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Biodefense Headlines – February 27, 2018

Biodefense Headlines on Global BiodefenseSee what we’re reading this week at Global Biodefense on topics including ZMapp Ebola countermeasure development, and updating the CDC’s high containment laboratories.



Pandemic Risk: How Large Are the Expected Losses?

The arguments for greater investments in pandemic preparedness have been largely based on estimates of the losses in national incomes that might occur. Extending the estimate to include the valuation of the lives lost as a result of pandemic-related increases in mortality produces markedly higher estimates of the full value of loss that might occur as the result of a future pandemic. World Health Organization

After Ebola Crisis, Yale Works to Strengthen Liberian Health System

Led by Yale’s Dr. Asghar Rastegar, professor of medicine and director of the Office of Global Health in the Department of Medicine, Ogbuagu and other Yale School of Medicine faculty partnered with the Liberian government to rebuild a high-quality, resilient, and sustainable healthcare system in that country. They worked closely with the Liberian Health Workforce Program to ensure the nation’s hospitals and medical professionals would be prepared to respond effectively in case another public-health emergency strikes. Yale

What Went Wrong? The World Health Organization from Swine Flu to Ebola

Since 2001, the WHO has been actively promoting its ability to manage global health security. Recent events such as the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic and the 2014 Ebola outbreak have, however, led to questions being raised about the WHO’s abilities and extensive calls for the organization’s reform. Springer

Canada’s Pandemic Influenza Preparedness: Laboratory Strategy

The Canadian Pandemic Influenza Preparedness: Planning Guidance for the Health Sector (CPIP) is a guidance document that outlines key health sector preparedness activities designed to ensure Canada is ready to respond to the next influenza pandemic. ProQuest


CDC Requests Funds to Build New Maximum-Security Laboratory

The CDC is asking Congress for money for a new building to house the laboratories that work on the deadliest pathogens known to humankind. The existing building, which went into service in 2005, will need to be replaced by 2023 or so to avoid major disruptions in the work. STAT

Plague Bacteria May Be Hiding in Common Soil or Water Microbes, Waiting to Emerge

Amoebae – common soil and waterborne microorganisms that eat bacteria – could play a role in protecting this dangerous pathogen between outbreaks. This relationship may give plague bacteria a place to replicate and bide their time before conditions are right for another outbreak to occur. The Conversation

Bats Spread Ebola Because They’ve Evolved Not to Fight Viruses

Bats provide a refuge for some of the most lethal viruses known, including Ebola, Marburg, Nipah and SARS. Now we may know why the animals tolerate these lethal viruses – and it’s because flying is such hard work. New Scientist

Investigative Ebola Treatment ZMapp to Undergo Testing

A Texas-based research team will begin clinical trials on an experimental treatment for the Ebola virus. ZMapp, the monoclonal antibody combination therapy that was used to treat humans during the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak before even reaching human clinical trials, will be further researched by the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio.

No One’s Quite Sure Why Lassa Fever is on the Rise in Nigeria

A disease that usually just lurks in the background has roared into headlines. Since the beginning of the year, there’s been a particularly large outbreak of Lassa fever in Nigeria’s southern provinces. NPR

Potential Plague Exportation from Madagascar Via International Air Travel

About 400 cases of plague occur annually in Madagascar; however in 2017, there were substantially more cases and deaths reported. This article identifies countries with the strongest links to Madagascar through international air travel, and discuss these countries’ ability to cope with the possibility of imported plague. The Lancet Infectious Diseases

Yersinia pestis Targets Host Endosome Recycling Pathway

This research screen revealed that 71 host proteins are required for intracellular survival of Y. pestis. Of particular interest was the enrichment for genes involved in endosome recycling. Y. pestis actively recruits Rab4a and Rab11b to the YCV in a type three secretion system-independent manner, indicating remodeling of the YCV by Y. pestis to resemble a recycling endosome. mBio

Molecular Epidemiological Investigations of Plague in Eastern Province of Zambia

The aim of this study was to investigate the molecular epidemiology of plague in the two affected districts. The pla gene of Y. pestis was present in various hosts in the two districts and the strains circulating in each district were similar and resembles those in the Republic of Congo and Kenya. BMC Microbiology


Increasing Malaria in Venezuela Threatens Regional Progress

Malaria in South America is declining. Documented cases fell by a third between 2010 and 2015, according to WHO, with mortality rates dropping by 37%. However, in Venezuela—where hyperinflation is 2616% and medicines are scarce—the situation is far bleaker. The Lancet Infectious Diseases

The 2018 Flu Season Might Finally Be Leveling Off

This nasty flu season, which has been worsening for months, may finally be leveling off. Health officials on Friday said about 1 of every 13 visits to the doctor last week was for fever, cough and other symptoms of the flu. That’s no reason for health officials to celebrate yet: That level is among the highest in a decade. But it’s no worse than last week, and flu activity had been increasing each week since November. Time


Drug Makers Lobby for Antibiotic Incentives in Pandemic Preparedness Bill

A big legislative package due for renewal later this year could include hundreds of millions of dollars of drug incentives — and the medical community is already jostling to shape its contents. STAT+

Development and Pilot Testing of a Text Message Vaccine Reminder

In an influenza pandemic, two vaccine doses administered 21 days apart may be needed for individuals of all ages to achieve seroprotection. CDC and its partners developed a text message-based vaccine reminder system to remind persons who receive a first dose of pandemic influenza vaccine to receive the second dose. Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics

Cost-Utility Analysis of Antiviral Use Under Pandemic Influenza

Cost-utility analysis of antiviral use under pandemic influenza using a novel approach. An evaluation of the epidemiological and economic impact of oseltamivir dose optimisation in supporting pandemic influenza planning in the USA. Epidemiology + Infection


Enhanced Drug Distribution Security under the Drug Supply Chain Security Act

Feb 28, 2018. These public meetings are intended to provide members of the drug distribution supply chain and other interested stakeholders an opportunity to discuss strategies and issues related to the enhanced drug distribution security provisions of the DSCSA. FDA

Briefing: Innovation and the Fight Against Superbugs

March 1, 2018. The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Infectious Diseases Society of America will co-sponsor a briefing on “Innovation and the Fight Against Superbugs.” The event aims to inform congressional staff about efforts to combat antibiotic resistance by key federal agencies, as well as their successes and challenges in advancing antibiotic innovation and stewardship. PEW Charitable Trusts

Aberdeen Proving Ground Advanced Planning Briefing to Industry

April 17-20, 2018. The goal of the APG Discovery Week APBI is to provide industry with networking opportunities for both large and small businesses. The APBI will describe potential future contracting opportunities for mission areas that focus on: Chemical and Biological Defense; Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance; Research and Development; Test and Evaluation.


You Will Soon Be Able to Paint with Bacteria!

Researchers in the UK and the Netherlands have unlocked the genetic code that changes the color of certain bacteria. The discovery could lead to large-scale manufacturing of biodegradable, non-toxic paint. Flavobacteria, the bacteria used for the study, form colonies of metallic colors created by their internal structure, which reflects light at certain wavelengths, as opposed to containing a pigment.

ECBC Chemist Honored for STEM Outreach

David Love, a chemist with the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC), received the Modern-Day Technology Leaders award for his commitment to STEM outreach and mentorship. Love is currently pursuing a master of science in systems engineering from Johns Hopkins University. For his final project, he is designing a STEM ecosystem for women and minority students. The project aims at closing the skills gap in the STEM field. ECBC

The Extra Bits of a Grant Application: A Cheat Sheet

These guidelines provide some generic tips for the extra bits that go with a grant application. These are not about the science, but about managing the process and dealing with the bits that are about the applicant personally. Nature

MIT, USAMRIID Develop Algorithm for Early Warning of Exposure to Pathogens

Biodefense Headlines – March 4, 2018