• Flesh-eating bacteriaFlesh-eating parasites come closer, but a vaccine against them does, too

    Parasites that ulcerate the skin, can disfigure the face, and can fatally mutilate internal organs are creeping closer to the southern edges of the United States. No vaccine is yet available against Leishmania — the second-deadliest parasites in the world, topped only by malaria — but researchers have now come closer to changing that. A new experimental vaccine has immunized laboratory mice that were genetically altered to mimic the human immune system. The vaccine exploits a weakness in Leishmania’s tricky chemical camouflage, which normally hides it from the victim’s disease-fighting cells, to trigger a forceful immune response against the parasite.

  • Zika virusNew computer model assesses risk of a Zika epidemic in real-time

    New research describes a new model for assessing real-time risk of a Zika virus epidemic in the United States. The computer simulation, based on data from Texas including population dynamics, historical infection rates, socioeconomics, and mosquito density, is designed to help policymakers gauge the underlying epidemic threat as cases first appear in U.S. cities.

  • Zika virusCost of Zika outbreak in U.S. could be high

    Even a relatively mild Zika outbreak in the United States could cost more than $183 million in medical costs and productivity losses, a computational analysis suggests. A more severe outbreak could result in $1.2 billion or more in medical costs and productivity losses. “This is a threat that has not gone away. Zika is still spreading silently and we are just now approaching mosquito season in the United States, which has the potential of significantly increasing the spread,” says one researcher.

  • SuperbugsNew tools to combat superbugs

    Antibiotic resistance is a growing global health threat. So much so that a 2014 study commissioned by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom predicted that, if the problem is left unchecked, in less than 35 years more people will die from antibiotic resistant superbugs than from cancer. It is critical that researchers develop new antibiotics informed by knowledge of how superbugs are resistant to this medication.

  • SuperbugsKilling drug-resistant bacteria dead with bioinspired agent

    Microbial resistance to antibiotics and biocides is increasing, and our ability to effectively treat bacterial infections and contamination is under threat. It is important that scientists develop new antibiotic drugs, but we also need new strategies to deal with bacterial contamination that are not reliant on antibiotics. Researchers have developed a bioinspired antimicrobial treatment that can rapidly kill drug-resistant bacteria. The treatment consists of iodo-thiocyanate complexes, which are inspired by enzymes and reactive molecules produced by our immune system.

  • Zika virusAddressing the threat of Zika virus to the U.S. blood supply

    Investigators have shown that certain screening methods that detect the genetic material of Zika virus can be used to ensure that donated blood supplies remain free of the virus. The methods, called Zika virus nucleic acid amplification technology assays, demonstrated similar excellent sensitivities to assays currently used for screening for transfusion-transmitted viruses. The methods were substantially more sensitive than most other laboratory-developed and diagnostic Zika virus assays.

  • Zika virusPredicting Zika hot spots in the U.S.

    Where in the continental United States is Zika most likely to occur? Researchers puts the bulls-eye of Zika transmission on the Mississippi delta. They also predicted the virus, which is spread sexually and by bites from the Aedes aegypti mosquito, is likely to be transmitted in southern states extending northward along the Atlantic coast and in southern California.

  • BiodefenseDHS-developed software powers humanitarian project

    Software – called Krona — originally developed at the at the DHS’s National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) to sequence DNA for biodefense is now being used by Microsoft to sequence mosquito DNA in the fight against disease. Krona is a unique visualization tool that enables users to quickly analyze massive quantities of data — such as more than 100 million sequences of DNA in a single mosquito sample. Mosquitoes collect blood samples from every animal and human they bite and in turn can be an early warning indicator of disease. Microsoft is using Krona to analyze the complex DNA collected by mosquitos.

  • SuperbugsLooking for practices to thwart antimicrobial resistance

    The death last year of a woman in Reno, Nevada, from an infection resistant to every type of antibiotic available in the U.S. highlights how serious the threat of antimicrobial resistance has become. Scientists are addressing growing global concern about the spread of antimicrobial resistance in Africa, where the World Health Organization predicts that, by 2050, drug resistant tuberculosis and other bacteria could lead to the deaths of 4.15 million people each year. Their work identifying practices that lead to bacterial transmission could help save African lives and prevent the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria to the United States and other parts of the globe.

  • SuperbugsWHO issues list of bacteria for which new antibiotics are urgently needed

    WHO today published its first ever list of antibiotic-resistant “priority pathogens” – a catalogue of twelve families of bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health. The list was drawn up in a bid to guide and promote research and development (R&D) of new antibiotics, as part of WHO’s efforts to address growing global resistance to antimicrobial medicines.

  • ZikaDevice rapidly, accurately, inexpensively detects Zika virus at airports, other sites

    About the size of a tablet, a portable device that could be used in a host of environments like a busy airport or even a remote location in South America, may hold the key to detecting the dreaded Zika virus accurately, rapidly and inexpensively using just a saliva sample. While scientists across the world are scrambling to find some sort of immunization, researchers are working to develop a diagnostic tool to reduce the impact of the outbreak until a vaccine is identified.

  • SuperbugsStep closer to developing major new drug in fight against antimicrobial resistance

    Scientists have for the first time determined the molecular structure of a new antibiotic which could hold the key to tackling drug resistant bacteria. This development is an important next step in understanding how different derivatives of teixobactin function, and which building blocks are needed for it to successfully destroy drug resistant bacteria.

  • SuperbugsMalaria superbugs pose threat to global malaria control

    A lineage of multidrug resistant P. falciparum malaria superbugs has widely spread and is now established in parts of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, causing high treatment failure rates for the main falciparum malaria medicines, artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs). The emergence and spread of artemisinin drug resistant P falciparum lineage represents a serious threat to global malaria control and eradication efforts.

  • EpidemicsGlobal partnership to prevent epidemics with new vaccines launched

    A global coalition to create new vaccines for emerging infectious diseases, designed to help give the world an insurance policy against epidemics, launches today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

    With an initial investment of $460 million from the governments of Germany, Japan, and Norway, plus the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, CEPI - the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations will seek to outsmart epidemics by developing safe and effective vaccines against known infectious disease threats that could be deployed rapidly to contain outbreaks, before they become global health emergencies.

  • SuperbugsDrug-resistant “nightmare bacteria” can diversify, spread

    A family of highly drug-resistant and potentially deadly bacteria may be spreading more widely — and more stealthily — than previously thought. CRE, which tend to spread in hospitals and long-term care facilities, cause an estimated 9,300 infections and 600 deaths in the United States each year, according to the DCD.