Friday, March 24, 2017

New antibodies to Target the Respiratory Syncytial Virus

There are two companies Arsanis and Adimab which focus on developing monoclonal antibodies, and their most recent target has been RSV. They have just gained a worldwide license to antibodies targeting RSV which were discovered at Adimab. They discovered the antibodies using optimized yeats-based platforms. In the current plan Adimab’s panel of antibodies will be released to Arsanis which will evaluate them and select the best therapeutic. This is an important step as currently there are no therapeutics for RSV which is a very common virus in fection and is highly contagious. It is particularly dangerous to elderly and immunocompromised people. This is not the only company that has its eyes set on RSV. NovaVax has a RSV vaccine candidate in phase 3 trials and Ablynx is in phase 2a trials of a RSV inhalable nanobody for infants. We shall see which treatment method becomes standard practice in the near future.

Vander Harris



Blood test can predict life or death outcomes for patients with Ebola virus

Researchers in the University of Liverpool used studied blood samples taken from recovering patients during the 2013 West Africa Outbreak. They wanted to study gene products to align them as predictors for patient outcomes. The results were promising and could be utilized in future Ebola investigations. The blood samples were pooled into two categories those that died from acute infection and those that recovered and were free from Ebola. The analysis showed that the host immune response did not act as a predictor for the outcomes of the patients. The greatest predictor was still in accordance with past knowledge that the viral load of the virus was the greatest predictor of the whether the patients developed severe cases or recovered.

Vander Harris





Breathalyzer to see if your sniffling chap has man flu: Device uses sensors to detect the virus

A professor at University of Texas Arlington has built a device that when breathed into they are able to detect biomarkers associated with virus infection. The handheld monitor uses semiconductor sensors like those in a carbon monoxide detector. The current standard of practice for flu diagnosis is a nasal swab and using a PCR, which can take up to 30 minutes to complete. This can be cumbersome and uncomfortable. The device combines a nitric oxide and ammonia sensor, which Gouma found to be useful markers in confirming a flu infection. The device only takes seconds to complete and has the potential to catch illnesses early and be used in home settings. The device is more a proof of concept in its current rendition and clinical trials must be performed next in order to confirm the accuracy of the test.

 Vander Harris


Pet rats in Illinois, Wisconsin linked to Seoul virus outbreaks, CDC says

A rodent breeder in Wisconsin was found to be positive with a hantavirus as well as their close family member. In particular it was the Seoul virus which is not usually seen in the US and often associated with milder symptoms than hantavirus, but it can lead to renal disease. The initial cases of virus infection led to screening many other breeders in the area and six others were confirmed. This has led to health officals to implement routine screening in the area to try and catch any more cases of the virus. Also they have begun investigating and tracking where the virus may have originated from and become introduced into the Wisconsin population. Of course health officials are warning breeders to be cautious around rodents as they can carry many viruses and to wash hands frequently when working with them.

Vander Harris


Flu virus shifting east, hitting older adults hardest

Influenza season may seem like a routine occurrence every winter season has become a more pronounced problem in the Northwest this flu season. Flu activity decreased slightly but were at high level in mid February. Some states only saw isolated instance of influenza illness while most saw widespread infection. The most astonishing characteristic of this flu season has been the great number of middle age adults that have been hospitalized. The cohort with the second highest percentage of hospitalizations has traditionoally been 0-4 year olds but this year 50-64 year olds have taken the spot. With 33 per 100.000 adults 50 to 64 being hosptilazied and 21 per 100,000 children  up to age 4 getting hospitalized, scientists are wondering what is leading to this trend. While the predominant strain of flu can shift from year to year, the predominant strain this year H3N2 has been seen before and did not induce such a high rate in middle aged adults. The vaccine effectiveness has determined to be even higher at 48% overall compared to 47% in the past thus is not the cause of the increase. The good news is that the worst of the flu season is though to be over and rate of hospitalizations have begun to go down.

Vander Harris