Viruses and pathogens

  • SuperbugsRearming penicillin for the twenty-first century

    Penicillin, one of the scientific marvels of the twentieth century, is currently losing a lot of battles it once won against bacterial infections. Scientists, however, have just reported a new approach to restoring its combat effectiveness, even against so-called “superbugs.”

  • SuperbugsPromising agents defeat superbug defenses

    In the fight against “superbugs,” scientists have discovered a class of agents, called metallopolymers, which can make some of the most notorious strains vulnerable to the same antibiotics that they once handily shrugged off.

  • University of Florida Clinical Toxicology Online Graduate Course. Chemical Weapons of Mass Destruction. Arm yourself with knowledge.
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  • Public healthDrug-resistant TB emerges as a global threat

    Drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) has become a global threat,with multidrug resistant TB causing about 500,000 new cases every year. Experts say the problem requires cooperation among governments, pharmaceuticals, and academics to develop effective treatments.

  • BioterrorismPositive results reported from single dose anthrax vaccine studies

    Immunovaccine and Pfenex announced positive results from anthrax challenge studies in rabbits using Pfenex’s mutant recombinant Protective Antigen (mrPA) formulated with Immunovaccine’s DepoVax delivery system. Data demonstrates 100 percent protection against a lethal anthrax challenge in animals after vaccination with as little as 0.33 microgram of mutant recombinant Protective Antigen. Dose response observed in the first twenty-eight days following vaccination.

  • Food safetyBacteriophage “cocktail” eradicates 99 percent of E. coli in meat, spinach

    Treating food products with select bacteriophages — viruses which target and kill bacteria — could significantly reduce concentrations of E. coli, a new study shows. An injection of bacteriophages — also known informally as “phages” — nearly eradicated a toxin-producing strain of E. coli in contaminated spinach and ground beef, in some cases decreasing E. coli concentrations by about 99 percent. Interest in using phages as antibacterial treatments has increased with the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

  • BioterrorScientists learn how Marburg virus grows in cells

    Infections with Marburg virus lead to death in as many as 90 percent of those infected. Once restricted to Africa, cases of the virus have been identified in travelers from Europe and the United States, making effective prevention and treatment a top biodefense priority. Study suggests targeting molecular interaction of virus and host protein may arrest this lethal virus.

  • SuperbugsInfection control: why doctors over-prescribe antibiotics

    By Alex Broom

    The modern antibiotic era began with the discovery of penicillin in 1928, which led to dramatic improvements in our ability to treat common infections. This was probably the most important discovery in the history of modern medicine. And for a long time, antibiotics reigned supreme in the battle against previously deadly bacterium. The dramatic improvements of the twentieth century, however, are now being undone by overuse and misuse of antibiotics. Resistant superbugs and poor use of antibiotics are together leading us toward an “antimicrobial perfect storm” in the next few decades. This may sound apocalyptic but it’s simple epidemiology: increasing resistance combined with decreasing antibiotic options will worsen to the point where we will have no capacity to treat previously highly treatable infections.

  • EpidemicsGuinea Ebola outbreak spreading to Liberia, threatening Sierra Leone

    The Ebola outbreak in Guinea – the biggest in Africa in seven years — has spread to neighboring Liberia and is now also threatening Sierra Leone. At least eighty-six cases and fifty-nine deaths have been recorded across Guinea, the West African country’s health ministry said Monday. The UN Children’s Fund said the outbreak had spread to the capital, Conakry, although most of the cases so far have been in the country’s south-east provinces. Health officials have not yet been able to determine the subtype of Ebola infecting people in Guinea. Knowing the subtype would give them a better idea of the fatality rate, which, for Ebola, can range from 25 to -90 percent.

  • SuperbugsAntibiotic-resistant bacteria on the rise among U.S. children

    Infections caused by a specific type of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are on the rise in U.S. children, according to a new study. While still rare, the bacteria are increasingly found in children of all ages, especially those 1-5 years old, raising concerns about dwindling treatment options. The researchers found that the prevalence is increasing in a resistant type of bacteria, which produces a key enzyme, extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL), which thwarts many strong antibiotics, making them ineffective.

  • DetectionMicrobial detection array detects plague in ancient human remains

    Scientists who study past pandemics, such as the fourteenth century Black Death, which killed an estimated 30 to 50 percent of the European population from 1347 to 1351, might soon be turning to an innovative biological detection technology for some extra help.

  • SuperbugsKilling superbugs dead with “molecular drill bits”

    Tuberculosis (TB) is a well-known, treatable disease, but resistant strains are cropping up. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 170,000 people died from multidrug-resistant TB in 2012. In response to drug-resistant “superbugs” that send millions of people to hospitals around the world, scientists are building tiny “molecular drill bits” which kill bacteria by bursting through their protective cell walls.

  • BioterrorismFaster anthrax detection could speed bioterror response

    The fall 2011 anthrax attacks cost $3.2 million in cleanup and decontamination. At the time, no testing system was in place that officials could use to screen the letters. Currently, first responders have tests that can provide a screen for dangerous materials in about 24-48 hours. Now, researchers have developed a new method for anthrax detection that can identify anthrax in only a few hours.

  • BioterrorismPositive safety results Marburg drug candidate announced

    Marburg hemorrhagic fever is a severe and potentially fatal disease in humans first recognized in 1967. It is caused by an RNA virus of the Filoviridae family and is understood to be endemic to Africa. The Marburg virus is classified as a Category A bioterrorism agent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and in 2006 was determined by DHS to be a material threat to national security and public health. There are currently no treatments for Marburg virus infection beyond supportive care. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Sarepta Therapeutics, a developer of innovative RNA-based therapeutics, announced positive safety results from a Phase I multiple ascending dose study of AVI-7288 in healthy volunteers. AVI-7288 is the company’s lead drug candidate for the treatment of Marburg virus infection.

  • Public health25 children in California stricken with polio-like illness

    Twenty-five children in California have been exhibiting a “polio-like syndrome,” leading to paralysis in one or more of their limbs. “What’s we’re seeing now is bad. The best-case scenario is complete loss of one limb, the worst is all four limbs, with respiratory insufficiency, as well. It’s like the old polio,” say a a pediatric neurologist. Scientists say that samples from two of the children tested positive for enterovirus 68, a rare virus linked in the past to severe respiratory illness.

  • EpidemicsVisually displayed early warning system for epidemics

    Cholera has been all but eradicated in Europe, but this bacterial, primarily waterborne disease still claims thousands of lives in Africa every year. In an EU-funded project, scientists are examining the effects various environmental factors have on cholera epidemics in Uganda, and have developed a software architecture for early warning systems that compares environmental and health data and presents the results graphically, allowing for the creation of visually displayed early warnings of epidemic breakouts.