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Also In Global Health News: Cholera In Zimbabwe; Personal Computers; Medical ‘Outliers’; Rain In Kenya; Generic Drugs

More Than 100 Infected, 5 Dead From Cholera In Zimbabwe

A cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe has infected more than 100, resulting in five deaths, state media said Tuesday, Reuters reports, “raising fears of a repeat of last year’s epidemic that claimed more than 4,000 lives. The southern African country suffered the continent’s worst cholera outbreak in 15 years between August 2008 and June this year after its public health and water and sanitation systems collapsed” (Bayna, 10/20). According to Agence France-Presse, “The United Nations Children’s Fund warned in August that the nation’s crumbling infrastructure made another outbreak almost inevitable” (10/20).

Computer Networks Helps Scientists Run Research Simulations

The Wall Street Journal reports on a “vast network” of personal computers around the world that aid medical researchers with “complex digital simulations” because “computers at academic institutions and other research facilities can’t keep up with the demand for medical processing power.” The University of Washington’s Rosetta lab has used one of these networks to research “an enzyme that could slice apart genes in female mosquitoes, potentially preventing malaria transmission without using toxic chemicals.” Joseph Jasinski, an IBM engineer who also uses the technology, said, “Have we discovered a new drug for curing AIDS? No. But we’ve found some great candidates” (Singer-Vine, 10/20).

Wall Street Journal Examines Study Of Medical Outliers To Fight Disease

The Wall Street Journal examines how scientists are studying patients known as “elite controllers,” who “are part of a larger group of ‘outliers,’ people who respond atypically to a disease, often by managing to stop it from progressing or by succumbing especially quickly. If researchers can figure out how elite controllers avoid developing AIDS, they might be able to replicate the defenses in other people through a vaccine or new drug.” The article profiles an HIV-positive man who has maintained “an extremely low viral count despite having never received antiretroviral therapy” and includes information on several controllers projects on HIV and hepatitis C have that have yielded promising results (Marcus, 10/20).

Rains End Kenyan Drought, But Millions Still Hungry, Aid Workers Say

Although the Kenya Meteorological Society said rains have ended Kenya’s “long drought,” aid workers “warn that millions of hungry people still need food aid,” the Associated Press reports. “World Food Program spokesman Marcus Prior said 4.4 million Kenyans will continue to receive food aid until March” (10/19).

Pharmaceutical Firms Agree To Continue Support For Canadian Program That Supplies Generic Drugs To Rwanda

Pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline and the Canadian subsidiaries of Shire and Boehringer Ingelheim “said Monday they support continued efforts by a Canadian generic drug maker [Apotex] to distribute cheaper versions of their patented HIV/AIDS medicines in Rwanda,” Agence France-Presse reports. But so far, only Rwanda has received drugs from the arrangement, known as Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR). Apotex “threatened last month to abandon the project, saying it was a too ‘costly and complicated process.'” It called for CAMR rules to be simplified (10/19).

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