Covid-19 study ‘could lead to treatments for future viruses’

Researchers studied the virus that causes Covid-19 using a ‘pioneering approach’

Scientists studied the life cycle of Covid-19 from various institutes. Andrew Milligan/PA via PA Wire
Scientists studied the life cycle of Covid-19 from various institutes.

A “pioneering” new study may pave the way for more treatments for Covid-19 variants and fresh coronaviruses in the future, scientists have suggested.

Research has provided “crucial new insights” into the life cycle of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, “revealing new pathways to target the virus within host cells”.

The team of scientists – led by the Universities of Glasgow and Oxford and the Rosalind Franklin Institute – studied the key viral RNA molecule which is “at the heart” of the life cycle of viruses like SARS-CoV-2.

“As we move into the next stage of the pandemic, developing treatment options that can work against new variants is a priority.”

Dr Alfredo Castello

Researchers studied the SARS-CoV-2 RNA in lung epithelium cell lines using a “pioneering approach” to see how it interacted with different proteins.


The findings, published in the journal Molecular Cell, showed that the viral RNA interacted with dozens of cellular proteins, many of which have “great potential for new therapeutic approaches against Covid-19”.

Dr Alfredo Castello, from the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Virus Research (CVR) said the results were “extremely exciting” and could “pave the way to identify the best potential therapeutic targets”.

PA Graphics via PA Wire
Deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK. See story HEALTH Coronavirus Deaths. Infographic PA Graphics. An editable version of this graphic is available if required. Please contact

He said: “With just the first available inhibitor we tested in cell models, we were able to inhibit the virus replication, so the possibility for new treatment options is positive.

“Moreover, in parallel studies we found that many of these proteins also participate in the infection of other RNA viruses, so there is potential for discovering treatments with broad-range of action and that could be ready should a new coronavirus emerge.


“As we move into the next stage of the pandemic, developing treatment options that can work against new variants is a priority.

“We believe that we can do so by targeting the host cell instead of the virus.

“Such therapies would not only be important to treat vaccine-scaping variants, but may also have potential for new coronaviruses that may arise in the future.

“The next stage would be to continue the characterisation of these critical host-virus interactions; identify the best potential target for treatment; and in future study how they work in animal models.”

The study is called Global analysis of protein-RNA interactions in SARS-CoV-2 infected cells reveals key regulators of infection. It is funded by the Medical Research Council.

Medal for Duncan Scott in Tokyo as Team GB take Gold and Silver

The 24-year-old Glaswegian swimmer becomes the first Scot to win a medal at Tokyo 2020.

Adam Davy via PA Wire
Tokyo: Team GB swimmers share the podium.

Swimmer Duncan Scott has won Silver Medal in the Olympic men’s 200m freestyle.

The 24-year-old becomes the first Scot to win a medal at Tokyo 2020 as Team GB teammate Tom Dean lifted the Gold.

Dean and Scott were third and sixth respectively at the halfway stage of Tuesday morning’s race before going up a gear in a thrilling contest.

Dean edged out Scott by a wafer-thin 0.04 secs, with Brazil’s Fernando Scheffer third.


Gold for Dean and silver for Scott, who was heavily fancied after qualifying quickest in the semi-finals the day before, was the first time since the 1908 Games that two male British swimmers have finished on the podium together.

Scott said of his GB team-mate: “I’m buzzing for Deano, he’s had a really strange 18 months with Covid twice and a monster PB at trials but to see him move it on again and win gold is phenomenal.

“Our best possible outcome is one-two and we delivered on that, and I got a PB in the final as well so I’m really happy, can’t complain at all.”

The Glaswegian won two silvers at Rio 2016 and has claimed golds at world, European and Commonwealth level, but he acknowledged this runner-up finish in the Japanese capital was the high point of his singles career.


“It’s probably the biggest medal of my individual career, yeah,” he added. “I’ve won Commonwealth and European but I wouldn’t say that’s matched by an Olympic medal, the pinnacle of our sport, so yeah I’m delighted.”

Both Dean and Scott have little time to revel in their achievements as they are expected to compete in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay heats on Tuesday.

Not since Henry Taylor and Thomas Battersby in the 1500m freestyle, and Frederick Holman and William Robinson in the 200m breaststroke, in London more than a century ago have two British men been in the top-three in a swimming event.

Dean, who won Team GB’s second swimming gold of these Games, after Adam Peaty on Monday, said: “Duncan and I are great mates,”

“Duncan’s an absolute class act. I’ve looked up to him for a long time. To share a pool and a podium with him is amazing. Going one-two with another Brit on the podium. What more could you ask for, really?”

Medical cannabis clinic ‘making sick people smile again’

More than 1000 people with chronic pain have asked Scotland first medical cannabis clinic for help.

STV News

More than 1000 people have asked Scotland’s first medical cannabis clinic for help in the three months since it opened.

Sapphire Medical Clinics, in Stirling, is the first surgery of its kind approved by regulators to offer patients safe access to medical cannabis.

It works with patients who have exhausted all other treatment options for diagnosed conditions causing chronic pain or anxiety.

‘Cannabis is my saviour’


Shonagh Soutar, 44, from Tayport, Fife, was one of the clinic’s first patients. She vapes cannabis-based medication to ease the symptoms of ME and Fibromyalgia.

“It’s instant relief for my health conditions,” said Shonagh, who’s suffered chronic pain for more than seven years.

“Cannabis is my saviour – my go to.”

Shonagh told STV News that before she could get prescribed cannabis-based medication through the clinic, she bought the drug illegally.


She said: “It made you feel like a criminal, having to look for it elsewhere.

“Now I feel like a massive weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It’s just what I’ve got to do to get a better quality of life.”

‘People are smiling for the first time in years’

NHS doctor Wendy Holden, who works with Sapphire Medical Clinics, said the products – in the shape of flowers, oils and capsules – had proven transformational for many patients.

She said: “Every single day of my NHS life, I see people with chronic pain and the NHS has very little to offer them, unfortunately, because conventional medicines are often not very effective.

STV News
Patients can be prescribed medical cannabis as a last resort.

“Being able to prescribe medical cannabis, I’ve just seen a completely different side to medicine really, and I’m seeing people with chronic pain who are smiling for the first time in years.”

Medical cannabis was legalised in 2018, but isn’t given out on the NHS, meaning patients need to be prescribed privately at a cost of around £130 per month.


Sapphire Medical Clinics told STV News it had been contacted by around 1200 people since it opened.

Regulatory body Healthcare Improvement Scotland said medical cannabis should only be prescribed to people with genuine conditions as a last resort.

“After careful consideration and assessment of their application, Healthcare Improvement Scotland has registered Sapphire Medical as an independent clinic,” it said in a statement.

“Our registration process is stringent and there are strict requirements which clinics must meet in order to complete the process.

“When a clinic is registered with Healthcare Improvement Scotland, it is also then subject to regular inspection, which helps to reassure the public that they are maintaining high standards of care.”

Action group in fresh bid to secure future of McVitie’s factory

Pladis told staff In May that it intends to close the site.

STV News
Around 468 jobs could be lost at the site in Tollcross.

A fresh proposal is to be tabled by an action group formed to help seek a viable future for the McVitie’s Factory in Glasgow.

The proposal to build a new factory on a nearby site will now be considered by Pladis, the company that owns the brand.

Staff were told in May of plans to close the site in Tollcross, putting 468 jobs at risk.

Finance secretary Kate Forbes said she hopes that senior management will study the proposals put forward by the Pladis Action Group.


“The Action Group have together worked at pace to identify and explore options to secure the future of these crucial manufacturing jobs in Glasgow,” she said.

“I would hope and expect the senior management at Pladis to now study the proposals carefully, and to engage with the Action Group on them in a constructive and thorough manner.”

“We believe the proposal offers Pladis everything it needs to maintain manufacturing in the East End of Glasgow for the next generation.”

David Hume, GMB Scotland organiser

Councillor Susan Aitken, Glasgow City Council leader, said: “The partners across the Action Group have worked tirelessly over the last few weeks to pull this counter-proposal together.

“This proposal is compelling and would secure a future for Pladis in the city. I trust they will give it the consideration it deserves.”


GMB Scotland organiser David Hume said the proposal represents months of hard work.

“We believe the proposal offers Pladis everything it needs to maintain manufacturing in the East End of Glasgow for the next generation, ensuring employment and opportunity for the local community that depends on it,” he said.

“It also represents months of hard work on behalf of the unions and action group representatives to support the workforce, who are fighting so hard for their futures.

“It sets out the way forward and everyone should be positive that Pladis will look favourably on it.”

STV News
McVitie’s workers protested outside the Scottish Parliament.

Unite Industrial Officer Pat McIlvogue said the proposal put forward to build a new factory will produce efficiency savings.

“The trade unions along with the Scottish Government and other key stakeholders have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to bring forward a commercially viable alternative to the closure of the McVitie’s plant at Tollcross,” he said.

“We believe that the proposal put forward to build a new factory on a nearby site will produce efficiency savings and make this one of the most advanced biscuit manufacturing sites in the UK.


“Unite is asking that Pladis the owners of the factory study and positively engage with us on this proposal because we believe that everyone can win from this most importantly the hundreds of jobs at stake in the local community.”

Husband tells of loss of wife, son and friend in loch tragedy

Waris Ali tried to save Edina Olahova, Rana Haris Ali and Muhammad Asim Riaz from drowning at Loch Lomond on Saturday.

Contributed via Waris Ali

A widower has told how he tried in vain to save his drowning wife in a tragedy that also claimed the lives of his nine-year-old son and a family friend.

Edina Olahova, 29, and Rana Haris Ali, nine, and Muhammad Asim Riaz, 41, died after getting into difficulty in the water near Pulpit Rock at Loch Lomond on Saturday evening.

Waris Ali said they had stopped at the beauty spot as they headed home from Skye.

The children were on a pier and went into the water thinking it was shallow but it was “too deep” and they “went under”.


He told Sky News his wife saw the children drowning and the adults jumped in to save them.

He spoke of trying to save his wife: “I managed to stay afloat and head towards the shallow water, but when I got out, I saw my wife’s hands outside and just her eyes out of the water.

“I took my shirt off and threw it to her so she could grab it, but she couldn’t.

“I then went to go and get help.”


He said a Scottish man saved Mr Riaz’s son but could not rescue the other three from the water.

“I was trying to save my wife for some time, took my shirt off but realised I couldn’t do anything to save her.

“And the guy who came couldn’t save anyone else, just Asim’s son,” he said.

The seven-year-old boy was was taken to hospital.

Three further people died in separate incidents in Scotland’s waters at the weekend, making it one of the worst in memory for the fire service, according to a senior officer.

An 11-year-old boy died in a river at Stonehouse, a 13-year-old boy lost his life in water at Hazelbank in Lanark while a 16-year-old boy died at Balloch at the south end of Loch Lomond on Friday.

Speaking about the deaths on Monday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “These are just heartbreaking human tragedies.


“Like everyone else across the country my thoughts are with the families of those who are grieving loved ones right now.”

She added: “These tragedies are a reminder that the beauty of some of our waters often belies the dangers they hold.

“Even if you think you’re a good, strong swimmer, if you don’t understand the current or the depths or the impact of sudden cold water on the body, then you can be putting yourself in real danger.

“I think we’ll want to reflect on what more can be done to educate young people about the dangers as well as the beauties of water.”

Police Scotland deputy chief constable Will Kerr urged people to be aware of the “float for your life” campaign, which urges swimmers who find themselves in difficulty to float as much as possible and call for help.

He said: “We’re realistic and practical, we’re not going to stop everybody going into the water in this beautiful weather.

“Please, please, we want to avoid any more of these terrible tragedies.

“Just be very, very careful when you do so and make sure you know the advice on how to protect yourself and save yourself if you do get into trouble.”

Alasdair Perry, a deputy assistant chief officer for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “This is the worst weekend in relation to incidents of this nature I can remember and I’d like to offer my condolences and those of everyone at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to all those affected by this weekend’s tragic events, and in particular to the friends and families of all those involved.”

Simon Jones, the executive lead for water safety at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, added: “It’s been a terrible week in the park and across other parts of Scotland as well for tragic events.

“Our deepest sympathies go out to friends and family.

“We can’t remember a period like this, many of our staff were closely involved and it’s been very traumatic for people involved.”

Mr Perry urged those swimming in open water to adhere to safety advice, not to leave young people unattended and to ensure they do not swim after consuming alcohol.

Whisky lorries to run on ‘green biogas’ made from leftovers

Glenfiddich said production waste from its distillery will be converted into fuel.

Glenfiddich via PA Media
Glenfiddich: Delivery fleet will run on 'green biogas'.

A leading single malt Scotch whisky company says its entire delivery fleet will run on “green biogas” created from distillery residues.

Glenfiddich said production waste from its distillery in Dufftown, Moray, will be converted into an “ultra-low carbon fuel gas that produces minimal carbon dioxide and other harmful emissions”.

Glenfiddich, which means “valley of the deer” in Gaelic, said it has already installed fuelling stations and its adapted lorries will soon be on Scotland’s roads running on the low-carbon fuel.

The technology needed to convert waste into fuel was developed by its parent company, William Grant and Sons, a spokesman said.


Stuart Watts, William Grant and Sons’ distilleries director, said: “It has taken more than a decade for Glenfiddich to become the first distillery to process 100% of its waste residues on its own site, then to be the first to process those residues into biogas fuel to power its trucks.

“We are proud of these renewable energy breakthroughs in our industry as we scale up the de-carbonising benefits of this closed-loop process across our entire transport fleet.”

Mr Watts said the biogas reduces carbon dioxide by more than 95% and other greenhouse emissions nearly completely compared to diesel and other fossil fuels.

Each lorry will displace up to 250 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, the environmental equivalent of planting up to 4000 trees, said Glenfiddich.


The company was founded by William Grant in 1887 with the help of his nine children and a stonemason and describes itself as the “world’s most-awarded single malt”.

William Grant and Sons said it plans to make its technology available across the Scottish whisky industry “to support the decarbonisation of transport in line with UK and Scottish governments’ net-zero targets”.

Under current plans, Scotland is aiming to become a net-zero society by 2045, five years before the rest of the UK.

More on:

Beach toilets closed after flushed wipes caused blockages

Public toilets at Yellowcraig, East Lothian, became blocked as people ignored the rules and flushed wipes down the loos.

LDRS via East Lothian Council
Yellowcraig: Public toilets became blocked as people ignored the rules and flushed wipes down the loos.

Visitors to a busy beach resort were left crossing their legs at the weekend after the toilets had to be closed because of blockages.

Public toilets at Yellowcraig, East Lothian, became blocked as people ignored the rules and flushed wipes down the loos.

By mid-morning on Saturday, countryside rangers had closed the toilets and took to social media to urge people to visit neighbouring beaches and coastal spots to seek relief.

East Lothian is seeing record numbers of visitors to its beaches this summer and nearly doubled its team of rangers to help monitor issues at the sites.


For the second weekend running more than 200 parking fines were issued at the beach car parks.

At Yellowcraig the toilets remain closed as contractors are being brought in to unblock the system which operates with a septic tank.

There was angry reaction to the news the toilets had been closed with some people on social media reporting people urinating in the car park and emptying chemical toilets from campervans down open drains.

One local resident said: “It’s not just tourists that are restricted, it’s locals as well. We have had enough of this, this is literally spoiling summer for families.”


East Lothian Council said that the issues at the toilets had been caused by people failing to dispose of wipes properly.

A spokesperson said: “The toilets at Yellowcraig were closed on Saturday mid-morning due to a high volume of wipes which had blocked the sewage system.

“Contractors are currently in attendance undertaking the remedial work and we hope to reopen soon.

“Due to its rural location the system operates on a septic tank so it is especially important that wipes and other unsuitable materials are not put down toilets.

“There have been extensive national campaigns by Scottish Water and others highlighting that wipes should not be flushed and we would ask all users to follow this essential guidance.”

By local democracy reporter Marie Sharp

Thunderstorms and floods to hit Scotland as heatwave ends

The Met Office said yellow weather warnings are in place for most of the country this week.

Animaflora via IStock
The Met Office said a yellow thunderstorm warning is in place for most of the country.

Scotland warned of thunderstorms and rain over the next four days following weeks of hot weather.

The Met Office said a yellow thunderstorm warning is in place for most of the country for 12 hours from noon on Tuesday

Yellow rain warnings also follow for all of Wednesday and the early hours of Thursday morning.

Experts have warned of potential damage to buildings as a result of floodwater, lightning strikes, hail and strong winds.


The Met Office also warned of delays and cancellations to public transport as well as potential disruption on roads.

It comes after areas across the central belt were hit with close to 30C heat last week.

STV Weather reporter Philip Petrie said: “Unfortunately the fine dry and sunny conditions many of us experienced last week and over the weekend are taking a bit of a turn this week as low pressure takes control of the weather. This will keep things feeling changeable and unsettled for the rest of the week.

“Already today the Met Office have issued a couple of weather warnings to start the new week. Tomorrow we have a warning for Thunderstorms – this is due to the fact we are retaining the warm conditions from last week but adding the effects of low pressure, so we are likely to see some heavy, persistent and thundery downpours.


“The warning area covers a large part of the country, stretching down from the Highlands to Dumfries and Galloway and parts of the Borders. We could see some local transport disruption and flooding.

“Come Wednesday a rain warning comes into effect as the rainfall totals begin to top up – again we could see some localised flooding and travel disruption but the warning area covers a smaller part of the country.

“Of course the rain may be welcome by some, after all the dry and humid conditions lately it may be some relief for farmers and those who struggle in the heat.

“The unsettled conditions look set to continue for the rest of the week, and it is likely the Met Office will issue further warnings, so we will be keeping an eye out.”

Over half of over 75’s think they’re not vulnerable to heatwaves

Three in 10 people in Scotland also believe the country is not hot enough to suffer adverse effects from heatwaves

Xurzon via IStock
Nearly half (47%) of Scots have experienced negative effects from hot weather in the UK.

More than half of over-75s in Scotland do not consider themselves vulnerable to heatwaves, according to a poll.

Researchers for the British Red Cross said their findings show the risks posed by heat are not matched by public concern.

Three in 10 people in Scotland also believe the country is not hot enough to suffer adverse effects from heatwaves, the charity added.

It comes as much of Scotland has baked in temperatures of 25C and higher for the past week, sparking water shortage and UV exposure warnings.


Nearly half (47%) of Scots have experienced negative effects from hot weather in the UK, including headaches, dizziness and heat rash, said the British Red Cross.

The charity expressed concern that high-risk groups such as the elderly do not see themselves as vulnerable from unusually hot weather, and its survey indicated 57% of people 75 and over did not feel unsafe.

In its report, Feeling the Heat, the charity called for more investment in adapting to a changing climate, including changes to buildings to manage heat levels and promoting green spaces.

Climate advisers have already warned that the UK Government is failing to ensure the UK can cope with the worsening risks of rising temperatures and extreme weather.


Urgent action is needed to deal with the threat of overheating in homes, power cuts and damage to nature, crops and food supplies from already inevitable global warming, the Government’s advisory Climate Change Committee said last month.

The Met Office last week issued its first amber extreme heat warning in England, similar to those issued when heavy rain or snow is forecast.

Met Office head of civil contingencies Will Lang said: “The UK is getting hotter. As a result of climate change, heatwaves are becoming longer and more extreme, and many people’s health and wellbeing will continue to suffer as a result.

“We already know that certain groups are more at risk from extreme heat, including people aged over 75, adults with underlying health conditions, children and babies, as well as people living in top floor flats and in built-up urban areas where temperatures are higher.

“With more hot conditions likely this summer, it is so important that the public understands the risks that heatwaves can bring, and to improve awareness of heat risk among the general public.”

Marie Hayes, Scotland director for independent living and crisis response at the British Red Cross, said: “Despite what many think, heatwaves in Scotland can impact us all.

“Every year people struggle with their health and wellbeing. Health and care services also see an increase in demand, transport is interrupted, and employers experience reduced productivity.


“But heatwaves don’t need to be deadly. From checking on your neighbours to providing first aid, simple early actions can keep you, your family and friends safe and well during hot weather.”

Opinium interviewed 2000 UK adults online from June 11-15, 168 of whom lived in Scotland, with data weighted to be nationally representative of UK adults by age, gender, region and social grade.

FirstGroup boss Matthew Gregory quitting amid investor anger

US hedge fund Coast Capital called for Matthew Gregory to resign after it said the sale of First Student and First Transit was too cheap.

First Bus via First Bus website
FirstGroup: Matthew Gregory will leave after the group’s annual general meeting.

The boss of bus and rail firm FirstGroup is quitting after less than three years in the post amid investor anger over the sale of two US businesses.

FirstGroup said chief executive Matthew Gregory will leave after the group’s annual general meeting on September 13.

It comes just a day after FirstGroup’s biggest shareholder, New York-based hedge fund Coast Capital, called for Mr Gregory to resign after it said the £3.3bn sale of First Student and First Transit in the US was too cheap and poorly timed at the peak of pandemic disruption.

Chairman David Martin – a former chief executive of rival transport group Arriva – will become executive chairman until a successor is appointed.


Mr Gregory said he was leaving to “move on to new opportunities”.

Just over six in 10 shareholder votes were in favour of the deal to offload the US divisions in May following opposition from the group’s two biggest shareholders.

Although enough for the sale to go through, the vote was far from an endorsement of the plan.

FirstGroup has tried to appease shareholders by announcing it will return £500m to them from the sale of the US school bus and transit divisions.


But this was not enough to win over disgruntled Coast.

The announcement of Mr Gregory’s departure came as FirstGroup revealed underlying annual pre-tax profits slumped to £39.4m from £109.9m previously after a tough year for public transport amid the pandemic.

FirstGroup said it was “encouraged” by improving demand for bus travel as restrictions ease, with passenger numbers now at about 60% of pre-pandemic levels.

On a statutory basis, the group swung to a pre-tax profit of £115.8m in the year to March 27 from losses of £299.6m the previous year.

FirstGroup confirmed plans to also sell its Greyhound coach business in the US continue, but said the sale had been impacted as the division has taken a knock from the pandemic.

Mr Gregory said: “Having delivered the substantial portfolio rationalisation strategy and with FirstGroup now positioned to emerge from the pandemic as a resilient and robust business, I have decided the time is right for me to move on to new opportunities.”

Mr Martin said Mr Gregory had delivered on the plan to streamline the group and had “adeptly responded to the unprecedented challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic”.


He said: “Matthew has made a significant contribution to FirstGroup since joining in 2015, initially as chief financial officer and then stepping forward to take up the post of chief executive in 2018.”

You're up to date

You've read today's top stories. Where would you like to go next?