• SuperbugsSupercomputer simulations help develop new approach to tackle antibiotic resistance

    Supercomputer simulations at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have played a key role in discovering a new class of drug candidates that hold promise to combat antibiotic resistance. Researchers combined lab experiments with supercomputer modeling to identify molecules that boost antibiotics’ effect on disease-causing bacteria.

  • EbolaPeople with Ebola may not always show symptoms

    A research team determined that 25 percent of individuals in a Sierra Leone village were infected with the Ebola virus but had no symptoms, suggesting broader transmission of the virus than originally thought. These individuals had antibodies to the virus, suggesting they had been infected at one time — yet said they had had no symptoms during the time of active transmission in the village. Theresearch confirms previous suspicions that the Ebola virus does not uniformly cause severe disease, and that people may be infected without showing signs of illness.

  • view counter
  • MalariaUltra-long acting pill releases daily doses of medicine for a month

    Imagine swallowing a pill today that continues releasing the daily dose of a medicine you need for the next week, month, or even longer. Investigators have developed a long-acting drug delivery capsule that may help to do just that in the future. To test the capsule’s real-world applications, the team used both mathematical modeling and animal models to investigate the effects of delivering a sustained therapeutic dose of a drug called ivermectin, which is used to treat parasitic infections such as river blindness. Ivermectin has an added bonus of helping keep malaria-carrying mosquito populations at bay.

  • EbolaDuring 2013-16 epidemic, Ebola adapted to better infect humans

    By the end of the Ebola virus disease epidemic in 2016, more than 28,000 people had been infected with the virus, and more than 11,000 people died from Ebola virus disease. Researchers have identified mutations in Ebola virus that emerged during the 2013-2016 Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa that increased the ability of the virus to infect human cells. “It’s important to understand how these viruses evolve during outbreaks,” says one researcher. “By doing so, we will be better prepared should these viruses spill over to humans in the future.”

  • SuperbugsFirst cases of drug-resistant Candida auris fungal infection reported in U.S.

    Thirteen cases of Candida auris (C. auris), a serious and sometimes fatal fungal infection that is emerging globally, have been identified in the United States, according to CDC. . C. auris is often resistant to antifungal drugs and tends to occur in hospitalized patients. In June 2016, CDC issued a clinical alert describing the global emergence of C. auris and requesting that laboratories report C. auris cases and send patient samples to state and local health departments and CDC.

  • Zombie invasionChicago would quickly succumb to a zombie invasion: Study

    In the unlikely event of the zombie apocalypse, it would take less than two months for the undead to take control of the city, says a new study. Using a computational model developed to study the spread of less fictional diseases such as MRSA and Ebola, scientists found that it would take only sixty days for two million Chicagoans to be zombified.

  • Zika virusBacteria-infected mosquitoes to combat Zika spread in South America

    Mosquitoes infected with naturally occurring Wolbachia bacteria will be released in large urban areas in Colombia and Brazil. The new field trials will assess the effectiveness of the method for reducing new cases of Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases. Transferring the bacteria into Aedes mosquitoes reduces their capacity to transmit viruses to humans.

  • SuperbugsCombatting antibiotic resistance

    CDC has awarded more than $14 million to fund new approaches to combat antibiotic resistance, including research on how microorganisms naturally present in the human body (referred to as a person’s microbiome) can be used to predict and prevent infections caused by drug-resistant organisms. The initiative, which also provides funding for state health departments and other partners, implements the tracking, prevention, and antibiotic stewardship activities outlined in the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria.

  • BioterrorismNew candidate vaccines against the plague show promise

    The plague of Black Death infamy has had the power to strike fear in people since the Middle Ages — and for good reason. Once someone begins to show symptoms, the disease progresses very quickly and is almost 100 percent fatal without prompt treatment. Antibiotic-resistant Y. pestis strains have been isolated from plague patients and can be engineered for use as a bioweapon. Researchers have developed new potential vaccines that protect animals against the bacteria that causes the deadly plague.

  • ZikaHow Congress is failing on Zika

    By Ana Santos Rutschman

    Three times Congress has taken up legislation to fund the continuing response to the Zika outbreak. Three times the bill, which would allocate $1.1 billion to fight the disease, has fallen short of attracting bipartisan support. While Congress delays action on Zika, the number of infected people keeps climbing. As of mid-September, there were over 3,000 reported cases in the fifty states and close to 18,000 when you count in U.S. territories like Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. One thing the Zika crisis has made clear is that solving emerging disease outbreaks increasingly involves navigating treacherous political waters. Congress’ lack of understanding of the real scope of voucher program – which aims to spur development of new drugs for neglected diseases — compromises efforts to find new ways of encouraging R&D in neglected diseases like Zika. Its inaction when it comes to extending funding for a major outbreak may endanger the health of thousands of Americans.

  • SuperbugsStar-shaped polymers, not antibiotics, kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria

    Currently, the only treatment for infections caused by bacteria is antibiotics. However, over time bacteria mutate to protect themselves against antibiotics, making treatment no longer effective. These mutated bacteria are known as “superbugs.” Tiny, star-shaped molecules are effective at killing bacteria that can no longer be killed by current antibiotics, new research shows. The research holds promise for a new treatment method against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or superbugs.

  • Brain-eating amoebaFlorida teen only the 4th U.S. survivor of brain-eating amoeba claiming 97 percent mortality rate

    A 16-year-old South Florida boy has defied the odds by becoming only the fourth U.S. patient to survive an attack by brain-eating amoeba.Naegleria fowleri is a microscopic amoeba commonly found in warm freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams. If the amoeba enters the body through the nose, it typically makes it way to the brain, causing an extremely rare and destructive infection of the brain. In the past fifty years, only four people in the United States have been reported to have survived out of the 138 cases reported, giving it almost a 97 percent mortality rate.

  • ZikaResearchers projecting epidemic’s spread say Zika cases are under-reported

    With the report from Florida governor Rick Scott on Monday that fourteen people in the state have been infected with the Zika virus most likely through mosquito transmission, the concern about outbreaks in the United States has intensified. A new study, along with interactive maps, provides current numbers as well projections for the number of Zika cases in the Americas through January 2017. It also provides projections for the number of microcephaly cases associated with the disease through October 2017, a date chosen to allow for the nine months of pregnancy.

  • Infectious diseaseGMOs lead the fight against Zika, Ebola and the next unknown pandemic

    By Jeff Bessen

    The shadow of the Zika virus hangs over the Rio Olympic Games, with visitors and even high-profile athletes citing worries about Zika as a reason to stay away (even if the risk is probably quite low). The public’s concerns are a striking example of the need to rapidly combat emerging infectious diseases. In the fight against Zika, public health experts have turned to what may sound like an unlikely ally: genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. To protect the public, scientists have embraced GMO technology to quickly study new health threats, manufacture enough protective vaccines, and monitor and even predict new outbreaks. With the help of GMOs, infectious disease experts have the tools to get ahead of the next outbreak, moving beyond reaction to quick detection, containment and even prevention.

  • Gene drivesThree ways synthetic biology could annihilate Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases

    By Andrew Maynard

    There are tried and tested approaches in the arsenal of weapons against the mosquito-borne disease, but to combat Zika and other mosquito-borne disease, more is needed. Gene drives, synthetic biology-based genetic engineering techniques, offer one solution by reengineering mosquitoes or obliterating them altogether. Yet we still have only the vaguest ideas of how the systems we’re hacking by using gene drives actually work. It’s as if we’ve been given free rein to play with life’s operating system code, but unlike computers, we don’t have the luxury of rebooting when things go wrong. As enthusiasm grows over the use of synthetic biology to combat diseases like Zika, greater efforts are needed to understand what could go wrong, who and what might potentially be affected, and how errors will be corrected.