• 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.

  • SuperbugsNevada woman killed by superbug resistant to every known antibiotic

    A 70-yer old woman in Nevada has died after a superbug which infected her proved resistant to every available type of antibiotic. The woman was already infected in India, where she had an extended stay, and was hospitalized there several times. She returned to Nevada in August 2016. She was admitted to a hospital shortly after her return, but died a month later after treatment with twenty-six different antibiotics was futile.

  • Public healthOld antibiotics, new tools to combat bio agents

    More than 100 antibiotic compounds have been discovered since Alexander Fleming invented penicillin in 1928, but none within the past thirty years. Now a joint venture is exploring a new class of tetracycline that could combat biological threats to our warfighters.

  • Public healthInfluenza: The search for a universal vaccine

    By Ian Setliff and Amyn Murji

    No one wants to catch the flu, and the best line of defense is the seasonal influenza vaccine. But producing an effective annual flu shot relies on accurately predicting which flu strains are most likely to infect the population in any given season. It requires the coordination of multiple health centers around the globe as the virus travels from region to region. Once epidemiologists settle on target flu strains, vaccine production shifts into high gear; it takes approximately six months to generate the more than 150 million injectible doses necessary for the American population. With current technology, there may never be a “one and done” flu shot. And epidemiological surveillance will always be necessary. However, it is not inconceivable that we can move from a once-per-year model to a once-every-10-years approach, and we may be within just a few years of being there.

  • Pathogens$1.87 million for biothreat vaccine research

    CUBRC, Inc. two weeks ago announced that CUBRC’s Biological and Medical Sciences team, in collaboration with EpiVax, Inc., has received a four-year grant worth $1.87 million from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) within the Department of Defense (DoD). CUBRC, EpiVax, and scientists at the University of Florida will be investigating immune cells from patients that were previously infected with Burkholderia pseudomallei to understand how this bacterium evades the human immune system and use that information to engineer an effective vaccine.

  • EbolaFinal trial results confirm Ebola vaccine provides high protection against disease

    Since Ebola virus was first identified in 1976, sporadic outbreaks have been reported in Africa. But the 2013-2016 West African Ebola outbreak, which resulted in more than 11,300 deaths, highlighted the need for a vaccine. An experimental Ebola vaccine was highly protective against the deadly virus in a major trial in Guinea, according to results published in The Lancet. The vaccine is the first to prevent infection from one of the most lethal known pathogens, and the findings add weight to early trial results published last year.