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Authorities in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on Thursday temporarily shut the country’s iconic tourist spot Taj Mahal following a bomb scare, local media reports said.

Tourists were asked to leave the premises following the scare. “Over 1,000 tourists at the Taj Mahal were asked to vacate the premises on Thursday after authorities received a bomb threat from an unidentified caller,” a local media report said. The bomb scare triggered chaos at the destination in Agra and authorities have rushed police teams to the spot.The ivory-white marble mausoleum, built in 1653 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, is the biggest draw for tourists in India.

Researchers announce breakthrough in understanding COVID-19-related heart disease

SYDNEY, March 4 (Xinhua) — A group of Australian researchers have delved into the reasons why many COVID-19 patients also experience heart trauma, and revealed new avenues for effective treatment.

Recent evidence suggests roughly a quarter of patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19 sustained some form of cardiovascular injury, and up to two-thirds experienced inflammation in the heart. A study released Thursday by Australia’s QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute revealed some of the ways COVID-19 causes this damage, and identified a class of drugs that could potentially protect against or reverse cardiac trauma.

“We thought understanding the biological basis of the heart damage was critical for identifying drugs with a much higher chance of success,” Head of QIMR Berghofer’s Cardiac Bioengineering Research Group, Associate Professor James Hudson said. Results showed that in severe cases of COVID-19, the immune system overreacts, releasing inflammatory molecules called cytokines into the bloodstream. Dubbed a “cytokine storm,” the reaction can damage a number of organs, including the heart.

On the basis of the findings, Canadian company Resverlogix has expanded a clinical trial of the drug, apabetalone in COVID-19 patients, to examine if it can treat heart damage. To conduct the study, the team at QIMR Berghofer used thousands of lab-grown, miniature human heart organoids which they exposed to the blood of COVID-19 patients. “We exposed the bioengineered, stem-cell-derived heart tissue to COVID-19 patient blood and found it caused dysfunction even when the virus didn’t infect the tissue,” Hudson explained.”We then used our mini heart organoids to screen several existing drugs that inhibit this protein and found they can prevent and reverse the damage.”

One of the drugs that proved effective at blocking the inflammatory response was apabetalone, which due to being a focus of clinical trials for cardiovascular disease for more than five years, could be available to treat COVID-19 patients sooner.The research was supported by funding from the Queensland state government, and fast-tracked by the Australian federal government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) which helps identify potential new treatments for COVID-19. “Professor Hudson’s cardiac organoid research has been world leading, and provides a way to quickly test potential new drugs,” Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.

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Xinhua News Agency, Xinhuanet is an important central news service-oriented website, an important information organ of the central government, and an important platform for building up China's online international communication capacity. Established on November 7, 1997, as an online news provider of the Xinhua News Agency, it was officially named Xinhuanet on March 10, 2000 and began around-the-clock news release with leading online public opinion at home and setting a good image of China abroad as its main task.


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