Friday, February 29, 2008
That's what I thought when I read the tagline on a ScienceDaily article on using oil-based nasal nanoemulsion vaccines. They were first reported in 2003 to vaccinate against influenza, and it's since been tested for HIV and smallpox. They used gp120 to vaccinate against HIV and killed whole vaccinia virus for smallpox. In both, they "were able to promote an immune response." Apparently, for HIV, if mucosal immunity is induced, immunity is conferred for the genital mucosa as well. Crazy. Their HIV vaccine also induced cellular immunity and neutralized antibody to HIV virus isolates--
The smallpox vaccine with nanoemulsion-killed vaccinia would be safer than the current live-attenuated vaccine. This vaccine induced mucosal, antibody, and Th1 cellular immunity. \
Results from both smallpox and HIV vaccine were published this past moth in Clinical Vaccine Immunology and AIDS Research Human Retroviruses, respectively.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
There's recently been a Hep C outbreak from a Endoscopy center. Apparently, a sedative used was contaminated and 40000 people need to be tested! Go listen to CNN's impeccable Dr. Sanjay Gupta for more details: http://cosmos.bcst.yahoo.com/up/player/popup/?rn=3906861&cl=6691836&ch=4226723&src=news
Love and happiness,
I found this cool article about one of the first (the first?) worldwide public health study that looks at infectious disease outbreak regions. They studied past outbreaks and where they occurred from all over. We know that zoonotic jumps/recombinations are most likely to cause 'new' diseases, or epidemics. They found that the regions that had high population density, warm climate, and wildlife bio-diversity were the regions that were most vulnerable to new outbreaks of infectious disease. This makes India and China especially vulnerable countries!
Not surprisingly, they found that, "The study has indicated that disease surveillance resources are misallocated, with the best efforts limited to rich countries." (DUH!) I personally really appreciated this global study because its looking at the world as a whole--like maybe the rich countries actually have a real obligation to watch out for the poorer countries. 20 years ago (not that I knew anything back then) this would be been out of the question. Maybe we're all moving in a better direction?
Quoted from the study:
An international research team analysed 335 outbreaks of new infections over the past six decades and found that more than 60 per cent were zoonotic diseases, caused by microorganisms jumping from animals, mostly those in the wild, into humans.
These include HIV from chimpanzees, the deadly Ebola virus from fruit bats, the West Nile virus from common sparrows and avian influenza (H5N1 virus) from wild ducks.
“We found infectious diseases strongly linked to human population density, changes in population, rainfall, and wildlife bio-diversity,” said Kate Jones, a team member and research fellow at the Zoological Society of London. “These links allow us to predict where future outbreaks are most likely to occur,” Jones told The Telegraph.
This new vaccine, MVA85A, is being developed as a booster for BCG, and has been in testing on humans for six years now. It is currently being tested in South Africa on young children and adults with HIV. If successful here, it will go into a phase 3 trial next year. However, it still needs at least 8 more years of trials before it can be considered for a license.
Here's the link to the article! http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7266559.stm
The official CDC recommendation will increase the number of government-subsidized shots supplied to families who cannot afford to pay and may result in more insurance companies covering payment for the shots.
The move to vaccinate schoolchildren is an effort to prevent spread from children to adults and elderly persons, of which about 35,000 die annually in the US from flu complications.
Check out the article on the front page of today's (2/28/08) San Jose Mercury News.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Scientists at USAMRIID have announced the creation of a promising combination vaccine for Ebola and Marburg which has been shown to be 100% efficacious in cynomolgous macaques. This breakthrough vaccine for filoviruses is composed of virus-like particles (VLPs) and is totally non-infectious in nature-- just like the Gardisal HPV vaccine! Monkeys treated with the VLP based vaccine were then challenged with lethal doses of virus and none developed signs of infection while all of the control animals succumbed to the agents of hemorrhagic fever.
VLPs are likely now to be the leading candidate for human filovirus vaccine development due to their high safety, efficacy, and immunogenicity. This is a truly exciting development and the primary researcher, Dr. Kelly Warfield, hopes that the vaccine will be in human trials in a matter of years.
Check out the news release here.
Check out a more scientifically rigorous description of the work here.
yours in filo-mania (!),
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Carraguard, a gel substance made from seaweed, was being investigated as a possible microbicide for protection against HIV. Results of the trial, though, found that those that used the carraguard got HIV at the same rate as those that used the control gel. A number of explanations have arisen, including that the women in the experimental group didn't use the gel as much as they were supposed to. The experimental group did not have any serious complications from the gel, prompting investigation into carraguard as a base into which antivirals could be added in the future.
I hope this year's vaccine is a better match than last year's.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Click here for more info
In response to the outbreak, the Ministry of Health as well as local Municipal Administrations of Industry and commerce have recently implemented avian influenza prevention measures, including contact tracing. Despite these measures, however, a 30th case of avian influenza is suspected in a women from Guangdong province in southern China (which is where SARS originated).
*Note that I believe this is a DIFFERENT microbicide than the "Carraguard" that others are expressing disappointment about.
A national task force coordinated the response to this outbreak, comprising MoH, WHO and other international partners in the field. These forces set up an active surveillance system for the detection of cases and follow-up of their contacts.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Don't know if it all makes sense, but according to many a published article on the site and the claim of randomized placebo, double blind tests... it works? I'll have to follow up on her and see if it really does.
Friday, February 22, 2008
There's not much to read but you can check out the article yourself:
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Thought this was cool. It uses data from the last 65 years and includes (but is not limited to) Nipah virus, SARS, H5N1, Ebola and West Nile. It shows that 65% of the emerging diseases are caused by animal reservoirs.
To read more click here
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
HMPV is a paramyxovirus of the order mononegavirales. It was first isolated in 2001, and has been determined to be the second most common cause (after respiratory syncytial virus) of lower respiratory infection in young children. Young children, elderly and immunocompromised individuals are at risk from more severe disease caused by HMPV.
For more info, check out: http://www.swbooster.com/index.cfm?sid=109677&sc=1
Like many other popular cold/flu prevention products, Airborne’s effectiveness has no basis in hard evidence. I hadn’t realized this, but it was created by a schoolteacher less than 10 years back who didn’t want to keep getting sick from her students. In 2006, it brought in $100 million in sales.
I’m staring at a tube of Airborne I have sitting on my desk right now, thinking about why I got it, and it was because everyone else swore that it worked for them.
What’s in it? 17 herbs, vitamins, and minerals, including zinc, vitamin C, lonicera, forsythia, and Echinacea, all things we discussed in class as being old wives’ remedies but not having gone through scientific trials. This article also calls them out on having a bit too much vitamin A—taken over a long period of time, the recommended dose would result in vitamin A overdose and cause bone deterioration and dry skin.http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-airborne18feb18,1,2611321.story?ctrack=4&cset=true
This is even cooler because my webpage/timeline is on prions, and damn, are they scary...
At least 160,000 people have been vaccinated in the last few days, but people are already rioting at health centers. Paraguay's neighbor, Brazil, is in the midst of a yellow fever outbreak as well.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
1st death from the disease since massive floods began ravaging the
country in November . The teenager who died was from the
northwest part of Bolivia, among the areas hardest hit by the
torrential rains that have killed 53 people nationwide. [The floods
occurred in the northeastern Bolivian tropical lowlands, not the
With more than 100 cases of dengue fever recorded around the country,
authorities have issued health warnings, fearing epidemics due to
Monday, February 18, 2008
HealthMap | Global disease alert map
1. Gardasil...one less
2. de-stress!!! (exercise, sleep, etc.)
Fujifilm bought out Toyama Chemicals and is developing what hopefully will become a major competitor for Tamiflu in the next couple of years. This could be very helpful, considering that there is proven resistance to Tamiflu AND there probably won't be enough to go around. (The business folks are betting on the bird flu epidemic--a sure bet according to Dr. Bob.)
out in a long time. In addition, the CDC has not yet published official recommendations on use of the vaccine
in MMWR and there is no program to subsidize its use to low-income persons like there is for childhood vaccines. The vaccine also requires a cold chain, so people picking up theirs from the pharmacy are likely to unintentionally thaw it before finding someone that can inject them. One doctor from Vanderbilt is looking into the possibility of training pharmacists in administering the shot to avoid at least this problem.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Click here for more
A stressful life may make it tougher to fight the virus which causes the majority of cervical cancer cases, say scientists.
Women in this study with higher levels of perceived stress were more likely to have an impaired immune response to HPV16. Even though we all know that correlation is not causation, it's an interesting study nonetheless.
Full article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7247653.stm
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Further studies must be done to ensure that the modified Ebola strain does not revert to the lethal wild-type virus.
Who knows, those virophiles interested in Ebola may be able to study the virus in a BSL2 lab in the near future!
Friday, February 15, 2008
On 04 February 2008, H5N1 influenza was found in a euthanized mute swan in a nature reserve called Radipole Lake in Weymouth City on the Dorset coast of UK. So far 10 swans on the Dorset coast have been infected. This incident is concerning because close to the site of outbreak, there is a popular feeding place for mute swans as well as one lakeside restaurant.
Check Pro-med listings for more data.
p.s. if you click the link above the text, you'll see a photo of two mute swans
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Acambis vaccine is made from cell culture vs. the calve-skin-freezedry method of Dryvax.
Good news since Dryvax is no longer being produced...
Researchers at McGill University have found a way of tipping the battle between host and virus in our favor. By knocking out two genes that suppress expression of IFN in mice, they were able to make the animals effectively immune to influenza virus (Orthomyxoviridae), encephalomyocarditis virus (Picornaviridae), VSV (Rhabdoviridae), and Sindbis virus (Togaviridae). This technique has a lot of promise in reducing our
susceptibility to viral infection, especially because they found no adverse side effects in the mice that
underwent the therapy. Obviously, you can't knock out genes in humans, but you can effectively
silence them by destroying their protein product or their transcription factors. It is important to realize that this therapy probably wouldn't be useful in protecting against
DNA viruses, because it is the dsRNA that IFN responds to. Furthermore, many of the
symptoms of viral infection (i.e., myalgia) are due to the IFN response, so you might be
miserable anyway, but you won't be infectious! It's understandable how these less serious
complications were overlooked in the study mice: you can't exactly ask a mouse how they're
McGill University (2008, February 14). Genetic Breakthrough Supercharges Immunity To Flu And Other Viruses. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 14, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080213133330.htm
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Monday, February 11, 2008
Basically, a study showed that cholesterol levels were much higher in neuronal cells infected by a prion than normal cells. Levels of cholesterol have been implicated in many neurological diseases.
Click here to see more
Full story can be found at http://www.medpagetoday.com/InfectiousDisease/Vaccines/tb/8280.
HSV-2 is especially prevalent in areas with high rates of HIV infection. While many individuals infected with HSV-2 are unaware they have the virus given its inapparent state, HSV-2 can be a risk factor for HIV transmission. Sores and breaks in the skin can make it easier for HIV transmission to occur and active HSV-2 infection attracts specific immune cells to the genital region that are easily infected with HIV.
How did they ethically conduct this study investigating HIV transmission? Participants received wither a twice-daily, 400 mg dose of acyclovir tablets or placebo tablets and were extensively counseled on how to avoid exposure to HIV and were supplied with condoms. The difference in the experimental and control groups’ incidence of HIV was not statistically significant (3.9% HIV incidence rate in the acyclovir treated individuals and 3.3% incidence rate in the placebo group).
NIAID scientists identified the cell adhesion molecule known as integrin alpha 4 beta 7 as another potentially important HIV receptor. HIV has been found to bind to several other immune cell receptors – the primary receptor being the CD4 molecule. CCR5 and CSCR4 serve as co-receptors used by HIV to enter target cells.
During the early stages of HIV infection, the virus invades and replicates in the immune cells of the gut - the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). The gut is then rapidly depleted of CD$+ T cells, thus triggering the process that leads to AIDS. The natural function of alpha 4 beta 7 is to direct T cells to the GALT. NIAID researchers fond that the gp120 protein (part of the HIV envelope) binds to integrin alpha 4 beta 7 on CD4+ T cells, which facilitates the formation of stable junctions between neighboring cells. This ability allows HIV to readily gain access to uninfected cells!
Read more on what NIAID scientists are up to at http://www.nih.gov/news/health/feb2008/niaid-10.htm.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
This might explain why SO MANY people on campus have gotten sick! Even Dr. Bob who got his flu shot is at RISK!
Remember the bet that scientists make with predicting the next year's flu? Yeah, well they lost it. Maybe this time the flu vaccine is just a way for them to make money, haha.
Sta"5 friends with tested influenza"cie
Residents of Kuilong village under Tamei sub-division of Tamenglong
district are in a dire plight since the outbreak of a highly
infectious disease (something like malarial typhoid) which has
claimed a life since November 2007 last year and has infected
members of nearly every household in the village and its surrounding area.
The disease which started spreading in Kuilong village since November
last year has so far claimed one life while 35 patients are
seriously ill from the disease which remains a mystery to the
Even though doctors at the Catholic Medical Hospital, Koirengei,
believe it to be malarial typhoid from the symptoms, there has been
no confirmation of the same and besides the state authorities are yet
to investigate into the matter.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
So the gist of the article is that this bee virus, which is killing "a billion bees" is triggering a huge environmental change that can result in a greater threat than climate change. The thinking is that since bees are extremely important in pollinating crops, more than a third of the world's crops would be killed off. Food plants like onions, cabbage, almonds, apples, soya beans, berries and nuts are susceptible. Moreover, plants important to the clothing industry like cotton and flax are also at risk.
Best quote in the article- "If bees disappear, mankind will not have much time left."
Gave me a new perspective on human-bee interactions
Have a great afternoon all,
Friday, February 8, 2008
"A new arenavirus in a cluster of fatal transplant-associated diseases" 2008 in NEJM by G Palacios et al, p 1-8
The article and references can be found here:
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Check out the CROI 2008 website at retroconference.org. Under the webcast and podcast tab, you can access copies of the lectures/talks given.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
This study came about when 3 children became infected between 1993 and 2000 without any known route of transmission. What did they all have in common? Pre-chewed food! In two cases, the mother was HIV-positive and transmitted the virus to her child, while in the third case -- with an HIV-negative mother -- the virus was passed from an infected great aunt who had been caring for the infant.
The researchers said that in two cases, the caregiver was known to have had bleeding gums or sores in the mouth at the time she was pre-chewing food for the baby. The third caregiver could not remember such lesions. Also, one of the infants was teething and had had oral candidiasis during the period when she was given pre-chewed food, the researchers said. The combination of lesions in the mouths of the children and their HIV-positive infected caregivers might have allowed viral entry.
Two of the children are still living, while a third died of AIDS.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Despite efforts to give pregnant women antiretrovirals prior to labor and during labor as well as giving the antiretrovirals to the baby being born have helped decrease the amount of kids that will acquire HIV infection during the birthing process. However, a problem still exists in that many kids that are born uninfected are becoming infected by contaminated breast milk. In fact, breast feeding is responsible for nearly half (48%). Since breast milk may be the only form of nutrients available to young infants in developing nations (for many reasons including limited access to sanitized water to mix in with formula, limited finances, cultural taboos, etc.), it may be too steep a tradeoff to risk stopping breast feeding practices to prevent potential HIV infection (if knowledge of having HIV is even available).
Researchers have recently found that extending the use of antiretrovirals in infants and breast feeding mothers for a longer amount of time (up to 6 months) can DRASTICALLY reduce the incidence of post-natal transmission of HIV. Specifically in a study in Malawi, out of the infants who were given antiretrovirals (Nevirapine) for the first 10 weeks of life, only 3.1% became infected from contaminated breast milk...compared with the control group which only received one dose of nevirapine and one week's worth of AZT which experienced 10% infection with HIV.
How it is ethical to have a control group in an HIV treatment study, I am not sure.
Apparently, a report in the Journal of Clinical Oncology is reporting that not only is HPV causing cancer of the upper throat in men, but its causing rates EQUAL TO CANCER RATES CAUSED BY TOBACCO AND ALCOHOL! It's suggested that this is due to an increase in rates of oral sex, although this is not proven. Unfortunately the article does not state which strain of HPV is causing the cancer, however, it states that one of the strains in Merck's Guardasil vaccine protects against oral cancer. Just another reason why this vaccine needs to be approved for men!
We usually talk about the similarity of chimp viruses to human viruses as it relates to human risk for disease. But I found an interesting article that actually reports human viruses, specifically Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus and Human Metapneumavirus. Chimps in the Ivory Coast have been dying of the diseases, adding another threat to the already endangered animals. It sort of puts an interesting spin on the idea of zoonoses, huh?
The scientists pulse a laser of a certain frequency and they can mechanically "break" the viral capsids. They've had a hard time finding which frequencies to use; it's a lot of trial and error, but they've found a frequency of 60 gigahertz is effective for the satellite tobacco mosaic virus.
A new way of inactivating viruses for vaccine development? Pretty cool stuff!
Check out the article here.
Monday, February 4, 2008
Researchers "found that fragments of prostatic acidic phosphatase isolated from human semen form tiny fibres known as amyloid fibrils, which they call Semen-derived Enhancer of Virus Infection or SEVI. Those fibrils capture HIV particles and help them to penetrate target cells, thereby increasing the infection rate by up to several orders of magnitude."
Powerful stuff! Talk about viral evolution adapting to its environment. :)
The work was published in Nature magazine, but I couldn’t find the article. I’m guessing it just came out…
read about it here for now.
In a normal influenza A virus, amantadine works by blocking the M2 surface protein. Essentially, amantidine acts like a cork, preventing the flow of protons into the virus, which is necessary for infection. However, new mutations in the M2 protein are changing its shape so that amantadine does not fully block the flow of protons, and the virus is still infectious.
The Penn researchers have discovered a new channel next to the amantadine pocket which is conserved in all influenza A viruses. This might be another avenue for antiviral medications, but no research in the development of such medications, or their efficacy have been conducted.
The article can be found at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-01/uops-prd013008.php.
erected a quarantine zone and begun slaughtering poultry after
suspected cases of bird flu.
Last month [January 2008], the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu was
found in a village about 350 km west of Samsun, which lies on
Turkey's Black Sea coast.
In January 2006, bird flu killed 4 children in a small town in
eastern Turkey after the virus spread to more than 1/3rd of Turkey's
Authorities in Turkey, the 1st country outside east and Southeast
Asia where humans have contracted the virus, had declared the country
bird flu-free in April 2007.
Also, resistance to ivermectin is emerging in onchoceriasis! NOT GOOD.
Onchocerciasis in an infection caused by Onchocerca volvuls, a fun parasite nematode worm that is transmitted to humans by a Simulium black fly. Fly larvae develops in fast-flowing rivers, and those infected suffer from severe skin lesions in addition to eye damage that can lead to irreversible loss of site. This is why onchocerciasis is also called “river blindness.” 99% of the 37 million people infected live in sub-Saharan Africa.
Ivermectin is the only treatment known for onchocerciasis control. It can kill the parasite embryos circulation in patients, temporarily interrupting the nematode’s reproduction.
On February 2, 2008, the first confirmed fatal case of YF was reported in the Federal District.
Read on at http://www.atarde.com.br/brasil/noticia.jsf?id=832920 (but the site is not in English…). Check out ProMed for the English version.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
To Read More Click Here
Saturday, February 2, 2008
The World Health Organization says that people should not be worried because, “Influenza Type A has been circulating for many years. It’s not likely to cause a pandemic.”
Read more at:
Friday, February 1, 2008
See national geographic for more info: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/02/080201-AP-bat-die.html