IHP news 504: infectious diseases & NTDs

By on January 11, 2019

Reuters – Scientists say ‘mosquito birth control’ drug could be ready in five years


Scientists in the United States said on Tuesday they had taken a major step toward developing a “mosquito birth control” drug to curb the spread of malaria and other killer diseases blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths a year.  Researchers at the University of Arizona said they had discovered a protein unique to female mosquitoes which is critical for their young to hatch. When the scientists blocked the protein, the females laid eggs with defective shells causing the embryos inside to die. The team said developing drugs which targetted the protein could provide a way to reduce mosquito populations without harming beneficial insects such as bees….”

For the study, see Plos Biology.

Lancet HIV (viewpoint) – HIV prevention cascades: a unifying framework to replicate the successes of treatment cascades

R Schaefer et al; https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanhiv/article/PIIS2352-3018(18)30327-8/fulltext
Many countries are off track to meet targets for reduction of new HIV infections. HIV prevention cascades have been proposed to assist in the implementation and monitoring of HIV prevention programmes by identifying gaps in the steps required for effective use of prevention methods, similar to HIV treatment cascades. However, absence of a unifying framework impedes widespread use of prevention cascades. Building on a series of consultations, we propose an HIV prevention cascade that consists of three key domains of motivation, access, and effective use in a priority population. This three step cascade can be used for routine monitoring and advocacy, particularly by attaching 90-90-90-style targets. Further characterisation of reasons for gaps across motivation, access, or effective use allows for a comprehensive framework that guides identification of relevant responses and platforms for interventions. Linkage of the prevention cascade, reasons for gaps, and interventions reconciles the different requirements of prevention cascades, providing a unifying framework.”

Lancet (Comment) – Health-emergency disaster risk management and research ethics

E YY Chan et al ; https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)33126-X/fulltext

Health-emergency disaster risk management (health-EDRM) aims to reduce the health risks and vulnerability associated with emergencies and disasters, such as natural disasters, infectious disease epidemics, complex emergencies, technology failure, or global population movement. Medical care and health responses in emergency contexts often rely on best-fit interventions rather than best practices to protect communities in suboptimally functioning systems and complex contexts. Unlike health emergency actions that are focused on the response, the health-EDRM approach emphasises emergency preparedness and disaster risk reduction and can take account of the limitations of the response-focused research landscape. A greater emphasis on prevention can provide opportunities for research infrastructure building in normal times to support any emergency-related research attempts….”

Lancet Global Health – Age-targeted tuberculosis vaccination in China and implications for vaccine development: a modelling study

Lancet Global Health;

New LSHTM study.

Tuberculosis is the leading single-pathogen cause of death worldwide, and China has the third largest number of cases worldwide. New tools, such as new vaccines, are needed to meet WHO tuberculosis goals. Tuberculosis vaccine development strategies mostly target infants or adolescents, but given China’s ageing epidemic, vaccinating older people might be important. We modelled the potential impact of new tuberculosis vaccines in China targeting adolescents (15–19 years) or older adults (60–64 years) with varying vaccine characteristics to inform strategic vaccine development….”

The authors interpret their findings as follows: “Adolescent-targeted tuberculosis vaccines, the focus of many development plans, would have only a small impact in ageing, reactivation-driven epidemics such as those in China. Instead, an efficacious post-infection vaccine delivered to older adults will be crucial to maximise population-level impact in this setting and would provide an important contribution towards achieving WHO goals. Older adults should be included in tuberculosis vaccine clinical development and implementation planning.”

For the related Comment in the Lancet Global Health, see Importance of tuberculosis vaccination targeting older people in China  (by Yue Wang et al).

Washington Post – On a bat’s wing and a prayer


Scientists’ plan to track deadly Marburg virus is literally held together with glue.”

Longread on the Marburg Virus in fruit bats in West Africa – the virus kills up to 9 in 10 of those infected.

Stat (Op-Ed)-‘Neglected diseases’ are anything but neglected by the billion-plus people living with them

J H Kim (DG of the International Vaccine Institute); Stat;


“… An alternative designation, poverty-associated infectious diseases (PAID), better captures the essence of this hodgepodge. But it doesn’t do much to help define, prioritize, fund, and create incentives for action to reduce the burden of PAID around the world. What should be done to remedy this systematic failure, including the failure to promptly develop vaccines, the most cost-effective approach to infectious diseases and an essential part of the comprehensive solution to these diseases?… … Neglected diseases should not be victims. They must find a voice to attract leadership, advocacy, and funding so we can put PAID to solving these pressing global health needs. One useful strategy would be to prioritize and incentivize the development of vaccines for diseases that are a bigger problem in developing countries but that could also be useful in high-income countries.”

NPR – If A Worm Makes You Sick, Can This Cup Of Tea Cure You?

NPR Goats & Soda;

“… The standard treatment [for Schistosomiasis] is a drug called praziquantel — three doses spread out over the course of one day can cure most people of the worms that cause schistosomiasis. But what if tea from a local plant worked just as well?…

“…In a new study published this month, Pam Weather & colleagues report that sweet wormwood tea can cure schistosomiasis faster and with fewer side effects than the most common drug treatment….”

UK Gov – Innovative genomics tool guides response to Lassa fever outbreak


A paper published in the journal ‘Science’ demonstrates the impact of portable sequencing on the public health response early in Nigerian Lassa fever outbreak.”

NYT – A Virus Even More Dangerous Than Zika to Pregnant Woman


The Zika virus must take the “side roads” into the placenta to infect a fetus, one researcher said — but the Rift Valley fever virus takes the “expressway.””

PS: “…Last week, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations launched a call for proposals to develop human vaccines against Rift Valley fever. About $48 million will finance up to eight projects on Rift Valley fever and Chikungunya viruses, according to an announcement…”

TMIH – The Decline of Dengue in the Americas in 2017: Discussion of Multiple Hypotheses

S Ault et al; https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/tmi.13200?af=R&

“… We aimed to provide plausible explanations for the decline in 2017. An expert panel of representatives from scientific and academic institutions, Ministry of Health officials from Latin America and PAHO/WHO staff met in October 2017 to propose hypotheses. The meeting employed six moderated plenary discussions in participants reviewed epidemiological evidence, suggested explanatory hypotheses, offered their expert opinions on each, and developed a consensus….” Check out their findings.

The conclusion: “…Multifactorial events may have accounted for the decline in dengue seen in 2017. Differing elements might explain the reduction in dengue including elements of immunity, increased vector control, and even vector and\or viruses changes or adaptations.”

WHO Afro weekly bulletin on outbreaks and other emergencies


Weekly resource.  If you want to subscribe, see WHO Afro.

Telegraph – First malaria saliva test could help eliminate the disease through early diagnosis


The world’s first rapid diagnostic saliva test to screen for malaria could help eradicate the disease, scientists say….”


Washington University school of Medicine in St Louis – New strategy may curtail spread of antibiotic resistance

Washington University School of Medicine;

“Study identifies key step in spread of drug resistance, opportunity for intervention.”

“Spotless surfaces in hospitals can hide bacteria that rarely cause problems for healthy people but pose a serious threat to people with weakened immune systems. Acinetobacter baumannii causes life-threatening lung and bloodstream infections in hospitalized people. Such infections are among the most difficult to treat because these bacteria have evolved to withstand most antibiotics. Now, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have figured out a key step in the transmission of antibiotic resistance from one Acinetobacter bacterium to another, insight that sheds light on how antibiotic resistance spreads through a hospital or community. The findings, published online Jan. 9 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, open up a new strategy to safeguard our ability to treat bacterial infections with antibiotics. The research indicates that the effectiveness of current antibiotics may be somewhat preserved by curtailing the spread of antibiotic-resistance genes….”    

“…These findings provide a novel opening to interrupt the spread of drug resistance, the researchers said. The genes involved have been identified. Now researchers have to find compounds that prevent plasmids from disrupting bacterial-defense systems….” 

And a quick link:

Cidrap NewsStudy sheds more light on delamanid role in treating MDR-TB

A phase 3 trial of delamanid, a newer oral drug for treating multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), found no statistically significant reduction in time to sputum culture conversion when compared to placebo, but that it was safe and well tolerated….”

Leave a reply
Print Friendly, PDF & Email