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Also In Global Health News: WHO Reacts To Amnesty’s N. Korea Report; Universal Flu Vaccine; Malaria-Resistant Mosquitoes

WHO Questions Validity Of Amnesty Report On N. Korea’s Health System

The WHO is questioning the validity of the findings of a recent Amnesty International report which highlighted the dire needs of North Korea’s health system, “contradict[ing] the rosier picture given by WHO chief Margaret Chan after her April trip there,” the Associated Press reports. Although WHO spokesman Paul Garwood “insisted he wasn’t criticizing Amnesty’s work … he said Thursday’s report was anecdotal, with stories dating back to 2001,” which “[h]e contrasted … with WHO’s science-based approach” (7/16).

Scientists Report Two-Step Vaccination Process Offers Protection Against Broad Range Of Flu Viruses

“U.S. scientists are reporting they have made progress in the search for what’s called the Holy Grail of influenza research – a universal flu vaccine,” the Canadian Press reports. “In a study published Thursday in the journal Science, they showed that a two-step vaccination process they developed protected mice, ferrets and monkeys against a broad range of flu viruses” (Branswell, 7/15).

“Flu vaccines are usually created each year from inactivated viruses of three different strains, work best against those strains, and need to be replaced after a year. A universal vaccine could provide protection against most or all flu strains for decades, even as flu mutates into new strains,” Bloomberg News/Washington Post adds. “A durable and effective universal influenza vaccine would have enormous ramifications for the control of influenza,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, according to the news service. “The study represents ‘an important milestone’ in this quest, he said” (Fridson, 7/15).

Researchers Develop Mosquitoes Resistant To Malaria Parasite

Researchers “have developed a transgenic mosquito that is completely immune to infection by Plasmodium falciparum, the primary malaria-causing parasite in humans. The researchers hope that their findings will one day be used as part of a new strategy to combat malaria,” Scientific American’s “Observations” blog reports. The research was published Thursday in PLoS Pathogens (Zeliadt, 7/15). “The mosquitoes used in the research were Anopheles stephensi, a species that plays a major role in malaria transmission throughout the Indian subcontinent,” HealthDay/Bloomberg Businessweek writes (7/15).

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