, Broth


Straying away from a sedentary lifestyle is essential, especially in these troubled times of a global pandemic to reverse the ill effects associated with the health risks as mentioned earlier. In the view of anticipated effects on immune system and prevention against influenza and Covid-19, globally moderate to vigorous exercises are advocated wearing protective equipment such as facemasks. Though WHO supports facemasks only for Covid-19 patients, healthy “social exercisers” too exercise strenuously with customized facemasks or N95 which hypothesized to pose more significant health risks and tax various physiological systems especially pulmonary, circulatory and immune systems. Exercising with facemasks may reduce available Oxygen and increase air trapping preventing substantial carbon dioxide exchange. The hypercapnic hypoxia may potentially increase acidic environment, cardiac overload, anaerobic metabolism and renal overload, which may substantially aggravate the underlying pathology of established chronic diseases. Further contrary to the earlier thought, no evidence exists to claim the facemasks during exercise offer additional protection from the droplet transfer of the virus. Hence, we recommend social distancing is better than facemasks during exercise and optimal utilization rather than exploitation of facemasks during exercise.


The world is facing a pandemic of unseen proportions caused by a corona virus named SARS-CoV-2 with unprecedent worldwide measures being taken to tackle its contagion. Person-to-person transmission is accepted but WHO only considers aerosol transmission when procedures or support treatments that produce aerosol are performed. Transmission mechanisms are not fully understood and there is evidence for an airborne route to be considered, as the virus remains viable in aerosols for at least 3 h and that mask usage was the best intervention to prevent infection. Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Systems (HVAC) are used as a primary infection disease control measure. However, if not correctly used, they may contribute to the transmission/spreading of airborne diseases as proposed in the past for SARS. The authors believe that airborne transmission is possible and that HVAC systems when not adequately used may contribute to the transmission of the virus, as suggested by descriptions from Japan, Germany, and the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship. Previous SARS outbreaks reported at Amoy Gardens, Emergency Rooms and Hotels, also suggested an airborne transmission. Further studies are warranted to confirm our hypotheses but the assumption of such way of transmission would cause a major shift in measures recommended to prevent infection such as the disseminated use of masks and structural changes to hospital and other facilities with HVAC systems.


There are conflicting reports about the efficacy of electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) as nicotine delivery devices and smoking cessation products. In addition, smokers' responses to some nicotine dependence questions often change as they transition to exclusive e-cig use. Nicotyrine may explain these observations. Nicotyrine forms by the gradual oxidation of nicotine in e-liquids exposed to air. E-cigs aerosolize nicotyrine along with nicotine. Nicotyrine inhibits the cytochrome P450 2A family of enzymes (CYP2A) in airways and liver. These enzymes metabolize nicotine to cotinine, and then cotinine to trans 3-hydroxycotinine. In humans, nicotine is metabolized primarily by hepatic CYP2A6. We propose that e-cig users (vapers) achieve measurable serum nicotine levels when they inhale nicotine and nicotyrine together, because nicotyrine reversibly inhibits nicotine metabolism by CYP2A13 in airways. Consuming nicotyrine by any route should irreversibly inhibit hepatic CYP2A6. When CYP2A6 is substantially inhibited, nicotine clearance is delayed and nicotine withdrawal symptoms are attenuated. Small, relatively infrequent nicotine doses can then sustain satisfying nicotine levels. This theory has numerous implications for e-cig research and tobacco control. Behavioral and pharmacokinetic e-cig studies should be interpreted with attention to likely levels of nicotyrine delivery: e-cig studies may need to routinely measure nicotyrine exposure, assess CYP2A6 activity, confirm nicotine delivery, or deliberately compare unoxidized and oxidized e-liquids. The risks of nicotyrine exposure include impaired clearance of all CYP2A substrates and any effects of the metabolic products of nicotyrine. CYP2A inhibitors like nicotyrine may be useful for future smoking cessation therapy.

Concepts: Metabolism, Smoking, Tobacco, Cigarette, Nicotine, Smoking cessation, Cytochrome P450, Electronic cigarette


Drug poisoning deaths have more than doubled in the United States since 2000 with fentanyl and fentanyl analogues primarily responsible for the jump in opioid deaths. Robust data indicate a convincing correlation between the exposure of the fetus to other labor medications (morphine, pethidine hydrochloride, barbiturates, phenobarbitone, meperidine, and secobarbital) and the later addiction of young adults to the same category of drug. We present the hypothesis that this effect is also true of the opioid, fentanyl: there is a causal relationship between the increased popularity of fentanyl as a labor anesthetic in the United States since the 1980’s and the current epidemic of fentanyl abuse.


Current formulations and dose regimens of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) put patients at risk of harm. An analysis of clinical trials registered on revealed that this may continue as many studies combine HCQ with agents that prolong the QT interval. Further, almost all of the trials registered do not consider dosage adjustment in the elderly, a patient population most likely to require HCQ treatment. Here we describe an inhaled formulation of HCQ which has passed safety studies in clinical trials for the treatment of asthma and discuss how this approach may reduce side-effects and improve efficacy. As this simple formulation progressed to phase II studies, safety data can be used to immediately enable phase II trials in COVID-19.


The novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) is a contagious acute respiratory infectious disease whose causative agent has been demonstrated to be a novel virus of the coronavirus family, SARSCoV-2. A recent PRE-print study has showed a heme attack on the 1-beta chain of hemoglobin by COVID19. Beta-thalassemia results of a default in the hemoglobin beta-chain synthesis. 1,5% global population are heterozygotes for this disease. In this study, by a multiple linear regression, we have analyzed the evolution of COVID-19 infection in three Italian regions (Puglia, Sardinia, Sicilia) with different beta-thalassemic prevalences, in order to search a link. The results have showed that betathalassemic heterozygote population prevalence is correlated to immunity against COVID-19, by a regression. This paper is only for academic discussion, the hypotheses and conclusions needs to be confirmed by further research.


The hierarchical model of stem cell genesis is based on the idea that the number of cell divisions between the zygote and fully differentiated epithelial cells is kept close to the minimum, which is log to the base 2 of the total number of cells produced in a human lifetime. The model assumes the orderly progression of stem cell divisions requires precise control at every stage in development. If the orderly progression is maintained then cancer will be rare. A prediction of the model is that if the orderly progression of the stem cell hierarchy is disturbed by trauma, ulceration or inflammation then cancer will occur.


The hypothesis proposed is that functional disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome and anorexia nervosa are caused by auto-antibodies to neuronal proteins induced by molecular mimicry with microbial antigens. The age incidence of these conditions, the marked female excess, increase with economic and technological advance, precipitation by infection, and the paucity of histological changes are all consistent with the hypothesis. It can be tested directly using human sera to search for cross reaction with brain proteins in model systems such as Drosophila melanogaster. The conditions might be amenable to treatment using pooled immunoglobulin. Identification and elimination from the microbial flora of the bacteria that express the cross reacting antigens should be possible.

Concepts: Immune system, Bacteria, Water, Model organism, Irritable bowel syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Drosophila melanogaster, Chronic fatigue syndrome