Sepsis Countermeasures, The Rise of Ticks, Smallpox Orphan Drug Designation

Global Biodefense NewsSee what we’re reading this week at Global Biodefense on topics including the economic costs of a measles outbreak, the battle against ticks and Lyme bacterium, and the role of veterinarians in combating Ebola.

Quick Index

POLICY + INITIATIVES

White House Preparing Bio-Defense Strategy as Germ Warfare Fears Rise

As long as the same officials who are responsible for dealing with chemical or radiological threats also oversee bio-war preparedness, the danger is likely to be neglected. Bio-threats aren’t like nerve gas or radiation — they are living organisms that evolve and may grow worse over time rather than dissipating after their initial impact. Forbes

Today’s Life-Saving Ebola Vaccine Was Spurred by 2001 Anthrax and 2004 Ricin Attacks

In July 2004, when President George W. Bush signed the Project BioShield legislation, I was hopeful it would help protect the United States. The demand for these types of drugs and vaccines is often non-existent until the crisis is upon us—prior to the anthrax attacks of 2001, we had not seen a case of anthrax inhalation on U.S. soil for a quarter of a century.  Forbes

Kansas City’s Two Measles Outbreaks Are Over. But What Did They Cost Taxpayers?

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said it spent about $46,000 on a bevy of lab testing, vaccines and staffing costs. But that’s a conservative estimate that doesn’t include baked-in costs to maintain the state’s disease surveillance software, EpiTrax, or salaries for support staff. Kansas City.com

Gates Foundation Rolls Outs Details of its New Biotech, One Without a Profit Motive

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has spun out a nonprofit biotech offspring, the Bill and Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute. With funding of $273 million for its first four years, the organization is in an enviable position. And it doesn’t care about making money. STAT

Pandemics: Spend on Surveillance, Not Prediction

Broad genomic surveys of animal viruses will almost certainly advance our understanding of virus diversity and evolution. In our view, they will be of little practical value when it comes to understanding and mitigating the emergence of disease. Nature

OUTBREAK NEWS + THREAT SURVEILLANCE

Why Veterinarians are the Key to Defeating Ebola

Doctors and public health officials can’t contain Ebola outbreaks — or any of the hundreds of other diseases that spread from animals to humans — by themselves. They need help from veterinarians. Unfortunately, there aren’t nearly enough of these animal health specialists. Salon

In the Battle Against Lyme Disease, the Ticks Are Winning

Although children are the most frequently diagnosed group and thousands of infected patients develop long-term infirmity every year, little has been done to curb the spread of ticks or to control the harm inflicted by the Lyme bacterium. Instead, the list of new and threatening tick species and illnesses grows. Scientific American

Want to Know Where the Next Ebola Outbreak Will Strike? Follow the Bats

medical researchers have been scrambling to find ways to predict the timing and location of outbreaks so that they can be contained. Now, a group of researchers think they’ve found a reliable method, developed through following the migratory patterns of bats. Big Think

No, Killer Dog Flu Isn’t the Next Human Pandemic

The particles on the surface of the virus are like keys that match the distinctive “locks” on an animal’s cells. Canine influenza virus has the key to infecting dogs, and since the virus only causes an infection once it’s inside a cell, it would take a significant mutation to the key for it to infect you. National Geographic

MEDICAL COUNTERMEASURES

The End of Antibiotics?

However, some governments have been reluctant to impose regulations, fearing that doing so could harm food security and economic growth or push life-saving drugs further out of reach of millions of citizens. Many argue, however, that without populous countries, such as India and China, stepping up to restrict antibiotic use, efforts elsewhere will be undermined. Council on Foreign Relations

Small Pox Treatment, Brincidofovir, Granted Orphan Drug Designation

Brincidofovir (CMX001) has demonstrated an improvement in survival rates following orthopoxvirus infections in several animal models. Rare Disease Report

Can This Flu Drug Really Stop Ebola in its Tracks?

Favipiravir is an antiviral drug that possesses the unique ability to prevent RNA-based viruses, like Ebola and influenza, from replicating. Animal studies suggest the drug has a high level of resistance to the Ebola virus. PopSci

Flu Vaccination and Effective Communication

A thoughtful response on an article in which the authors define ‘fear’ of influenza as being rooted only in pandemics, downplays the relevance of said pandemics, and fails to offer any viable alternatives or solutions. Virology Down Under

No Safety Concerns with Kids’ DTaP Combo Vaccine

A comprehensive, nearly two-decades long study of the DTaP vaccine that’s routinely given to babies and young children finds no safety issues. The DTaP vaccine is routinely advised as a five-dose series given at ages 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months and then again between the ages of 4 and 6 years. WebMD

Flu Killed 172 Children This Season, The Highest Death Toll in Nearly a Decade

About half of this season’s deaths were in otherwise healthy children. They ranged in age from 8 weeks to 17 years. Of those for whom a flu shot is recommended, less than one-fourth of the children who died had been fully vaccinated. Washington Post

Rohingya Crisis: Vaccinating Children Inside the World’s Largest Refugee Camp

Natasha Lewer has recently returned to the UK from Bangladesh. She blogs about her time with nurse Chrissie McVeigh inside Kutupalong refugee camp as Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) raced to vaccinate as many children as possible against diphtheria. MSF

SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY

Gene Editing Tool May Raise Cancer Risk in Cells, Scientists Warn

Researchers from the Britain’s Cambridge University and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute said more research needs to be done to assess whether using CRISPR-Cas9 – a type of molecular “scissors” that make gene editing a possibility – might lead to the development of treatments that have added cancer risk. The team, led by Jussi Taipale at Cambridge, found that CRISPR-Cas9 triggers a mechanism designed to protect cells from DNA damage, making gene editing more difficult. Reuters

Who Gets Credit For CRISPR? Prestigious Award Singles Out Three, Leaves Out a Notable Scientist

As multiple companies worth billions of dollars race to turn CRISPR into a human therapeutic, everyone from prize juries to patent offices to U.S. judges (to, perhaps, Nobel committees) is clashing over who did what when and how important their contribution was. STAT

RESEARCH + TECH

Blue Rush: One Company Leads the Race to Own Marine Genetic Sequences

Marine organism genomes are a source of largely untapped information that could be useful for a wide variety of potential biomedical and industrial technologies. But who are the early prospectors mining these marine genetic resources (MGRs) and who stands to benefit from them? The Scientist

NEIDL Researcher’s Lab Working on a Rapid Diagnostic Test

“When we do Ebola response, we take everybody who fits the case definition and we put them into the Ebola Treatment Unit. And so now these people are waiting around in the ETU, even if they just have malaria, next to somebody who might turn out to be positive. And in my mind, that’s a huge human rights injustice. With a rapid diagnostic, someone comes up at the door, you do the rapid diagnostics, if they’re negative, done.” BU Today

SPECIAL INTEREST

An HHS Official’s ‘Real-World Evidence’: Infection Detection, Sepsis Measures Needed

Rick Bright, head of HHS’ Biomedical Advances Research and Development Authority (BARDA), cut the side of his thumb while tending to his garden. The area began to swell, but he didn’t think much about it at first. After it festered for a few days, he sought treatment and discovered the situation was more serious that it first seemed. Bloomberg Healthcare

Phage Puppet Masters of the Marine Microbial Realm

Marine viruses are an abundant and ubiquitous part of oceanic ecosystems, where they play critical roles influencing the life and behavior of all organisms. Every drop of seawater is filled with millions of viruses. In fact, there are more viruses in a single liter of seawater than there are humans on the planet. Nature Microbiology

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