Material from deadly pathogens triggers alerts directly, and could speed detection
Early detection is key to slowing outbreaks of Ebola, such as the one currently spreading across west Africa that is estimated to have infected almost 1000 people, according to the latest World Health Organization report. A molecular computer could one day simplify analysis of biomedical assays like those used to diagnose Ebola, researchers say. And a new prototype device can display a fluorescent letter in the presence of nucleic acid sequences from the Ebola virus or the closely-related Marburg virus: ‘E’ for Ebola or ‘M’ for Marburg.
Ed Rybicki's insight:
Or "H" for hype, possibly? But I would like to see that.
MERS has infected at least 850 people since it first emerged two years ago.
Saudi scientists have found gene fragments of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus in air from a barn housing an infected camel and say this suggests the disease may be transmitted through the air.
MERS, a serious respiratory illness caused by a virus known as a coronavirus (CoV), has infected at least 850 people since it first emerged two years ago and killed at least 327 of them, according to latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
The vast majority of human cases have been in Saudi Arabia, but isolated MERS cases have been reported across Europe and in Asia and the United States in people linked who have recently traveled in the Middle East.
Scientists are not sure of the origin of the virus, but several studies have linked it to camels and some experts think it is being passed to humans through close physical contact or through the consumption of camel meat or camel milk.
However, in this latest study, published in the online journal of the American Society for Microbiology mBio, scientists said the detection of the virus in air samples was concerning and needed to be followed up.
Ed Rybicki's insight:
Remind me NOT to go into any camel barns in the near future....
Dramatic advances in mother-to-child transmission and treatment that can safely reduce TB incidence are among recent successes that are helping in the fight against HIV.
South Africa has one of the highest rates of HIV in the world, and HIV prevalence continues to rise every year; nevertheless, the health services, supported by researchers, have had some outstanding successes in containing the disease.
Even the annual rise in prevalence, as reported recently by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), hides a good-news story: the enormous success of the antiretroviral treatment (ART) programme means that people with HIV are living longer, which increases the total number of those living with HIV.
The number of people newly infected with HIV is decreasing. We have come a long way since the dark days of HIV denial, when nearly 750 people died from AIDS every day (as recounted by Edwin Cameron in his recent memoir, Justice). Currently, there are just over 2.0 million adults in South Africa on free treatment, according to the HSRC – the biggest ART programme in the world – and UNAIDS reported that there were 100 000 fewer AIDS-related deaths in 2011 than in 2005.
There are 180 currently recognized species of RNA virus that can infect humans, and on average, 2 new species are added every year. RNA viruses are routinely exchanged between humans and other hosts (particularly other mammals and sometimes birds) over both epidemiological and evolutionary time: 89% of human-infective species are considered zoonotic and many of the remainder have zoonotic origins. Some viruses that have crossed the species barrier into humans have persisted and become human-adapted viruses, as exemplified by the emergence of HIV-1. Most, however, have remained as zoonoses, and a substantial number have apparently disappeared again. We still know relatively little about what determines whether a virus is able to infect, transmit from, and cause disease in humans, but there is evidence that factors such as host range, cell receptor usage, tissue tropisms, and transmission route all play a role. Although systematic surveillance for potential new human viruses in nonhuman hosts would be enormously challenging, we can reasonably aspire to much better knowledge of the diversity of mammalian and avian RNA viruses than exists at present.
Rotaviruses (RV) are ubiquitous, highly infectious, segmented double-stranded RNA genome viruses of importance in public health because of the severe acute gastroenteritis they cause in young children and many animal species. They are very well adapted to their host, with symptomatic and asymptomatic reinfections being virtually universal during the first 3 years of life. Antibodies are the major arm of the immune system responsible for protecting infants from RV reinfection. The relationship between the virus and the B cells (Bc) that produce these antibodies is complex and incompletely understood: most blood-circulating Bc that express RV-specific immunoglobulin (Ig) on their surface (RV-Ig) are naive Bc and recognize the intermediate capsid viral protein VP6 with low affinity. When compared to non-antigen-specific Bc, RV-Bc are enriched in CD27+ memory Bc (mBc) that express IgM. The Ig genes used by naive RV-Bc are different than those expressed by RV-mBc, suggesting that the latter do not primarily develop from the former. Although RV predominantly infects mature villus enterocytes, an acute systemic viremia also occurs and RV-Bc can be thought of as belonging to either the intestinal or systemic immune compartments. Serotype-specific or heterotypic RV antibodies appear to mediate protection by multiple mechanisms, including intracellular and extracellular homotypic and heterotypic neutralization. Passive administration of RV-Ig can be used either prophylactically or therapeutically. A better understanding of the Bc response generated against RV will improve our capacity to identify improved correlates of protection for RV vaccines.
It’s official: The Ebola epidemic in West Africa is spreading faster than anyone can deal with it. There are 518 deaths already, with plenty more expected as governments scramble to provide an effective response.
Dennis Gonsalves and I had lunch at Zippys awhile back with Lawrence Kent of the Gates Foundation. Lawrence told us the Gates Foundation is sponsoring GM plant research to help the poorest of the poor. It's a significant project, though just a small percent of the whole Gates Foundation effort.
I asked him about commercial banana research. He said they don't do anything with commercial projects. Oh shucks, I thought.
But Dennis Gonsalves is working with Lawrence on a virus-resistant cassava project for Africa. Can you imagine: Local Kohala boy Dennis Gonsalves working with the Gates Foundation to help save lives of the poorest of the poor in sub-Saharan Africa? Wow.
I wrote about Hillary Clinton talking about the State Department moving from emergency feeding of the poor to GM plants that provide people with solutions they need to sustain themselves. Replacing emergency feeding programs with GM solutions gives farmers biotech tools to enhance their food production and vitamin content and more.
It's kind of like the old saying: Give a man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.
Golden rice is an example of this kind of humanitarian effort. Another is the vitamin A-enhanced banana developed in north Queensland, Australia that was recently announced.
Ed Rybicki's insight:
I've also had lunch with Dennis Gonsalves, as it happens, as well as hearing him announce the first transgenic papaya in Geneva, NY, in 1991. Nice to hear it's still doing well!
Test vaccine for dengue fever seen as promising Raw Story A prototype vaccine for dengue that two years ago yielded lukewarm results has proved more effective after wider trials and is a potential arm against the disease, researchers said Friday.
GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — The athletes' village at the Commonwealth Games welcomed 1,000 more competitors from 25 countries on Monday, and none of them should have to worry about a stomach virus that affected staff at the site last week.
Games officials said an outbreak of norovirus, a highly contagious gastrointestinal illness which affected 53 employees, was under control. A temporary toilet facility identified as a likely source of the infection was shut down.
An international team of experts, including Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan from the University of Cape Town (UCT), has discovered a new predatory dinosaur with very long feathers that sheds light on how dinosaurs flew. The animal has a long-feathered tail that is believed to have been useful in decreasing descent speed and assuring safe landings.
Ed Rybicki's insight:
Love dinosaurs - almost as much as zombies. And viruses.
HIV-1 replicates well in humans but not in atypical host species, which has limited the development of animal models for AIDS. This study now shows that HIV-1 adapts to replicate efficiently and cause AIDS in pig-tailed macaques. The animals were inoculated with HIV-1 and treated with a CD8-specific antibody to cause transient CD8+ T cell depletion. Serial animal-to-animal infection resulted in persistently high viraemia and decreased CD4+ T cell counts in the blood and gut-associated lymphoid tissue, as well as immune activation and Pneumocystispneumonia, which is indicative of HIV-1-induced pathogenesis and progression to AIDS. Host adaptation of the virus was conferred by four amino acid deletions in the envelope gene, which is associated with co-receptor switching, and mutations in Vpu, which contribute to the ability of the virus to antagonize the host restriction factor tetherin. Further development of this animal model will facilitate the study of HIV-1 therapies and vaccines.
Influenza A viruses are zoonotic pathogens that infect a variety of host species including wild aquatic birds, domestic poultry, and a limited number of mammals including humans. The error-prone nature of the virus's replication machinery and its ability to transmit among multiple hosts lead to generation of novel virus variants with altered pathogenicity and virulence. Spatial, molecular, and physiological barriers inhibit cross-species infections, particularly in the case of human infection with avian viruses. Pigs are proposed as a mixing vessel that facilitates movement of avian viruses from the wild bird reservoir into humans. However, the past decade has witnessed the emergence of highly pathogenic and virulent avian H5 and H7 viruses that have breached these barriers, bypassed the pig intermediate host, and infected humans with a high mortality rate, but have not established human-to-human transmissible lineages. Because influenza viruses pose a significant risk to both human and animal health, it is becoming increasingly important to attempt to predict their identities and pathogenic potential before their widespread emergence. Surveillance of the wild bird reservoir, molecular characterization and documentation of currently circulating viruses in humans and animals, and a comprehensive risk assessment analysis of individual isolates should remain a high priority. Such efforts are critical to the pursuit of prevention and control strategies, including vaccine development and assessment of antiviral susceptibility, that will have a direct impact on the well-being of humans and animals worldwide.
Parents worried about having their children vaccinated take note: a new study published Tuesday in the journal Pediatrics has found that (Measles/Mumps/Rubella vaccine is NOT dangerous (recent publication in Pediatrics)
A new study involving half a million female subjects in Denmark contradicts previous reports of a possibility that HPV vaccine, which is given to prevent genital warts and certain cancers, causes serious blood clots.
Combining two types of polio vaccine, including one that is injected rather than given orally, appears to give better immunity and could speed efforts to eradicate the crippling disease, scientists said on Friday.
British and Indian researchers said the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), which is given by injection, could provide better and longer lasting protection if given alongside the more commonly used live oral polio vaccine (OPV).
Serious polio outbreaks in Asia, Africa and Europe over the last 10 years have hampered efforts to wipe out the disease, caused by a virus that replicates in the gut and can be passed on through contact with infected faeces.
Polio invades the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis within hours - and the World Health Organization's repeated warning is that as long as any child remains infected with polio, children everywhere are at risk.
Most vaccination campaigns - including emergency ones that were started last year covering 20 million children in Syria and neighboring countries - use multiple doses of OPV to boost immunity among those at risk.
"Because IPV is injected into the arm, rather than taken orally, it's been assumed it doesn't provide much protection in the gut and so would be less effective at preventing faecal transmission than OPV," said Jacob John, an associate professor at the India's Christian Medical College, who led the study.
But his team's research, which covered 450 children from a densely populated urban area in Vellore, India, found that where they already had a level of immunity due to OPV, the injected vaccine actually boosted their gut immunity.
"It looks as if the strongest immunity can been achieved through a combination of the two," he said.