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Also In Global Health News: Drug-Resistance Gene; Polio In Nigeria; Dengue Vaccine; River Blindness Diagnostic Test

Newspaper Examines Gene That Enables Drug Resistance In Bacteria

The Washington Post looks at the gene NDM-1, which makes bacteria “resistant to many medications [and] marks a worrying development in the fight against infectious diseases, which can mutate to defeat humans’ antibiotic arsenal.” The article examines the presumed origin of the gene in India and notes that it “has not jumped into bugs spread by coughing or sneezing, and the three U.S. patients [who have so far been identified with the gene] did not transmit their infections to anyone else. But the microbes can spread readily through other common ways, including contaminated sewage, water and medical equipment and lax personal hygiene such as inadequate hand-washing. Many patients eventually recover, but it remains unclear how many people have died and what the mortality rate is” (Stein, 10/11).

Work Needed To Maintain Fight Against Polio In Nigeria

“Nigeria’s Expert Review Committee on Polio Eradication and Routine Immunisation has concluded that the country could stop poliovirus transmission by mid-2011 if it were to intensify and upgrade its eradication programme, and build on the significant progress it has made,” the Vanguard reports. This year Nigeria has experienced “one of the most dramatic reductions in poliovirus circulation seen in any endemic country,” the article notes. According to UNICEF’s Suomi Sakai, “We have reason to celebrate, but not to relax. Once polio is interrupted, it has to stay interrupted. We have to work together to make sure that all children in the country are protected routinely against polio and against other vaccine-preventable diseases like measles, diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus as well” (Obinna, 10/11).

NIAID Awards Grant For Development Of Needle-Free Dengue Vaccine

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has awarded a $15.5 million to two companies for the development of a needle-free dengue vaccine, using a technology that has been preliminarily tested on animals, in-PharmaTechnologist.com reports. The grant, awarded to Inviragen and PhramaJet to work in a five-year partnership, will cover “preclinical, regulatory filings, manufacturing and clinical testing of the needle-free dengue vaccine” (Taylor, 10/11). Denver Business Journal adds that needle-free technology, which delivers medicine through the skin, “removes hygienic and health concerns associated with the use and re-use of needles in poor countries” (Avery, 10/8). According to an Inviragen press release (.pdf), the needle-free technology will use the company’s DENVax dengue vaccine, which is currently in Phase I testing for safety using the using the traditional needle and syringe (10/7).

New River Blindness Diagnostic Test Developed

Scientists have developed a new diagnostic test for river blindness or onchocerciasis, the Journal Sentinel’s “Health and Science Today” blog reports. Diagnostic tests currently exist, but they often give false negatives and “are unreliable indicators of infection,” said Judith Denery, a senior research associate at the Scripps Research Institute and lead author of the study, which was published in PLoS Neglected Tropical (Johnson, 10/7). To develop the test, researchers used a process known as metabolomics, “the systematic study of the unique chemical fingerprints that specific cellular processes leave behind,” according to a Scripps Research Institute press release. “Ultimately this technology can be expanded for the diagnosis of other filarial and neglected tropical diseases,” said paper co-author Kim Janda, a professor in Scripps’ Departments of Chemistry and Immunology and Microbial Science (10/6).

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