Anti-Vaccine Bots, DoD Biothreat Assay Performance Standards, Orphan Drug Act

GBD Biodefense Headlines

See what we’re reading this week at Global Biodefense on topics including the global occurrence of Bacillus anthracis, performance standards for Defense Department biological threat assays, and debate over the Orphan Drug Act heats up.


Russian Trolls Fan Flames in U.S. Vaccine Debate

Ordinary twitter users posted much less often about vaccines, and tended to have much less inflammatory #vaccinateUS messages to share than automated bots and Russian trolls, researchers report in the American Journal of Public Health. The bots and trolls were much busier, and shared more extreme views. Reuters

Debate Over the Orphan Drug Act Heats Up

Somewhat undercutting the entire topic is how our increasing knowledge of how individuals respond to specific drugs, or more granular our knowledge is about specific diseases, is leading to more and more focused treatments. In essence, every disease, when viewed through a lens of “personalized medicine,” becomes a “rare” disease. BioSpace

Thermal Stability and Epitope Integrity of a Lyophilized Ricin Toxin Subunit Vaccine

Biodefense vaccine are destined to be stockpiled for periods of time and deployed in the event of a public health emergency. This report compares the potency of liquid and lyophilized (thermostabilized) formulations of a candidate ricin toxin subunit vaccine, RiVax, adsorbed to aluminum salts adjuvant, over a 12-month period. Vaccine

The French Fear Vaccines, as Measles Ravages Europe

In 2016, just shy of 90,000 people died from measles infections. According to the World Health Organization, that number is down from over a half million in the year 2000, showing just how effective the global vaccination campaign has been. Yet, while the developing world is doing everything it possibly can to get more people vaccinated, more developed nations are going in the opposite direction. American Council on Science and Health


Global Distribution of B. anthracis and Associated Anthrax Risk to Humans and Animals

A compilation of an extensive global occurrence dataset for B. anthracis, drawing on confirmed human, livestock, and wildlife anthrax outbreaks. With these records, the researchers used boosted regression trees to produce the first map of the global distribution of B. anthracis as a proxy for anthrax risk. (abstract) BioRxiv

Vaccine-Mediated Induction of an Ebolavirus Cross-Species Antibody

In this study, ma-C10 was found to bind to the GP of the 3 most clinically relevant Ebolavirus species, suggesting that a cross-species immunogen strategy targeting the residues in this region may be a feasible approach for producing a pan-filovirus vaccine. The Journal of Infectious Diseases

Performance Standards for DoD Biological Threat Agent Assays

In contrast to the proliferation of detection methodology, there has been a lack of standards defining the required performance of these technologies. Standards are necessary to demonstrate the performance and limitations of the tools, providing confidence in the data to allow appropriate response actions by end-users and responders. (abstract) PubMed


Recommendations on Forthcoming US Global Health Security Strategy

This report from the Center for Health Security details recommendations for meaningful integration of the nongovernmental sector into global health security efforts, as well as establishment of clear targets by which to measure progress and gaps in existing global health security efforts. JHSPH CHS

The Movement to Be on the Ground and Research Ready before an Outbreak

This paper explores why just-in-time research efforts in the field during the West Africa epidemic failed, as well as some recent initiatives to prevent similarly lost opportunities. (abstract) MDPI

Outbreaks in a Rapidly Changing Central Africa — Lessons from Ebola

Recent economic gains in several Central African countries have not yet resulted in increased investments in health care infrastructure. World Bank trust funds, such as the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility, can provide rapid surge financing during the initial stages of a severe outbreak. But long-term funding programs should also be made available for direct investment in the strengthening and sustaining of general health systems. New England Journal of Medicine

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