• Universal vaccineBill to jump-start universal flu vaccine efforts

    As the nation grapples with a long and unrelenting flu season rivaling by some measures the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, a group of U.S. senators last week unveiled a proposal to invest $1 billion in research over the next 5 years to create a universal flu vaccine that would provide lifetime protection against a range of influenza strains. The announcement came just as U.S. researchers released an interim report card on the flu vaccine’s performance so far this season, which again showed disappointingly low effectiveness against H3N2, this season’s dominant strain.

  • Truth decayBelief in conspiracy theories associated with vaccine skepticism

    People who believe Princess Diana was murdered or that John F. Kennedy’s assassination was an elaborate plot are more likely to think that vaccines are unsafe, despite scientific evidence to the contrary, according to new research. “People often develop attitudes through emotional and gut responses,” said the lead researcher. “Simply repeating evidence makes little difference to those who have antivaccination attitudes.”

  • SuperbugsWHO: Widespread, high levels of antibiotic resistance across the globe

    New surveillance data released earlier this week by the World Health Organization (WHO) reveals widespread and in some cases high levels of antibiotic resistance across the globe in the most common bacterial infections. “The report confirms the serious situation of antibiotic resistance worldwide,” Marc Sprenger, MD, director of the WHOs Antimicrobial Resistance Secretariat, said in a press release. “Some of the world’s most common—and potentially most dangerous—infections are proving drug-resistant.”

  • Public healthVaccine attitude rises and falls with ideology

    Political views and a person’s trust in government play a role in whether or not they get vaccinated, according to a new study. The results suggest a person’s ideology directly impacts who they trust, allowing the person to selectively credit information related to vaccine risks and benefits in ways that reflect their ideology. A person with strong conservative political views is less likely to vaccinate than a person with strong liberal political views, according to the study, as is someone who holds lower levels of trust in government medical experts.

  • Superbugs$1 billion reward proposed for development of new antibiotics

    An international group tasked with researching and developing new economic models to promote antibiotic development is calling for a $1 billion market entry reward for new antibiotics, saying the reward could significantly boost the number of new antibiotics coming to market over the next thirty years. The proposal was made by an international consortium of public health organizations, academic institutions, and pharmaceutical companies supported by the European Medicines Initiative. The $1 billion market entry reward is one of four incentives proposed by the group to stimulate research and development (R&D) for new antibiotics and ensure that critically needed antibiotics are used sustainably and continue to be accessible. “Without incentives, some scientifically promising treatments would probably never make it to patients,” says one expert.

  • SuperbugsSynthetic virus tackles antimicrobial resistance

    Antibiotic resistance has become an ever-growing global challenge, with more than 700,000 people across the world dying from drug resistant infections every year. As a result, antibiotic discovery has fallen well behind its historical rate, with traditional discovery methods being exhausted. Scientists have engineered a brand new artificial virus that kills bacteria on first contact. This new virus is built using the same geometric principles that determine structures of naturally occurring viruses, known as polyhedral capsids.

  • VaccinationSocial media trends can predict vaccine scares tipping points

    Analyzing trends on Twitter and Google can help predict vaccine scares that can lead to disease outbreaks, according to a new study. Researchers examined Google searches and geocoded tweets with the help of artificial intelligence and a mathematical model. The resulting data enabled them to analyze public perceptions on the value of getting vaccinated and determine when a population was getting close to a tipping point.

  • SuperbugsManaging antibiotics insufficient to reverse resistance

    Researchers have discovered that reducing the use of antibiotics will not be enough to reverse the growing prevalence of antibiotic resistance for some types of bacteria. Besides passing along the genes bestowing antibiotic resistance to their offspring, many bacteria can also swap genes amongst themselves through a process called conjugation. There has long been a debate, however, as to whether this process occurs fast enough to spread through a population that is not under attack by antibiotics.

  • Drug resistanceMassive increase in antimicrobials use in animals to lead to widespread drug resistance in humans

    The amount of antimicrobials given to animals destined for human consumption is expected to rise by a staggering 52 percent and reach 200,000 tons by 2030 unless policies are implemented to limit their use, according to new research. represent an alarming revision from already pessimistic estimates made in 2010, pushed up mostly by recent reports of high antimicrobial use in animals in China.

     

  • 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.

  • Public healthUniversal public coverage of 117 essential medicines would improve access, save billions

    A list of 117 essential medicines — including antibiotics, insulin, heart medication, anti-depressants, oral contraceptives, and more — accounted for 44 percent of all prescriptions written in Canada in 2015, and up to 77 percent of all prescriptions when therapeutically similar medications were considered. Researchers calculated that publicly funding these 117 essential medicines could cover the cost of nearly half of all prescriptions in Canada, removing financial barriers for Canadians while saving $3 billion per year.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.