The Coastal Star

Health Notes: COVID-19 vaccine trial enrolling more volunteers

By Christine Davis 

COVID-19 vaccine development is in the works across the globe with one Phase 3 trial — the final step before U.S. government approval — in progress locally. Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc. — in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health — aims to enroll 30,000 adults in Phase 3 of its testing with volunteers from all over the country.

In West Palm Beach, at the Palm Beach Research Center, a clinical trial began July 31 and has already enrolled and vaccinated hundreds of volunteers. It is still enrolling, said David Scott, president and CEO of the research center.

The study will continue for two years. The first visit takes 3-4 hours, with other quicker visits at days 28, 57, 209, 395 and 759, plus or minus a couple of days, he said. Participants will be paid up to $1,190.

Scott describes the vaccine: “Moderna uses a biodegradable lipid nanoparticle, which allows it to more effectively be absorbed by the body than any current vaccine technology. It carries a messenger RNA, which creates a protein that looks like COVID-19’s outer shell.

“It causes the body’s immune system to create proteins that look like COVID-19 (with spikes), but they are empty — they don’t have COVID-19. Since it looks like COVID-19, the body will be prepared; in the future it can recognize COVID-19 and eliminate it.

“While the trial is ongoing, if the data shows it’s effective, Dr. Fauci is confident the FDA may do an interim analysis and begin to manufacture it this winter and distribute soon after,” Scott says.

Dr. Anthony Fauci is one of the government’s top advisers on the coronavirus pandemic.

This is a randomized, double-blind trial, which means that volunteers are randomly assigned to either receive the vaccine or a placebo, and neither the vaccinated person nor the researcher knows which was given to each person until the end of the trial.

To volunteer, go to https://palmbeachresearch.com/2020/03/02/covid-19-vaccine-study/ or call 561-689-0606.

Researchers at Brain Matters Research are looking for participants age 50 and older with no memory loss to take part in the Alzheimer Prevention Trials web study, an online study that detects if people experience memory loss over time and need early intervention.

Volunteers take no-cost tests online every three months to monitor memory changes. If changes are observed, volunteers may be invited to in-person evaluations to determine eligibility for additional Alzheimer’s studies. To learn more and enroll, visit www.APTWebstudy.org.

Four researchers from Florida Atlantic University received the National Science Foundation Early Career Awards in August. The awards support early-career faculty members who have the potential to lead advances and serve as academic role models.

The award winners are Waseem Asghar, Ph.D., associate professor; Behnaz Ghoraani, Ph.D., associate professor;  Feng-Hao Liu, Ph.D., assistant professor, all within the Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science; and Marianne E. Porter, Ph.D., assistant professor of biological sciences in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.
Asghar received $500,000 over five years to develop a low-cost disposable point-of-care platform to detect current and emerging infectious diseases.

Ghoraani, who is also a fellow in FAU’s Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems Engineering, was given $524,191 over five years to develop a cognitive screening tool for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease using wearables and a smartphone.

Liu got $500,000 over five years to develop new ways of coding to enhance cybersecurity.

Porter’s $625,943 over five years is for research to better understand how marine animals tune, or dynamically adjust their movements using their skin and skeletons.

In July, Boca Raton Regional Hospital received certification from DNV GL Healthcare as a comprehensive stroke center.

This signifies that the hospital’s Marcus Neuroscience Institute meets standards for providing care to all stroke patients, including endovascular embolization and surgical clipping of brain aneurysms, tPA administration and mechanical endovascular thrombectomy, a procedure used to remove a blood clot from the brain during an ischemic stroke.

JFK Medical Center received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award in July, recognizing the hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment.

Additionally, JFK Medical Center received the association’s Stroke Honor Roll Elite award, recognizing that the hospital meets quality measures developed to reduce the time between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment.

JFK was also recognized by Healthgrades with a Five-Star Recipient Award for Treatment in Stroke for three consecutive years, 2018-2020.

The Palm Beach Health Network’s Delray Medical Center also earned the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Stroke and Heart Quality Achievement Award.

The hospital achieved high performance marks in the category of heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for the state of Florida in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2020-2021 Best Hospitals rankings for adult clinical specialties.

Dr. Lloyd Zucker, who has more than two decades of practice in South County, was named medical director of neurosurgery for Delray Medical Center and Good Samaritan Medical Center.

An honor graduate of Johns Hopkins University, Zucker was invited as an undergraduate to do research at the National Institutes of Health.

A neurosurgical residency at the University of Connecticut-Hartford Hospital followed his medical training at Rutgers University/University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. His extended training was completed by a fellowship in complex spinal surgery at the University of South Florida/Tampa General Hospital.

FoundCare, a nonprofit health center, has expanded its women’s health services to include OB/GYN care, well-woman exams, preventive care and screenings, bone density testing, breast and cervical cancer screening, sexual health services, birth control, Pap smear and HPV testing, pregnancy services, and prenatal and postpartum care. 

With 35 years in the community, FoundCare Inc. has several locations throughout Palm Beach County, offering services that include pediatric and adult primary care, new women’s health services, chronic disease management, behavioral health services, dentistry, pharmacy, laboratory services and X-rays.

FoundCare’s mission is to fulfill unmet health care and social service needs of individuals and families in Palm Beach County. For more information, call 561-432-5849 or visit www.foundcare.org.

A new exhibit at the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, “Real Bodies,” will run from Sept. 28 through April 11.
It will give visitors a tour of human bodies that have been preserved using a process known as polymer impregnation, where bodily fluids are replaced by liquid plastic, which is then hardened to create a solid, durable anatomic specimen that will last indefinitely. The process leaves fine delicate tissue structures intact, down to the microscopic sphere, making the process invaluable for medical study.

The exhibit will feature a COVID-19 component, where visitors can learn more about the pandemic’s impact on the human body.

The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is at 4801 Dreher Trail N., West Palm Beach. For more information, call 561-832-1988 or visit www.sfsciencecenter.org. ;

Send health news to Christine Davis at cdavis9797@gmail.com.

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