Moving away from antibiotics in animal agriculture
The farming of livestock is facing major challenges in the 21st century. The practice of housing livestock animals such as poultry, pigs and cattle at high densities allows for disease to spread more rapidly. Indeed, the very conditions that make factory farming so profitable provide a perfect environment for disease spread. Antibiotics have been key in the battle to prevent disease at factory farms. Often, these are the same medications as those used to treat humans. An exciting area of growth is a technology known as phage therapy. Phage therapy involves using viruses known as bacteriophages to kill pathogenic bacteria. Commercial application of just one bacteriophage product could provide the spark for a highly lucrative industry. In the U.S., however, there is a challenge to the bacteriophage industry posed by the 2013 Association of Molecular Pathology vs. Myriad Genetics Supreme Court ruling. The ruling did, however, leave some room for maneuver: while the court decided that the DNA sequences were not eligible for a patent, they did conclude that cDNA, an artificial form of DNA made by scientists, would be eligible as it represents "something new" they had created and does not occur in nature. At present, there are relatively few inventions relating to phage therapies, as more companies enter the field, a legal challenge could provide the opportunity for clarification on the patentability of this type of invention.
UNSW Sydney tops ARC Research Hub grants
More than $8 million worth of ARC grants have been awarded to two UNSW projects that will involve research into the major global challenges of antibiotic resistance and recyclable waste. The two UNSW projects, which were awarded funding over five years, will tackle critical challenges facing Australians, including antimicrobial resistance and finding solutions to global waste and recycling issues.
Taiwan to begin checking all carry-on bags from Philippines for African swine fever
All travelers from the Philippines will have their carry-on baggage checked during entry to Taiwan starting Monday (Aug. 19) as a precaution against African Swine Fever (ASF). ASF cases have been detected in Bulacan and Rizal Province of the Philippines, even though the authorities have not reported the cases to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
Monkey malaria breakthrough offers cure for relapsing malaria
A breakthrough in monkey malaria research by two University of Otago scientists could help scientists diagnose and treat a relapsing form of human malaria. Dr. Adelina Chua and Jessica Ong have cracked an in vitro method for culturing a monkey malaria parasite which is closely related to the relapsing vivax parasite. "We can't culture vivax malaria, but now we can culture its almost identical sister species which gives us an unprecedented opportunity to develop and rapidly test new antimalarials," Ms Ong, a doctoral candidate from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, explains.
Thailand dengue case count nears 50,000
Thailand health officials reported an additional 4,500 dengue fever cases during the past week, which has brought the total case tally to 49,174 cases with 64 deaths, according to a Chiang Rai Times report. This has prompted the Health Minister to order preventive measures against dengue fever to include requiring the healthcare sector to report the number of new infections to contain the outbreak. Local authorities and volunteers will spray chemicals to kill mosquitoes and pubic members are advised to destroy mosquito-breeding grounds around their houses.
FDA Approves New Treatment for Highly Drug-Resistant Forms of Tuberculosis
Pretomanid, a novel compound developed by the non-profit organization TB Alliance, was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) today for treating some of the most drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis (TB). TB, in all forms, must be treated with a combination of drugs; the most drug-sensitive forms of TB require six months of treatment using four anti-TB drugs. Treatment of XDR-TB or treatment-intolerant/non-responsive MDR-TB has historically been lengthy and complex; most XDR-TB patients currently take a combination of as many as eight antibiotics, some involving daily injections, for 18 months or longer. Prior to recent introduction of new drugs for drug-resistant TB, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported estimates for treatment success rates of XDR-TB therapy at approximately 34 percent and about 55 percent for MDR-TB therapy. Pretomanid is only the third new anti-TB drug approved for use by FDA in more than 40 years, as well as the first to be developed and registered by a not-for-profit organization.
Pacific Health Ministers address health consequences of a changing climate
The health impacts of a changing climate were a focus of last week’s 13th Pacific Health Ministers Meeting, with ministers acknowledging the ‘climate crisis’, and endorsing a roadmap to address climate-related threats to safe drinking water, sufficient food, resilient health infrastructure, and secure shelter in the Pacific. Health security - an essential requirement in one of the most disaster-prone regions - was also a key focus, with ministers committing to develop and fund national health security action plans to fill gaps in emergency preparedness and response capacities, and sustain gains already made.
Dengue fever kills 48, infects over 10,700 people in Myanmar
10,757 people were infected by Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) across Myanmar in the past seven months, according to a release from the Public Health Department under the Ministry of Health and Sports on Wednesday. As of July 27, Ayeyarwady region registered highest numbers of DHF infection cases with 1,974 cases and five deaths, followed by Yangon region with 1,788 cases and 15 deaths, the department's figures said.
Mosquito spit glands’ hold key to curbing malaria, study shows
Johns Hopkins Medicine
In an effort to define precisely the location of the parasite bottleneck, scientists say they have discovered that the parasites are stopped by a roadblock along the escape route in the insect's spit glands, a barrier that could potentially serve as a novel target for preventing or reducing malarial infection.
CEPI announces support for fourth Nipah virus vaccine
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Public Health Vaccines (PHV), LLC, have announced a partnership agreement worth up to $43.6 million to support the development and manufacturing of a Nipah virus vaccine. The vaccine uses a weakened version of the recombinant vesicular stomatitis (rVSV) that expresses a Nipah virus protein on its surface, which prompts protection against the virus. CEPI was founded in the wake of West Africa's Ebola outbreak as a novel way to fund and speed the development of new vaccines against emerging infectious diseases, especially Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), Nipah virus, and Lassa virus. CEPI has so far committed to investing $456 million in vaccine development.