‘I did CrossFit twice a week for 30 days’

Hands up who’s intimidated by CrossFit? You’re not alone. CrossFit can be seen as inaccessible to exercise newbies thanks to its hardcore nature and competitive group training sessions. But it doesn’t have to be that way – it is what you make of it.

Each workout can be just as fun as it is tough, while there are tons of CrossFit workouts for beginners and plenty of health benefits of CrossFit, and you don’t necessarily have to go to a box to train (that’s CrossFit lingo for gym, BTW) if you’d rather do your own thang. Whatever you do, we know that getting started can seem overwhelming, so you’ve come to the right place.

YouTuber and former athlete Keltie O’Connor – the woman who’s taken on Rebel Wilson and Pamela Reif’s diet and exercise regimesand completed a 100 day running challenge (which has now grown into an impressive 200+ streak), decided to take on a 30-day CrossFit challenge, to find out everything she can about this particular style of training for anyone intrigued.

Over the 30-day period, she committed to two CrossFit-style workouts per week with her PT, and focused her own WODs on running and calisthenics training – both aspects of training that are typically included in a group CrossFit class. WOD = a CrossFit term that stands for ‘workout of the day’, and calisthenics = a form of strength training that uses your bodyweight for resistance and is often performed rhythmically.

Once her 30-day challenge was up, O’Connor attempted her very first group CrossFit class, putting everything she had learned to the test.

Whether you’re a CrossFit beginner, have dabbled with a WOD or two in your time, or are a CrossFit pro looking for some more tips, here’s everything O’Connor wants you to know, plus her results.

1. Good form is essential

Despite being a fitness fanatic and no stranger to it weightliftingO’Connor admitted to not having picked up a heavy weight for two years, so ‘my confidence was at zero and my form and mobility was rusty,’ she says. Faced with two choices: allow discouragement to take over and give up, or take this as an opportunity to work towards regaining strength and weightlifting form, O’Connor strapped on her lifting belt and got to work. Kudos.

This content is imported from Instagram. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Before jumping straight into a CrossFit box, O’Connor’s PT advised she spent the first day testing herself on the nine foundational CrossFit movements:

Air squat

      • Front squat
      • Overhead press
      • Push press
      • Push jerk
      • Deadlift
      • Sumo deadlift
      • High pull
      • Medicine ball clean

Verdict? ‘I’ve been humbled,’ says O’Connor, ‘The reality is that my foundational form isn’t where it should be, so I need to start from the beginning.’ And so her 30-day training course began.

The lesson here? Form is queen. Diving headfirst into CrossFit without any awareness of basic form cues for the exercises that a typical CrossFit workout will involve is likely to wind up in injury, which will only put you back to square one.

Check out our exercise library for technical tips on various exercises.

This content is imported from Instagram. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

2. Have patience with progress

A week into her CrossFit intro course, O’Connor was getting back into her weightlifting groove, but feeling the pressure to progress as quickly as possible. ‘It seems frustrating at first to have to go through all of this training, but if a gym throws you to the wolves with no mandatory induction program on how to properly lift – don’t go to that gym!’ she says. Damn. Right.

Throwing yourself back into weight training after a long hiatus is never easy, and O’Connor began to feel this at the start of week two. ‘On day one, I was so motivated and I wanted to feel powerful and it was a really fun feeling. Now, I’m midway through the week and I’m like “Why am I doing this?” I have another workout tomorrow and every part of me wants to cancel,’ she says.

But no matter how much O’Connor wants to give up, she doesn’t. It might seem like a waste of time to go back to basics if you’re not a complete beginner, but know that without a solid foundation of technique and form, there’s only so far you can go. Building up from the very bottom is what will help you achieve bigger goals (or to simply do CrossFit for longer, without any injuries).

3. Make realistic goals with a feasible routine

This content is imported from Instagram. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

What’s one of the most important aspects of exercising and progress? Yep, rest. Halfway through the challenge, O’Connor embraced her body’s need for some R&R and took some time out to ‘rest and recover’ AKA jet across Canada, America, and Europe while partying. Honestly, live your best life, girl.

She didn’t stick to the exact same routine of two workouts per week, but she did, however, still manage to squeeze in a few training sessions around catching flights and socialising. Teaming this with very little sleep and poor nutrition (both of which she had on lock before heading off traveling) left her running on empty.

Powering through, O’Connor manages to get a sesh in on her New York trip. Here, she completed AMRAP (as many reps as possible) and EMOM (every minute on the minute) circuits, and some cardio and strength routines – an example of the kind of thing she did in prep for her first CrossFit class.

Circuit 1: EMOM for 7 minutes

          • 250m air skier
          • Treadmill runs on incline 10

Circuit 3 This content is imported from Instagram. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

After two weeks of pushing her mind and body to the limit, something broke. I want to be transparent with you guys…I’m hating this CrossFit training program. Right now, my heart is not in it. It’s a reminder that these intense workouts are awesome, but you have to put up boundaries,’ she says. Use a lack of enjoyment as your signal to slow down. As we always say, fitness should be fun, so if you start dreading your CrossFit workouts, take that as your sign to let it go a little.

Looking back on her progress, O’Connor realized that her original plan for this challenge and what it really turned out to be were very different. ‘I planned that I’d be doing these intense group classes by day 5 and that by day 30 I’d have a new, jacked physique. It’s funny the kinds of unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves,’ she says. Too true.

4. Listen to your body and adapt your routine accordingly

Reporting from Ottawa jet lagged and burned out, O’Connor decided that if she was going to make it through the training course and into that first CrossFit box, then she was going to have to make some serious changes. ‘This is the first time in so long that I felt like my body was failing me. I can push through soreness, and even slight injuries, but this is the first time I felt broken,’ she says.

Resolved to get to day 30, O’Connor revised her training approach and set some ground rules for the sake of her health, both physical and mental.

  1. Focus on mobility and stretching
  2. Warm-up properly
  3. Stick to a meal schedule
  4. Use a Theragun (seriously, we can back this one up. Check out our edit of the best massage guns)
  5. Use the sauna – self care > anything
  6. Sleep

Although CrossFit can be modified so that it’s not quite as intense as some might think, it’s still naturally more vigorous than other styles of training, so it’s even more important that you take things down a notch if you feel your body start to struggle. Your sleep quality, appetite and mood are all good indicators – if anything seems out of whack, take a step back.

5. Results take time

Final thoughts

At the end of her 30-day CrossFit challenge, O’Connor got her first taste of a group CrossFit class.I did my first full class. I was nervous, excited, and wondered if I was really ready and prepared for it,’ says O’Connor. Her main achievement? Being able to keep up. ‘You have to celebrate little victories. I was excited that I could step into a group class and feel confident that my form was there, and at least I know where I need to improve.’Physical transformations aren’t really O’Connor’s bag. Instead, she likes to focus on improving her form and performance, but she did see some physical changes after a month of workouts. Here are her after pics.If there’s one thing to take away from O’Connor’s teachings it’s that we all have to start somewhere. ‘Don’t feel guilty if your squat form isn’t perfect, it takes time and practice and consistency to create progress.’ Word.

Food Allergies Can Be Reversed by Targeting the Microbiome

Summary: Researchers developed polymeric micelles of butyrate, a bacterial compound made by a healthy microbiome, that is effective against peanut allergies in mice.

Source: American Chemical Society

Although many people with dietary allergies experience mild symptoms when exposed to triggering foods, some face potentially fatal consequences. A bacterial compound called butyrate that’s made by healthy microbiomes has shown promise against allergic reactions in lab tests, but it’s nasty to take orally.

Today, scientists describe a more palatable way to deliver this compound and report that their “polymeric micelles” are effective against peanut allergies in mice. The treatment could someday counteract many types of food allergies and inflammatory diseases.

The researchers will present their results at the fall meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS Fall 2022 is a hybrid meeting being held virtually and in-person Aug. 21–25, with on-demand access available Aug. 26-Sept. 9. The meeting features nearly 11,000 presentations on a wide range of scientific topics.

Some of the bacteria in the gut microbiome produce metabolites, such as butyrate, that foster the growth of beneficial bacteria and maintain the lining of the gut. If a person’s microbiome is unhealthy and lacks these butyrate-producing bacteria, fragments of partially digested food can leak out of the gut and produce an immune reaction that results in an allergic response.

One way to treat those with allergies would be to provide the missing bugs to them orally or with a fecal transplant, but that hasn’t worked well in the clinic, according to Jeffrey Hubbell, Ph.D., one of the project’s principal investigators (PIs).

“So we thought, why don’t we just deliver the metabolites — like butyrate — that a healthy microbiome produces?”

“But butyrate has a very bad smell, like dog poop and rancid butter, and it also tastes bad, so people wouldn’t want to swallow it,” says Shijie Cao, Ph.D., who is presenting the results at the meeting for the team, which is at the University of Chicago. And even if people could choke it down, butyrate would be digested before reaching its destination in the lower gut.

To overcome these challenges, the researchers, including co-PI Cathryn Nagler, Ph.D., and Ruyi Wang, Ph.D., designed a new delivery system. They polymerized butanoyloxyethyl methacrylamide — which has a butyrate group as a side chain — with methacrylic acid or hydroxypropyl methacrylamide.

The resulting polymers self-assembled into aggregates, or polymeric micelles, that tucked the butyrate side chains in their core, thus cloaking the compound’s foul smell and taste.

The researchers administered these micelles to the digestive systems of mice lacking either healthy gut bacteria or a properly functioning gut lining. After digestive juices released the butyrate in the lower gut, the inert polymers were eliminated in the feces.

The treatment restored the gut’s protective barrier and microbiome, in part by increasing production of peptides that kill off harmful bacteria, which made room for butyrate-producing bacteria.

Most importantly, dosing allergic mice with the micelles prevented a life-threatening anaphylactic response when they were exposed to peanuts.

See also

This shows a statue of a head
This shows a woman dishing up food
If a person’s microbiome is unhealthy and lacks these butyrate-producing bacteria, fragments of partially digested food can leak out of the gut and produce an immune reaction that results in an allergic response. Image is in the public domain

“This type of therapy is not antigen specific,” Cao notes. “So theoretically, it can be broadly applied to any food allergies through the modulation of gut health.”

Next up are trials in larger animals, followed by clinical trials. If those trials succeed and the US Food and Drug Administration approves the oral treatment, the micelles could be marketed in small packets; consumers would tear open a packet and stir the contents into a glass of water or juice. In other work with the micelles, the team is analyzing data on treating inflammatory bowel diseases with the oral therapy.

The team is also investigating administration via injection. The researchers have shown that this method allows the micelles and their butyrate cargo to accumulate in lymph nodes, which are part of the immune system.

They found that this approach is effective in treating peanut allergies in mice, but it could also be used to suppress immune activation locally — rather than throughout the body. For example, injections could be helpful in patients who have had an organ transplant or who have a localized autoimmune and inflammatory condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Funding: The researchers acknowledge support and funding from their start-up company, ClostraBio, and the University of Chicago.

About this microbiome and food allergy research news

Author: Katie Cottingham
Source: American Chemical Society
Contact: Katie Cottingham – American Chemical Society
Image: The image is in the public domain

Original Research: The findings will be presented at ACS Fall 2022

More than 40% of elite sport coaches we surveyed suffered mental ill-health. They need our support, not stigma

With the recent sudden death of former rugby league coach and player Paul Greenconversations about the mental health of elite coaching staff are paramount.

Our research in 2020, published in July this year, found more than 40% of coaches from Olympic sports we surveyed reported mental health symptoms at a level that would warrant professional treatment. But fewer than 6% reported seeking treatment at the time.

Despite facing immense pressure in their daily roles, the mental health needs of elite coaches have been largely neglected in public conversation.

Athletes are increasingly discussing mental health

In recent years, we have seen many high-profile athletes across several sports talk openly about their mental health struggles. They include Naomi Osaka, Nick Kyrgios, Simone Biles, Michael Phelps, Bailey Smith and Majak Daw.

UFC fighter Paddy Pimblett recently challenged mental health stigma and promoted seeking help in a post-fight interview.

When elite athletes openly discuss mental ill-health, this is often publicly celebrated. This aligns with changing cultural attitudes, moving away from rigid stoicism and towards recognizing mental ill-health as a reality rather than a rarity.

English UFC fighter Paddy Pimblett on the importance of men talking openly about their mental health.

Coaches largely neglected

But it’s rarer to see people talking about mental ill-health in elite coaches.

Very few coaches have publicly discussed their experiences, with a small number of notable exceptions in the AFL. Former St Kilda player and Richmond coach Danny Frawley openly discussed experiencing depression and anxiety before his death in September 2019.

Former Essendon player and coach James Hird also described experiencing suicidal thoughtscontacting Beyond Blue for crisis support, and receiving inpatient treatment for depression.

Read more:
Naomi Osaka isn’t the only elite athlete to struggle with mental health – here’s how sport should move forward

However, public recognition of the pressures and mental health challenges experienced by elite coaches remains poor.

Elite coaches experience immense pressure in their daily roles. They are subject to many of the same challenges as the elite athletes they coach. These include performance pressure, public scrutiny, online harassment, role insecurity, extended periods traveling for sport and missing significant life events as a result.

Coaches are also tasked with vast levels of responsibility for club and sporting success. Their role requires them to act as the face of club decisions, performance and injuries – and they’re often exposed to blistering public opinion and scrutiny about such matters.

In 2021, tennis player Naomi Osaka commented on the toll of post-match interviews – but no such discussions have been applied to coaches.

Our research

In 2020, the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) commissioned a survey of the mental health and well-being of coaches and support staff across Australian Olympic-level sports (the 2020 Mental Health Audit). Our team at youth mental health organization Orygen and the University of Melbourne conducted this study, which represents one of the largest surveys of coach and support staff mental health and well-being.

We surveyed 78 coaches and 174 support staff from Australia’s elite Olympic sport system. The survey assessed rates of mental health symptoms, psychological distress, sleep disturbance and alcohol use.

We found elite coaches reported mental health symptoms at a similar level to elite athletes.

Signs of mental health stigma were also apparent. For example, 30% thought mental health problems would reflect poorly on them in a sport setting. This suggests coaches may feel unsafe sharing their mental health experiences.

Job security and feeling overworked appear to be major challenges for elite coaches. This is perhaps unsurprising given that, like athletes, their job security depends on performance. Poor performance often leads to speculation about a coach’s job security and, in many cases, to losing their job.

Elite sport is also fast-paced, which frequently presents staff and athletes with new challenges. The dedication required to succeed in such environments often requires sacrifices in other areas of life.

Less than half of the coaches in our study reported being satisfied with their work-life balance. They described the negative impacts that too much work, work-related stress and lacking quality time had on their quality of life and satisfaction with life.

How to support coaches’ mental health

To reduce stigma, we need a cultural shift in sport, media and the general community.

Sporting organizations and the media need to promote the voices of coaches who have experienced mental health challenges.

It’s also crucial to ensure coaches can access appropriate mental health supports. The AIS’s Mental Health Referral Network is a good example. Those who can use this service include current and former athletes, coaches, support staff and staff employed by Australia’s national sporting organizations.

While elite sports are highly demanding environments, coach mental well-being should still be prioritized.

If this article has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Fashion tips on the right workout wear for your body | Fashion Trends

Your body’s fitness is extremely crucial for maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle as according to a study, those who set aside time to exercise daily were found to be happier and more successful than those who didn’t. where to get oxymetholone The survey found out that 75% of the 2000 respondents who exercised at least once a week were happier and successful than the rest and if you are a regular exerciser, following different kinds of workout routines like a sweaty gym session or practicing yoga outdoors, picking the right clothes becomes important.

Having the right activewear not only boosts your confidence and enhances your looks, but also results in a productive and healthy workout. Wearing the right clothes lifts your mood, keeps you motivated, protects you from excessive sweating and smelling bad, makes you flexible, prevents injuries and maintains your body’s temperature.

The right activewear is an investment in your health as it can benefit you in multiple ways such as improving your blood circulation and providing oxygen to working muscles, resulting in better recovery, endurance and improved power. Also, it provides you complete comfort to improve your concentration to perform the exercises to the best of your ability.

So in picking the right workout clothes, you should carefully evaluate all the aspects to achieve your fitness goals quickly and easily. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Anand Singh, Fashion Design Manager at DaMENSCH, suggested the following tips:

1. Choosing the right fabric

While shopping for your workout clothes, invest in fabrics that are light, comfortable, and sweat-wicking. The workout regimes result in excessive sweating so you should choose the ones which dry moisture away quickly to help you stay fresh and energized. The moisture perspiring from the body needs to evaporate to regulate your body temperature. You can choose fabrics with high-performance microfibre which are designed to help you in exercises, dry easily, prevent bad smell and keep you cool and comfortable. Polyester, spandex, poly-dri, nylon, etc. are some of the good examples which are durable, moisture wicking and provide enough flexibility during workouts.

2. Yes, quality matters

As clothes provide you with safety against injuries during exercise, you should never compromise on quality. Also, the mediocre clothes hold the moisture for long and may irritate your skin and can lead to infections, rashes, and itching. These materials are not designed to help you in exercises and may disturb your body’s natural temperature, leading to dehydration, fatigue or burnouts. On the other hand, high-quality fabrics accelerate your performance by providing the flexibility to perform full range of motions, helping in maintaining right posture, and enduring rigorous training for improved performance.

3. Know what the weather demands

A healthy routine has to be maintained throughout the year. Long investments can only give you promising returns in the future. It is essential to be ready to work out in every season and you should keep a set ready to fit the weather conditions. The summer season asks for comfortable, cool clothes that easily wick the sweat away. On the other hand, the rainy season brings the challenge of avoiding extra moisture to prevent infections, allergies and skin diseases. So, you should keep clothes that keep you dry and make you feel fresh. Also, keeping different clothes of different colors eliminates the hassles of washing clothes daily and provides many options to look different every day. Moreover, you should keep warm clothes in your closet in the winter season especially if you exercise in outdoor settings. Dressing in layers is always suggested so that you can remove clothes as per your body’s temperature to stay energized and motivated.

4. For right form and flexibility

Maintaining the right posture with flexibility is very important to get your body in the right shape and prevent injuries. The right clothes can provide you unmatched comfort and flexibility to help you stretch better and lift weights with easy movements. It leads to unrestricted movements and also facilitates your muscle recovery. The clothes made of fine fabric provide a soft touch to the skin and result in hassle-free workouts.

While exercising can greatly benefit your health in many ways, keeping the right workout wear in your checklist can bring promising results. So next time you step out to exercise, make sure you wear the right clothes to look good, stay energized and motivated throughout the workout session.


Dietitian Susie Burrell reveals what really happens to your body when you cut out meat, dairy, seafood and eggs

In this day and age, it is not really a diet until you have to eliminate something: carbs or dairy or wheat or gluten – or even all of the above.

But what are the nutritional consequences of eliminating whole food groups from your diet?

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: How much meat should you eat?

For more Diet related news and videos check out Diet >>

And how do we replace the ‘banned’ foods to ensure we are not missing out on something the body needs?

Here are some top tips on how to balance your dietary intake.


The first thing we generally think of with milk and other dairy foods is their calcium content.

But dairy is also a rich natural source of magnesium, Vitamin B12, phosphorus, protein, and vitamins D and A, all of which can be impacted over time if dairy is eliminated from the diet.

Sydney nutritionist and dietitian Susie Burrell. Credit: Susie Burrell

As dairy is such a rich natural source of calcium, it is very difficult for adults to get the 800-1000mg of calcium they need each day for healthy bones without any dairy in the diet.

While nut milks and soy products may be fortified with calcium, it is rarely in the amounts found in the equivalent of three servings of dairy each day.

There are also a number of popular plant-based milk alternatives that contain little to no added calcium, which means you may still be consuming what you think is ‘milk’ with few of the nutritional benefits real milk offers.

The issue with a low calcium intake is that the potential side effects – including brittle bones – may not be seen for a number of years, by which time it is too late to do much about it.

If you want to ditch dairy from your diet, make sure you are choosing nut- or grain-based milks fortified with calcium, or take a calcium supplement regularly so you get the 800-1000mg of daily calcium required.

Red meat

You may choose not to include red meat in your diet for a number of reasons.

But, nutritionally, the key issue is that you also eliminate one of the richest natural sources of iron.

While white meat, eggs, whole grains and leafy greens do contain some iron, the reality is that this iron is relatively poorly absorbed compared to that found in red meat.

If you eliminate some foods from your diet, you still need to get important vitamins and minerals. Stock image. Credit: Monica Bertolazzi/Getty Images

Low iron levels are common, with up to 25 percent of Australian women battling low iron levels – which can lead to fatigue, breathlessness and low immunity.

While vegetarians adapt over time and become more efficient at absorbing their iron from plant foods, it tends to be those who consume red meat occasionally, or still include fish or chicken in their diet, who are at higher risk of developing iron deficiency, as their body is used to absorb iron from animal sources.

To get adequate dietary iron without including red meat, particular attention needs to be paid to include iron-rich foods at each meal and snack, to get even close to the 9-15mg of iron adult females require each day.


White meat including chicken and turkey, while relatively lean and protein rich, do not offer the density of nutrition that some other protein-rich foods do.

You need to be mindful, if you choose not to eat poultry, that your meals still contain a good quality protein.


Eggs are an extremely nutritious food, containing more than 20 essential vitamins and minerals including good quality protein, good fats, Vitamins A and E.

As such, they make a nutrient-rich addition to any diet.

While the nutrients in eggs are important, most of what we get from eggs can be gained from other foods.

Young couple preparing food together, tasting spaghetti Credit: Westend61/Getty Images/Westend61

One exception to this is selenium, a powerful antioxidant that plays a key role in cell health and that is found in very few foods, including eggs and Brazil nuts.

A single egg offers at least one quarter of your daily selenium requirement.

Eggs are also a good source of Vitamin D, another nutrient that can be low in our overall diet.

So pay a little more attention to the good fats in your diet if eggs are off the menu.

Fish and seafood

Seafood, including all fish as well as shellfish, is extremely good for us.

High in protein and relatively low in calories, it is a nutrient-rich addition to any diet.

The two key nutrients specifically found in fish that you stand to miss out on are the omega 3 fats and zinc from shellfish.

While omega 3s are only in a small number of oily fish – including salmon, sardines and fresh tuna – oily fish are one of the very few natural foods which offer this important nutrient.

This means that skipping oily fish altogether will make it almost impossible to get the amount if omega 3 you need in your diet, without supplementation.

Shellfish, especially oysters and mussels, are packed with zinc. Stock image. Credit: Getty Images

Zinc is another nutrient we can lack.

But shellfish, in particular oysters and mussels, are packed full of zinc which is crucial for hormone production, immune function and good skin.

The other less frequently mentioned nutrient Aussies get from our seafood is iodine – low iodine is linked to impaired thyroid functioning in the long term.

This means if fish and shellfish are not your thing, a dietary supplement may be warranted.

Susie Burrell is a Sydney nutritionist and a dietitian for Channel 7’s Sunrise and a podcaster at The Nutrition Couch.

For more engaging Health and Wellbeing content, visit 7Life on Facebook


Lupus Pill Shows Promise in Mice; Clinical Trial Underway

Summary: Afimetoran, a newly developed pill to treat lupus, not only prevents lupus-like symptoms in mice, it also reverses signs of organ damage caused by the disease and prevents death. The medication is now undergoing phase 2 clinical trials to assess its effectiveness in lupus patients.

Source: American Chemical Society

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that attacks organs and can be fatal. There’s no cure, so current treatments aim to limit damage and alleviate symptoms. Some of these therapies have to be injected, some have serious side effects, and many aren’t very effective.

But today, scientists report they have begun phase 2 clinical trials with a pill containing a compound that, in mice, not only prevents lupus-like symptoms, but also reverses signs of organ damage caused by the disease and prevents death.

The researchers will present their results at the fall meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS Fall 2022 is a hybrid meeting being held virtually and in-person Aug. 21–25, with on-demand access available Aug. 26–Sept. 9. The meeting features nearly 11,000 presentations on a wide range of scientific topics.

“Few new therapies have succeeded, but we believe our compound could be an effective treatment for lupus,” says Alaric Dyckman, Ph.D. The disease affects 5 million people worldwide, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. Symptoms include rashes, extreme fatigue, pain, inflammation and deterioration of organs, such as the kidneys and heart, which can lead to death.

Lupus develops when the immune system attacks the body’s tissues. Years ago, researchers began suspecting that this process involved toll-like receptors (TLRs) 7 and 8, which are cellular proteins that activate the immune system when they detect viral RNA or mistakenly identify a person’s own RNA as a threat.

“Genetic data and evaluations of injectable treatments suggested TLR7 and 8 could be drug targets for lupus. What was missing was an ability to directly block these receptors with small molecules that could be taken orally,” says Dyckman. So in 2010, he and other scientists at Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) set out to develop such compounds.

New options would be welcome, since many patients do not respond fully to current medications. The two approved therapies that were specifically developed for lupus reduce the activity of specific immune system components: AstraZeneca’s anifrolumab blocks a receptor for the protein interferon, while GlaxoSmithKline’s belimumab reduces the survival of white blood cells known as B cells.

Other treatments include steroids and other general immune suppressants, anti-malarials, anti-inflammatories and anticoagulants.

However, anifrolumab and belimumab must be given by injection or infusion, Dyckman notes, while steroids and general immune suppressants are associated with safety concerns and were not originally designed to treat lupus.

The BMS researchers began zeroing in on a suitable alternative by screening the company’s compound collection for molecules that could block TLR7/8 signaling. The team modified the structures of the initial hits to reduce interaction with other receptors, improve potency and enable oral dosing.

The resulting compound, “afimetoran,” binds to the target TLRs, inhibiting their operation to achieve beneficial activity. Like anifrolumab, it interferes with interferon, and like belimumab, it controls damage from overactive B cells. It also inhibits the production of multiple proinflammatory cytokines that cause a lot of tissue damage in lupus.

“With afimetoran, not only could we prevent the development of lupus-like symptoms in mice before their disease onset, but we could actually reverse the symptoms and prevent death in animals that were days or weeks away from succumbing to the disease,” Dyckman says .

“We hadn’t seen that reversal with other mechanisms we had evaluated, so we were particularly excited about that finding.”

This shows a packet of pink pills
The BMS researchers began zeroing in on a suitable alternative by screening the company’s compound collection for molecules that could block TLR7/8 signaling. Image is in the public domain

Dyckman says he believes the combined effects of afimetoran give it the potential to control lupus as well as or better than existing treatments and do so through an oral delivery, as opposed to requiring injection or infusion.

The team also found that afimetoran combined well with corticosteroid treatments in mice. That means patients might be able to use lower doses of steroids, a mainstay of lupus treatment.

Lower doses would be beneficial because steroids have side effects, such as weight gain, thinning bones, high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as an increased risk of infection.

See also

This shows a man clutching his belly

Phase 1 clinical trials of afimetoran to evaluate safety in healthy people and shed light on the compound’s behavior in the body have been completed.

The trials showed that a low, once-daily oral dose could almost completely block signaling through TLR7/8. And now, a phase 2 trial to test its effectiveness in lupus patients is underway. Because of its mode of action, Dyckman says, it may also work in other autoimmune disorders, such as psoriasis or arthritis.

BMS is testing other compounds against lupus, such as deucravacitinib, an oral, selective tyrosine kinase 2 (TYK2) inhibitor that is moving into phase 3 studies. Other companies are also making progress. Merck, for instance, is evaluating its own oral TLR7/8 blocker, enpatoran, in phase 2 trials.

But the crowded field doesn’t concern Dyckman. Despite intensive efforts to develop new therapies over the past several decades, few have succeeded.

“So getting a lot of shots on goal is important,” he says. “Also, lupus is such a heterogeneous disease that it’s unlikely that any single approach will provide relief for all of the patients out there.”

Funding: The researchers acknowledge support and funding from Bristol Myers Squibb.

About this neuropharmacology research news

Author: Katie Cottingham
Source: American Chemical Society
Contact: Katie Cottingham – American Chemical Society
Image: The image is in the public domain

Original Research: The findings will be presented at ACS Fall 2022

Mental health, sexual disorders go hand in hand. Here’s how to boost fertility Health

The taboo and restrictive conversation around sexual and mental health makes it difficult for people to talk about these issues and seek help when needed since it is low libidolack of orgasms, erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation, these issues aren’t dealt with in a holistic manner. A lot of times, poor sexual health like vaginismus, endometriosis in women is caused due to trauma and abuse while men with poor semen health can experience low libido and premature ejaculation etc.

All this works in tandem with the mental health of an individual since if they are unable to satisfy their partner male or female, it causes various mental health issues like depression, anxiety leading to hopelessness and suicidal ideations due to low self-esteem and shame. The mind and body are connected through the vagus nervous system hence, it is imperative that one is not only focused on the physical well-being but sexual and mental well-being as well as both are closely intertwined.

Infertility in the Indian context is a medical condition with societal consequences and as such, couples and individuals experiencing infertility exhibit mental health problems. Some of the feelings that infertile individuals report include anxiety, depression, feelings related to loss of control in their lives and a dip in self-confidence and self-esteem while they can also feel isolated and alienated because of their condition.

These feelings have been reported by both men and women however, there is a silent shame imposed by society on men with questions being raised directly on their masculinity. The fear of being infertile is so deeply rooted that they might deter from getting themselves tested and thus, the female in most cases, faces the brunt of the situation.

In a study published in Fertility and Sterility (2016) with 352 women and 274 men opting for infertility treatments found that depression is as widespread as in 56% women and 32% in men. As many as 76% of women and 61% of men reported experiencing anxiety. These symptoms in women afflicted with infertility have been compared with patients who are diagnosed with hypertension and cancer.

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Roshan Jain, Consultant Psychiatrist at Bangalore’s Apollo Hospitals, shared, “Sexuality and sexual health is an important aspect in the quality of our life and relationships. Any mental health ailments or psychological issues remain the most important risk factor for sexual dysfunction or disorder. The neurobiology and symptoms of many ailments such as anxiety and depression can drive many features of sexual dysfunction. Loss of libido or interest in sexual activity is strongly linked with depression. Likewise, premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, lack of arousal as well as fear of intimacy can be underpinned by an anxiety disorder.”

He added, “Physical or sexual abuse and trauma can be linked with a wide array of interpersonal emotional and psychological problems, consequently impacting on intimacy and sexual contact. Finally, many medicines used for mental problems such as antidepressants and antipsychotic medication can adversely impact sexual function. As per the definition of World Health Organization (WHO), health is nothing but an overall physical, psychological, social as well as spiritual well-being. I think we can add that good sexual health is equally important for one’s emotional and interpersonal well-being. The mind and the body are eternally in the link. And likewise, the biology and psychology are too. Investment in one is likely to effect a positive impact on the other.”

Echoing the same, Dr. Kersi Chavda, Psychiatrist at PD Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai’s Khar, explained, “When we talk about mental health and sexual disorders, it goes bi-directional. Sexual problems can lead to depression and mental health and the reverse is true as well. Mental illness like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder etc affects sexual health for a lot of individuals. Furthermore, sexual health has various components and each needs attention. Depression can lead to lack of desire to have sex. This can be a concern in the long run as the individual feels that he/she starts feeling a kind of numbness and a feeling of not enjoying sex anymore.”

According to him, “In some cases, performance anxiety leads to delayed or premature ejaculation, in which an individual can dread or have a fear that there might be a performance failure. Another psychiatric condition (not as reported as it probably should be) is Fetishism where an individual is excited to have sex in response to an object or clothing that his/her partner is wearing like shoes, thongs, leather blouse, locket etc. If one is psychotic or has bipolar disorder, he/she can have either a diminished desire for sex or over increased desire for sex during both of which can cause issues. Secondly, medications especially for hypertension, anti-diabetes, and some psychiatric medication can also affect sexual health as it might reduce the libido.”

Talking about what does one do in such scenarios, Dr Kersi Chavda recommended, “In such scenarios, it is always advisable to visit your doctor. During the medical examination, the doctor will try to evaluate and understand the primary cause of the condition. The evaluation will help conclude if the condition is due to medications or if it is related to the basic condition itself. During diagnosis, if found that the medicines are leading to less sexual desire, then the doctor will gradually change the medicine dosage to suit the patient. Also, in many cases, doctors opt for a combination of medications and psychological methods (like fantasy techniques/squeeze method etc) to treat the disorder. A combination of both, medication and therapy, helps in improving the overall sexual health.”

Adding to the list of tips on what can be done, Dr. Ajith Partha, MBBS, DPM (Diploma in psychiatric medicine) at Kindly, said, “A trend that I have seen is that post Covid-19, a lot of men have started talking about these issues and consulting a doctor. It is important to create safe spaces and communities where children as well as adults learn about unsafe sex, fertility issues etc. The most important step is to seek help and get regular check-ups done. For eg, regular semen analysis, fertility tests and consulting a specialist recommended by the physician is a must and there should be a collaborative effort between the patient, doctor and a mental health professional.”

He pointed out, “A lot of times with poor sexual health, it can cause low energy, fatigue and stress leading to serious physiological disorders like hormone imbalance, infertility, tumors, infections, sexually transmitted diseases and immunity disorders. So, if you think, sexual, physiological and mental disorders are all closely connected with each other and require equal attention. Ignoring the issue will further jeopardize one’s health.”

Asserting the flipside that sexual disorders may be caused due to challenges one faces with their mental health, Dr. Kshitiz Murdia, CEO and Co-Founder of Indira IVF, said, “This can be traced to the existence of mental illness or mental distress that manifests itself as social behavior, leading to sexual dysfunction in the individual. Furthermore, the therapy or medication one takes can also impact their sexual function. It has also been observed that there is a co-relation between the adoption of an unhealthy lifestyle and the presence of mental health disorders. In individuals facing complications with their infertility due to mental disorders and vice-versa, a few proactive initiatives can help limit their consequences.”

He advised, “Maintain a scientific and medical mind-set while addressing both mental and sexual disorders. One must pay attention to the symptoms associated with both and not neglect them as this would only escalate the extent of the condition. With this understanding, one must approach a relevant medical practitioner in order to take remedial measures. One must speak with an infertility specialist, psychologist or psychiatrist for the same, as the case may be. It is advised that individuals incorporate healthy habits in their daily life, as well as following an engaging schedule. This includes inculcating a balanced diet, physical activities, and including activities that one enjoys. Cessation of unhealthy habits such as consumption of alcohol and tobacco can help. There are many therapies available that assist people to quit tobacco and alcohol consumption that contribute to sexual disorders.”


I just tried Chris Hemsworth’s 70-rep bodyweight workout — here’s what happened

If you’ve ever wondered what speedy workouts Chris Hemsworth likes to do in his spare time, we’ve got the answer. The Thor actor recently shared a bodyweight workout on his social media and like any good fitness editor, I was eager to give it a try.

I previously reviewed Chris’ workout app, Centr, and was pleasantly surprised at how simple, practical and useful it was. So I knew that Chris’ workout would be a good little body blitz to get my teeth stuck in after a day of being sat behind my laptop. You can also read what happened when we tried it exact resistance band workout Chris used on the set of Thor: Love and Thunder here.

How China’s soaring COVID numbers put the rest of the world at risk

China is by far the world’s biggest COVID powder keg — and it might be on the verge of exploding.

Not since the earliest days of the pandemic has the most populous country on the planet ever reported more than about 200 coronavirus cases per day — dizzying evidence of the blunt, even brutal, effectiveness of Beijing’s “zero COVID” strategy, which requires strict mass lockdowns at the first flicker of an outbreak.

For most of the last two years, mainland China has averaged fewer than 50 cases per day. According to official numbers, no one — not one of China’s 1.4 billion residents — has died of COVID since May 16, 2020. While the virus ravaged the rest of the globe, China claimed it had basically vanished from its country of origin.

But now, tragically, that appears to be changing.

Over the last few weeks, China’s COVID curve has shot straight up, the telltale sign of an Omicron outbreak. Nationwide, new daily cases cleared 5,100 for the first time ever on Monday. Even in February 2020, when the virus first skyrocketed in Wuhan, that number officially peaked at just 3,300 per day, on average.

A health care worker in a protective suit takes a throat swab sample.

A health care worker takes a throat swab sample in Beijing on Thursday. (Andy Wong/AP)

It’s entirely possible, in other words, that Omicron — and its BA.2 subvariant, which is at least 30 percent more transmissible and appears to account for the bulk of new infections — has already triggered China’s worst outbreak to date. So far, at least 28 of the country’s 31 provinces and regions — including major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen — have reported new infections.

In response, Beijing has followed its usual playbook. According to CNN, “five cities — collectively home to more than 37 million residents — are now under varying levels of lockdown,” with locals forced to remain in their homes or neighborhoods as schools, businesses, factories and public transport close and authorities conduct multiple rounds of compulsory mass testing. Two mayors in northeastern China have been dismissed; even Shanghai has shuttered its school system and shifted to online instruction.

As Lei Zhenglong, deputy head of the National Health Commission’s Bureau of Disease Prevention and Control, said in an interview with the official Xinhua news agency published on Wednesday, “Our prevention and control measures” must be “earlier, faster, stricter and more effective ” because of how quickly and easily Omicron spreads.

But the question now is, how long can this go on?

People standing in line amid snowfall.

People line up at a testing site in Beijing on Friday. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

Handled properly, a zero COVID approach can pay off. Until late last year, New Zealand essentially had eradicated the virus by closing its borders, targeting lockdowns and aggressively testing, tracing and isolating every infection it detected. Today, just 156 New Zealanders have died from the disease — total. And the country has lifted almost all restrictions.

Yet there’s a reason New Zealand’s policy worked: It was just as aggressive about vaccinating its people as eliminating the virus. So far, more than 95% of New Zealanders over 12 have been vaccinated; more importantly, nearly 100% of elderly New Zealanders — by far the most vulnerable group — have received two or more vaccine doses. By the time the country stopped trying to eliminate the virus, after the ever-more-contagious Delta and Omicron variants made it pretty much impossible, nearly every resident at risk of severe illness or death already had the antibodies they needed to ward off the worst outcomes.

Hong Kong, however, has been a different story. The city also went with a zero COVID approach; until Omicron, it never recorded more than a handful of cases each day. Yet when Omicron finally hit, it hit hard, propelling new cases from about 100 per day on Feb. 4 to a high of more than 44,000 one month later.

Workers move coffins.

Workers move coffins in Shenzhen on Wednesday amid a lockdown. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

The problem was that due to hesitancy, misinformation and a lack of official urgency, a staggering 66% of residents over the age of 80 were still unvaccinated at the time — and most of those who were vaccinated had received China’s non-mRNA Sinovac vaccine, which is significantly less effective against Omicron infection. As a result, 1 in 4 cases reported in Hong Kong are now resulting in death; more than 4,500 residents have succumbed to the virus in the last month alone. That’s by far the worst death rate in the world, an unthinkable toll two years into the pandemic.

The risk for China — where the Sinovac vaccine is standard, where more than 50 million people over 60 are not fully vaccinated and where at least 15 million people over 80 are not vaccinated at all — is that it’s about to become the next Hong Kong.

Yet even if that doesn’t happen — even if Beijing’s more authoritarian “prevention and control measures” do turn out to be “earlier, faster, stricter and more effective” than ever before — major risks remain. For one thing, reporting out of China suggests that people are losing patience with draconian lockdowns. “I really broke down tonight and have never wanted to leave Shenzhen as much as I do tonight. Since I opened my shop on March 1, I haven’t made a single penny,” a comment made in response to a post on WeChat by the Shenzhen Health Commission read, according to the Washington Post.

The Communist Party government is starting to acknowledge the downside of such restrictions as well, especially as they hinder major auto and tech suppliers and as China’s economy slows. On Thursday, President Xi Jinping urged the Politburo Standing Committee, the Chinese Communist Party’s top decision-making body, to “strive to achieve the greatest prevention and control effect with the smallest cost, and minimize the impact of the pandemic on economic and social development ,” according to the Xinhua news agency.

Workers wearing protective gear at a temporary testing center.

Workers wearing protective gear help residents get tested for the coronavirus at a temporary testing center in Hong Kong on Monday. (Kin Cheung/AP)

Yet China also revised its pandemic guidelines this week to include the use of Paxlovid, the highly effective antiviral pills made by Pfizer — a sign that it may lack confidence in its current immunity levels to prevent mass death from Omicron. Until Chinese residents can receive mRNA boostersit’s unlikely that Beijing will follow New Zealand’s path out of the pandemic, and the same story — outbreak, lockdown, outbreak, lockdown — will keep playing out over and over again.

And that, in turn, leaves the rest of the world at risk. When China first launched its zero COVID plan, experts thought the virus might peter out someday. Now they predict it will circulate forever, and they warn that whatever versions like after Omicron and BA.2 won’t necessarily be “milder.” The more people in places like China who remain unvaccinated or undervaccinated, the more chances the virus has to evolve.

“We haven’t even seen a new, major variant yet, but there are too many reasons to believe that is likely in the months ahead,” Dr. Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institutewrote Wednesday in the Guardian. “Add to all this is what is happening in China, which has fully relied on a zero-Covid policy, resulting in very little natural immunity, and vaccines that have weak efficacy against Omicron. Now this country is facing major outbreaks in two of its most populous cities, Shanghai and Shenzhen, and undoubtedly the whole country will be affected. We learned in 2019 that what happens in China doesn’t stay in China.”


How are vaccination rates affecting the latest COVID surge? Check out this explainer from Yahoo Immersive to find out.

See the date in 3D.  Explore the latest COVID-19 data in your browser or scan this QR code with your phone to launch the experience in augmented reality.

‘Holy grail’ trialled by NHS could save thousands of lives by detecting cancer before symptoms show

A blood test for the over-50s being trialled by the NHS could prevent as many as one in ten cancer deaths in the UK.

The Health Service is conducting a world-first trial of the test, which aims to detect more than 50 types of cancer before symptoms show.

Although there are no results yet, researchers are optimistic that it has ‘enormous’ potential. Based on modeling, they believe the ‘Holy Grail’ test could prevent about 10 percent of cancer deaths, of which there are around 167,000 in the UK every year – nearly 460 a day.

The breakthrough could save around 16,000 lives annually.

Hundreds taking part in the trial of 140,000 volunteers are already being referred for a scan or colonoscopy as a result of the test’s findings. It is expected around half of those referred could have cancer.

If the trial proves successful, the test will be rolled out to a million more people as early as 2024, then possibly nationwide.

If the test were made available across the UK and offered to around 18 million adults aged 50 to 79, roughly 130,000 more people without symptoms would receive cancer screening referrals each year, assuming one in a hundred test positive as investigators expect.

British researchers believe the cancer test – by US company Grail – could be a ‘turning point’ in how the NHS tackles the disease.

Currently there are almost three million urgent cancer referrals annually, based on figures for the year to February, so the test would increase referrals by around 5 percent.

The researchers point out that many of these referrals would happen anyway, but at a later date.

The NHS is grappling with a post-Covid backlog of cancer referrals, and leaked data this month showed more than 10,000 people are waiting for treatment three months after being referred for suspected cancer. But it is hoped this situation will have changed by the time the test is potentially rolled out.

Professor Peter Sasieni, one of three lead investigators of the trial from King’s College London, said: ‘The potential of this blood test to dramatically cut the number of people who die from cancer is enormous. Of course, if the test is rolled out by the NHS, we will see some increase in short-term workload from the slightly higher number of referrals for cancer.

‘But in the long run, there should also be many savings for the NHS, such as a reduction in the need for chemotherapy and expensive drugs for advanced cancers.’

The blood test, called the Galleri test, picks up fragments of DNA linked to cancer which are shed into the blood, and can suggest which part of the body it has come from. It revolutionises the way cancer is detected, as most patients are currently diagnosed only after developing symptoms.

Based on modeling, they believe the ¿Holy Grail¿ test could prevent about 10 per cent of cancer deaths, of which there are around 167,000 in the UK every year¿ nearly 460 a day

Based on modelling, they believe the ‘Holy Grail’ test could prevent about 10 per cent of cancer deaths, of which there are around 167,000 in the UK every year – nearly 460 a day

It will become clear only after the NHS trial results are published whether the test can prevent around 10 percent of all cancer deaths, as the modeling suggests.

But the test provides hope for hard-to-detect cancers such as ovarian and pancreatic, which are usually picked up far too late.

The NHS trial, led by Cancer Research UK, King’s College London Cancer Prevention Trials Unit and Grail, saw people aged 50 to 77 sent letters of invitation.

Those with a signal of cancer in their blood were referred for a scan within a two-week target, which is expected to apply if the blood test is offered routinely. Researchers are not yet revealing what proportion of those referred to hospital in the NHS trial turned out to have cancer, but previous studies suggest it could be 30 to 70 percent.

By comparison, less than 10 percent of people referred to hospital following breast or bowel cancer screening will actually have cancer. Half of people in the NHS trial did not have their blood sample tested. Their rate of advanced cancer will be compared with that of those given the test. If it is significantly higher, that suggests the test has prevented people developing an advanced cancer.

The 130,000 referrals in the UK using the cancer blood test are based on people aged 50 to 79 using it, if 70 percent of them accepted the invitation.

Early results from the trial will be shared with the NHS in 2024.

Rose Gray, of Cancer Research UK, said: ‘Research like this is crucial for making progress against late-stage cancers, and giving more patients the chance of a good outcome.’

‘This test could prevent suffering like mine’

It took four years for Hollywood star Olivia Williams to learn her symptoms were the result of a very rare pancreatic cancer.

The British actress saw ten doctors across three continents as she worked on various films, but a tumor the size of two matchboxes in her pancreas went undiagnosed.

Now the 54-year-old, who is about to play Camilla Parker Bowles in The Crown, is championing the Galleri test to detect early signs of pancreatic cancer before symptoms show.

Miss Williams, an ambassador for Pancreatic Cancer UK, has recovered from the disease, which is less deadly than the most common type. But she had half her pancreas, spleen and gallbladder removed, and must now take pills to digest food.

The mother-of-two said: ‘I spent four years suspecting something was wrong but not being sure. This test is the end of that, it’s a gift from the gods. It will prevent that second blow so many of us suffer – that not only do you have cancer, but that it has spread.’