Saturday, December 10, 2011
Engineering-systems researchers identify proven strategies to prevent influenza from spreading through a household.
December 7, 2011
Between 1918 and 1920, an influenza epidemic swept across the globe, infecting more than a quarter of the world’s population and killing 50 to 100 million people.
If a similar outbreak occurred today, vaccines might help, but it’s possible that vaccine production would not be ramped up in time to have a significant effect. Furthermore, hospitals would likely be overwhelmed, leaving many patients to be cared for by family members at home.
In that situation, non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) would be critical to minimizing the spread of infection, say Richard Larson and Stan Finkelstein, members of MIT’s Engineering Systems Division (ESD), who want to get the word out about how to prevent the flu from spreading between family members and other groups of people who live or work in close quarters.
“We thought, ‘Let’s look at the dynamics of the home and see if there are any reasonably inexpensive steps that people could take to care for their loved ones and simultaneously minimize the chance of getting infected,’” says Larson, the Mitsui Professor of Engineering Systems.
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Indonesia Ministry of Health in collaboration with the European Union (EU) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Work Together #H5N1 #Birdflu
Ministry of Health and EU Support Control Bird Flu Outbreak
Until November 2011, the Ministry of Health recorded 182 cases of bird flu in humans with 150 deaths. Cases of bird flu is concentrated in three densely populated provinces such as Jakarta, and Banten Jawabarat.
It is described Client Excecutive EU representatives Indonesia, Reidinar Juliane in a press release.
Most cases occur in rural or semi-urban areas, where there are human and poultry populations are very high. "The crisis of bird flu in Indonesia is not over and risks of this outbreak in humans is still a threat," said Juliane.
Ministry of Health in collaboration with the European Union (EU) and the World Health Organization (WHO) continues to support the control and anticipation of the outbreak of bird flu in Indonesia through the National Strategic Project Implementation Plan for Avian Influenza (Implementation of the National Strategic Plan for Avian Influenza - INSPAI) .
"During the project period, December 2007 -2011, INSPAI has organized several activities, including the provision of ten places a hospital isolation room with negative pressure developed an important role in managing cases of bird flu and prevent penularanya," he said.
Juliane explained, this type of isolation is the first in Indonesia and development facilities are supported technically by United Office for Project Services (UNOPS). "This month, the project has completed the construction of ten INSPAI isolation rooms in general hospitals (Hospital) Tangerang," he explained.
According to the EU plan with WHO will be symbolically handed the Bubble Bird Flu to the Ministry of Health in Tangerang District Hospital on Monday (12/12) next week which will be attended by the Minister of Health Endang Rahayu, WHO representative to Indonesia Dr. Khanchit, Deputy Chief of Mission Delegation of the European Union and Asean Colin Crooks.
The European Commission is expected to adopt today (8 December) measures to co-ordinate the European response to health crises such as the 2009 swine-flu pandemic (H1N1). The goal is to avoid a repetition of the confused response that saw some member states – notably France – buy far too much medicine, while others – such as Poland – purchased none.
The Commission wants to strengthen the hands of smaller member states in negotiations with the pharmaceutical companies that make the vaccines.
Under the proposal member states would be able to buy such medicines as Tamiflu jointly, with the Commission negotiating on their behalf. The member states would then decide how much medicine was allotted to each country.
“We went through a process of learning the lessons from the H1N1 event, and we detected flaws in communication and in the vaccine procurement process,” John Dalli, the European commissioner for health, told European Voice. “The pharmaceutical industry imposed certain conditions on member states because they had their backs to the wall.”
The negotiation-pooling would be voluntary, and would be likely to benefit specifically small member states or member states that do not have a large domestic pharmaceutical industry. It would increase their negotiating power and allow them to ensure that each country received the appropriate amount of medicine.
Such a negotiation would be triggered once the Commission declared a public health emergency, another new element to the proposal. Approval of new vaccines would then be fast-tracked, taking two to three months instead of the normal seven.
Under the existing system, the EU can only call a health emergency once it has been declared by the World Health Organization (WHO). But the WHO only declares a pandemic once it has spread to at least two continents, so an outbreak occurring only in Europe would not qualify.
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Friday, December 9, 2011
Cross-national action against bird flu, pandemic prevention and emerging infectious diseases Aiped is considered the next phase of the program coordinate national action against bird flu and human flu period 2006 to 2010.
In the period 2006 - 2010, Vietnam has basically solved the serious epidemic of bird flu and human flu. However, manyrecommendations, the need to build a new program with the scope expanded to cover all major diseases are at risk appear or reappear.
Conference program to coordinate national action and disease prevention
Ms. Nguyen Thu Thuy, Deputy C muffled Department of Animal Health, Ministry of N N and Rural Development said: "We hope this program continues to be concerned, will help the veterinary control the disease and prevent the epidemic emerging diseases, particularly to help develop a sustainable livestock sector in the near future. "
Aiped program outlined overarching goal is to minimize risk to people and animals before the bird flu and other emerging infectious diseases. The program will focus on control of root and thoroughly implementing measures to prevent the occurrence of the disease, and enhance the preparedness of health care, epidemic prevention facilities.
Ms. Yuriko Shoji, FAO Representative in Vietnam, said: "This program is based on an exchange between government departments, international agencies. So we expect in the next five years, Vietnam is controlling the disease and to build capacity and disease prevention. "
With a total estimated cost of nearly 3,900 of which 2,500 billion billion ODA by 1400 and nearly reciprocal billion from Vietnam, Aiped program will strengthen the health sector, veterinary sector of Vietnam Nam to prevent and respond to outbreaks of rabies in animals and humans.
Bird flu is not a disease state pest ranikseta
The sensitivity shown by the death of the Crows, the capital of the state health and animal husbandry department of the district is still asleep. Closed meeting is understood an end to duty. Ditto for Tata Steel, Jusco, who took command area is the responsibility of urban governance. Jusco to protect the ravens still have not taken any concrete action while its controlled areas Jubilee Park, Sakchi, Sidgodha, Bishtupur etc. Most kaga are dying.
Caused the death of the Crows on the periphery of Jamshedpur Parker mysterious virus has spread in the range of 300 kilometers. Environmentalists say that the city almost 70 Pratistkaua have died. S. General officer in this regard. Kujur tried to talk the evening until six o'clock had his mobile switched off. On Friday, the city's different - different parts of the 20 crows were found dead. Jubilee Park, four of them, were landed on the ground in two Sidgodha and two Bishtupur. Animal Husbandry Department Karkes of Crows (the remains of dead body) for burial in the ground as part of a team has been constituted. Department of Health according to the district surveillance officer Dr Swaran Singh his responsibility is to protect ordinary people from bird viruses. So the death of the Crows in areas undergoing anti-virus drug distribution. Whom these drugs, where divided, the answer is no. Head of the Jusco, corporate communications Rajesh Rajan said he can not speak on the death of the Crows. In this regard, a command of the Deputy Commissioner will then be followed. http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?hl=en&ie=UTF8&prev=_t&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http://in.jagran.yahoo.com/news/local/jharkhand/4_8_8609194.html&usg=ALkJrhjOS17COnyuQ-AAnUy-4iZI86vKcg
Bird flu kills off ostrich industry
By Vincent Cruywagen
- Saturday, 10 December 2011 00:21
- Saugar Sengupta | Kolkata
The City of Joy’s Apollo Medical Research Institute (AMRI) turned a veritable gas chamber in the wee hours of Friday, when a raging fire snuffed out at least 92 lives — mostly of patients.
The fire, which started in the basement, assumed hellish proportions as the centralised air-conditioning pumped smoke nonstop from ground zero to the second and third floors, where maximum casualties occurred. Post-mortem on 88 victims has revealed that cause of death was asphyxiation on account of inhalation of carbon monoxide...
By: Helen Branswell, The Canadian Press
The agency actually announced two human cases with swine-origin flu viruses on Friday. One was an infection with the H3N2 virus that has been popping up over the past few months, and a second was with a new virus, a swine-origin H1N2. That case was spotted in Minnesota.
Both cases were in children under five years old, and neither child had known contact with swine, Lyn Finelli of the CDC's influenza division said in an interview.
The widening geographic spread of the H3N2 cases has the CDC thinking these swine origin viruses may be transmitting at low levels among people, suggested Finelli, who is chief of surveillance and outbreak response in the influenza division.
"It does make us take it pretty seriously," she said of the evidence of infections in five different states — Maine, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Iowa and now West Virginia.
The virus is an influenza A virus of the H3N2 subtype. It's a distant cousin of the human H3N2 viruses that circulate every year. But it is sufficiently different, genetically, from the human virus that experts say the H3N2 component of the seasonal flu shot is unlikely to offer any protection against it.
That said, it is believed most people over the age of 20 or so would have been exposed to similar viruses in the past and would probably have some protection against this virus were it to continue to spread in people. All but one of the 11 cases spotted so far have been children under 10; the exception was a 58-year-old.
Most of the cases have experienced only mild infection though three were hospitalized. The three all had other health problems which may have contributed to the severity of their symptoms.
The swine H3N2 virus has picked up a gene from the H1N1 virus that caused the 2009 pandemic. That gene — the M gene — has been shown in animal studies to make flu viruses more transmissible.
The virus was first spotted in July and initial cases occurred in people who had contact with pigs or contact with people who had contact with pigs.
The most recent cases — the West Virginia case and a cluster of three children in Iowa a few weeks back — seem almost certainly to have been the result of viruses passing from person to person, not from pigs to people.
"We're not exactly sure how many generations these viruses are away from pigs. But it looks at least like those transmissions are person to person," Finelli said....
The rest here http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/us-sees-2-new-human-infections-with-swine-influenza-viruses-cdc-reports-135334578.html
CFIA urging flu shots for livestock workers
Dec 9, 2011 6:25 AM -
The federal agency's public recommendation Wednesday applied also to veterinarians, service personnel such as feed truck drivers and workers handling inseminations and livestock vaccinations, as well as anyone visiting hog operations.
Several flu viruses can be transmitted between people and animals, and between different species of animals, the agency reiterated.
Apart from the damage a flu can cause in herds and flocks, human health experts have long been concerned that potent strains such as the infamous H5N1 could mutate or combine with another flu virus, such as H1N1, that could spread more easily between people.
Anyone with flu-like symptoms should also avoid contact with livestock, particularly sick animals, the agency said Wednesday.
Anyone who works with livestock can also protect animals by following biosecurity practices, managing movements of people, animals and equipment on their property, observing animals daily for signs of disease, and calling a veterinarian if animals appear sick.
"Even if you got the flu shot last year, you should get it again this year," the agency said, urging producers to contact their local public health authorities for information about any flu shot clinics in their area.
Getting the flu shot every year is important because the vaccine is reformulated annually to protect against the "most current" strains of the virus, CFIA said.
The Public Health Agency of Canada's standing recommendation is that all healthy Canadians over the age of six months get the flu shot, CFIA noted. http://www.albertafarmexpress.ca/news/cfia-urging-flu-shots-for-livestock-workers/1000749504/
Of Thailand, Dr. Tweet Piti he gave me. Advisor to the World Health Organization.
The preparedness for pandemic influenza. Provide additional information that This infection has not spread outside of North America in any way. Thailand is a sampling of some of the patients in the hospital. But still no reported resistance. The isolated strains of influenza virus to detect it. Be done in the laboratory standard and high costs to the tens of thousands of Baht I have to make an examination of the patient.
Prof. Amon style and infectious diseases, halo Association of Thailand. Infectious diseases and tropical medicine specialist. Faculty of Medicine. Hospital explains.
Vietnam: Country Has High Risk for Recombination in Circulating Virus Strains #H5N1 #H3N2 #H1N1 #Pandemic
A new strain of influenza called S-OtrH3N2 in circulation in America. Experts fear U.S. epidemiologists, because our country "available" several influenza virus strains circulating recombinant take the risk out of new flu, pandemic is very high.
In Vietnam, Ma. Nguyen Hong Ha, deputy director of the Tropical Central Hospital said: "The climate is hot and humid as in our country are favorable for growing influenza virus. Meanwhile, the U.S. had many circulating strains of influenza virus causing the risk of reassortment of influenza is very high. This has been the epidemiological experts repeatedly warned many years ago ".
According to Ma. Nguyen Hong Ha, who was suffering from ordinary influenza strain (such as influenza A (H1N1; H3N1; H3N2)) still can get a new flu strain if they recombine into a pandemic and easy. The ability of recombinant often by patients simultaneously infected with both influenza virus type 2, which then recombine the new flu strain, often aggressive, far more dangerous.
"Most feared H5N1 strain associated with H1N1 strains. Because the H1N1 strain can spread rapidly, while the combination of more powerful deadly H5N1 strain will form a highly toxic strain of influenza. The risks of poisoning pandemic, spread on a large scale is quite worrying "- MS. Nguyen Hong Ha said.
In this situation, according to experts epidemiology, we need proactive prevention, sample, vigilance for early detection of new influenza strains.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) on Monday reopened upgraded poultry sections in Dong Ha Market in the central province of Quang Tri, the Vietnam News Agency reported.
The opening of the sections is the result of a partnership between USAID's Avian and Pandemic Influenza Initiative and provincial authorities.
USAID provided VND900 million (US$42,800) for the VND1.1 billion project, which started in September 2011.
The project built two separate sections: one for live poultry with 14 household vendors and another for processed poultry products with seven household vendors.
Vendors in the two sections must comply with regulations on poultry slaughter and trade to reduce disease risks for poultry vendors and consumers, and to improve food safety and biosecurity.
The Avian and Pandemic Influenza Initiative was implemented in October 2009 and will last until September 2012.
The project was conducted in Can Tho City and Ha Nam, Hung Yen, Kien Giang and Quang Tri provinces and will be rolled out in other provinces.
In related news, the Department of Animal Health announced on Monday that the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus was eliminated from poultry in Nghe An Province, the last locality in the country with an H5N1 outbreak.
That means Vietnam has successfully stamped out the H5N1 virus, the department said.
Vietnam Health Ministry on Monday asked epidemic institutes to prepare for a new subtype of “swine flu” virus that can enter country.
The statement was made by the ministry’s Preventive Health Department after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, on November 23 announced three more cases infected with the new subtype.
The virus has been named S-OtrH3N2, which is a combination of the two subtypes of influenza A virus H1N1 and H3N2, the latter found in pigs.
Nguyen Tran Hien, head of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, said the institute’s flu control centers around the country is taking samples of flu patients every day to check for the new virus subtype.
December 8, 2011
The Health Ministry’s Preventive Health Department has requested institutes for hygiene and epidemiology and Pasteur institutes nationwide to take active measures to prevent a new swine flu strain from penetrating Vietnam.
The request was made after three more people in the US were found to have contracted S-OtrH3N2, a new flu strain that combines parts of a rare influenza virus – H3N2 – circulating in North American pigs, and the H1N1 virus from the 2009 worldwide flu outbreak.
Nine US children and a 58-year-old man have been sickened by the new swine flu strain since July, and seven of the patients have a history of living near or directly contacting pigs, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported.
New flu strains develop when flu viruses combine in new ways. They can pose health risks because people have not yet developed immunity to these previously unseen strands, the CDC said.
In order to prevent the new flu strain from spreading to Vietnam, the Preventive Health Department has asked all hygiene and epidemiology and Pasteur institutes to strengthen health quarantines at all border gates and pay due attention to people who develop fever and other flu symptoms.
All health facilities must monitor patients with serious pneumonia, especially cases suspected to be caused by flu viruses, to detect and identify the flu virus strain and thereby take measures to cope with it effectively and efficiently.
The situation of flu patient treatment must be updated to facilitate the prevention and control of the disease, the Department said.
Currently, Vietnam only has vaccines against the common seasonal flu caused by type A flu strains, including H3N1, H3N2 and H1N1, but people should still be vaccinated, since if a vaccinated person still contracts the flu, their condition usually remains better than someone who has not been vaccinated.
The 2009 A/H1N1 flu epidemic first broke out in North America, specifically in Mexico, and then spread to Europe and Asia, including Vietnam.
Since May 2009, more than 10,000 people in Vietnam have been infected with A/H1N1, of whom over 50 have died, the Department said.
A New Zealand university has received World Bank funding to develop an on-line project to fight animal-borne diseases that can transmit to humans, such as bird flu and rabies, in South Asia.
The World Bank has given the Massey University 5 million NZ dollars (3.9 million U.S. dollars) to fight zoonotic diseases through the development of joint disease investigations and "One Health Hubs" to link with other specialists across South Asia.
The project is part of an education program to strengthen Asian public health and veterinary capacity to fight zoonotic diseases, such as avian influenza, rabies, brucellosis and anthrax, said a statement from the university.
The just completed first phase of program saw 67 health professionals from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Nepal trained in epidemiology concepts as part of the university's Master of Veterinary Medicine (Biosecurity) and Master of Public Health (Biosecurity) degrees.
The development of One Health Hubs would help the graduates link with their professional colleagues in the South Asia region to combat real-world problems in joint investigations.
One Health Hub project manager Dr. Peter Jolly said in the statement that the One Health Hub network had trained specialists in each country who would lead projects focused on important zoonotic diseases in their countries.
"Through building intellectual capacity in the region, control of endemic and emerging zoonotic diseases, such as avian influenza, can be undertaken using an integrated approach that involves both veterinary and public health specialists," said Jolly.
An online meeting point HubNet was being devised to provide a forum and the resources needed to carry out the projects.
"HubNet gives participants an operational framework," said Jolly. "The online forum will provide them the space to interact with one another and also give them access to an e-library, disease database, communications and reporting tools, and a learning management system."
Once hub members began work on a project they could efficiently identify sampling or experimental work that needed to be carried out and be mentored through to its completion.
"We want these projects to influence policy and have a real impact," said Jolly.
The World Bank grant would help cover One Health Hub activities to the end of 2013, when the hub participants should have the experience necessary to maintain the collaborative environment provided by HubNet with less reliance on the Massey University, said project director Dr. Eric Neumann.
"The idea is to create enough value in the HubNet environment that the early participants are motivated to adopt it as their own, " said Neumann in the statement.
- (08 December 2011)
- As researchers map the stable parts of the proteins that stud the surface of influenza, the decades-long quest for a universal flu vaccine is showing signs of progress.
While the eyes of flu researchers were focused on Asian bird markets in 2009, a pandemic began to emerge at the opposite end of the world in Mexico and California: H1N1 influenza, a version of the 1918 flu virus circulating in pigs for nearly a century, had suddenly leaped back into the human population, which now lacked herd immunity. The virus took the world by surprise.
It took months to develop a vaccine matched to H1N1— too long to thwart the pandemic, which peaked in March 2009 and then again in early November, 2009. “We were fortunate that the virus was not really a nasty bastard and did not kill so many people,” says virologist Robert Webster, whose laboratory at St Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, tracks flu viruses and guides the development of flu vaccines to stop them. “If we had an H5N1 virus that was transmitting from human to human: God help us! We would have run out of antivirals almost overnight.”
The 2009 outbreak reignited the hunt for a universal vaccine. In contrast to the seasonal flu jab or infection, the spreading pandemic virus, because it was so unlike its predecessors, elicited more cross-reactive, broadly neutralizing antibodies than usual — and now scientists had the technology to find them. One patient even managed to make an antibody that could inactivate all 16 subtypes of the influenza type A virus — the so-called FI6 antibody. (Type A influenza is the most virulent kind, and is responsible for virtually all major human flu outbreaks.)
It was, however, a rare find. Antonio Lanzavecchia, an immunologist at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Bellinzona, Switzerland, and his colleagues had to screen 104,000 white blood cells (B cells) collected from eight donors until they found one cell that produced the FI6 antibody. FI6 binds to hemagglutinins representative of all the 16 subtypes of type A influenza, including the H1N1 swine flu and avian influenza H5N1, as well as to the more common H3N2 strains. In theory, this FI6 antibody provides a blueprint for designing a one-size-fits-all shot. “People have been searching for it forever,” says Webster. “Now, it looks as if the Holy Grail for flu really might be achievable.”
The flu virus can skillfully play a chess-like game with the human immune system. Its surface is packed with varieties of two main proteins: neuraminidase and hemagglutinin. Hemagglutinin in particular plays two vital roles: its stem contains the machinery that allows the virus to fuse with host cells; while flashy loops on its globular head act as decoys. To an antibody, each virus appears to be covered with something resembling a dense tropical forest. The freely moving chains of amino acids through the treetops offer alluring binding sites. But these chains mutate and alter their shapes rapidly. The antibody that the host's immune system tailors to fit into the branches of one virus will be limited to that virus, and not work against any new influenza.
Because existing flu vaccines mimic a natural infection, they fall into the same trap: even if our body manages to make a few broadly neutralizing antibodies they are vastly outnumbered by strain-specific ones that bind to the globular head — and most people have to get a flu shot each year to regain immunity.
To sidestep the trap, the immune system would need to refocus its attack, perhaps onto the bases of the trees: a highly stable region of the hemagglutinin stem that tends to stay the same even after the virus mutates. FI6 and most other cross-reactive antibodies push their way in and go for these hard-to-find targets. “This is the first time that an antibody can neutralize every single influenza virus,” says Rino Rappuoli, head of vaccines research at Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis. But while calling FI6 a “milestone”, Rappuoli is cautious about seeing it as the key to making a universal vaccine. “That's tough,” he says. “We don't know how to do it yet, but it is a dream that can come true.”
Root of the problem
There are two ways to use broadly reactive antibodies: as a passive immunization to treat severely ill patients who did not respond to antivirals, or as a template to develop a prophylactic vaccine for everyone. The latter is the more difficult task — it requires sophisticated engineering of the antibody to derive a protein that not only fits the antibody's binding site but also manages to coax the human immune system into producing enough ammunition to prevent infection. Many researchers favour starting with the first option. “It's effective, it's extremely broad, and it's human — there should be no problem injecting antibodies into humans,” says Lanzavecchia. “To be frank, our first goal is to use the antibody as a therapeutic.”
“When we understand the basics behind this biology we will be in the driver's seat to design a lot of vaccines.”
Gary Nabel, director of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Bethesda, Maryland, agrees on the difficulty in making a universal preventative flu vaccine. “We've been doing similar work with HIV,” he says. Creating a prophylactic vaccine “sounds simple, but it takes time.” The challenge, then, is in creating a vaccine that will induce this specific yet unnatural response. Even if one presents a specific site of a protein to the immune system, there are many ways in which antibodies can bind to it. “That's clearly an important problem to solve for any infectious disease, and flu can be our poster child,” says Nabel. “When we understand the basics behind this biology we will be in the driver's seat to design a lot of vaccines that could be very, very promising.”
While eliciting 'anti-stem' antibodies in humans is difficult, it is not impossible. Nabel and his team were the first to apply a so-called prime-boost approach in humans to achieve this goal. This technique entails giving a combination of two vaccines administered in sequence to induce the strongest immune response possible against a broad array of influenza strains, including H5N1, H5N2 and H9N2. The priming shot was a DNA vaccine: small, circular pieces of bacterial DNA genetically engineered to code for a specific protein that targets an avian flu hemagglutinin. Then, 24-weeks later, volunteers were given a booster vaccine made of whole inactivated H5N1 virus. This regimen enhanced the immune response against avian flu. In addition, three individuals were able to make broadly neutralizing antibodies directed at the hemagglutinin stem, a result that Nabel says is a “proof of concept” for a universal influenza vaccine.
The mice in microbiologist Peter Palese's lab at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York are already protected against various flu strains by experimental, prophylactic flu vaccines. Palese has shown that two truncated versions of hemagglutinin, one with its globular head chopped off and the other only partly expressed, work better than full-length hemagglutinin, but they're not perfect: they offer good protection against H3 strains of influenza virus, but they are weaker against H1. Moreover, Palese echoes the familiar caution from anyone working with animal models: “It's promising,” he says, “but mice are not men”.
Nonetheless, scientists and vaccine companies around the world are hard at work. Advances in high-throughput technology allow them to screen individual B cells from healthy volunteers or patients and search for rare antibodies. In 2008, a group based at the Dutch company Crucell was the first to find broadly neutralizing antibodies against influenza in humans. Apart from exploring therapeutic approaches, they are also trying to vaccinate rodents with conserved viral structures.
Normally, the immune system overlooks the virus's stem (because it's a target that's hard to see and to get to) and produces instead many antibodies that target the viral protein's head. Most broadly neutralizing antibodies, on the other hand, bind to conserved domains on the stem. Crucell is trying to recreate these conserved areas and expose them to the immune system to induce the production of broadly neutralizing antibodies. It's crucial to use the right binding domain, because otherwise the antibody might be just as strain-specific as anything that binds to the head. “We know that we can rebuild the stem in a way that it looks like the binding domain,” explains Crucell immunologist Katarina Radosevic. But the question is how to rebuild these structures in a stable form so that they can induce an immune response in animals. “It's a complex task,” Radosevic says. “You can't just chop off a part of a molecule and expect the rest to fold and function the same way .”
In the pocket
Recently, another target for a universal vaccine was discovered, one that is conserved but does not hide away in the protein folds. At the crown of hemagglutinin's globular head is the receptor-binding pocket, which allows the virus to infect host cells. With minor modifications, this pocket has the same structure on all the 16 subtypes of hemagglutinin. But the pocket is tiny — much smaller than a typical antibody. Nobody expected it to be a good vaccine target, and yet this appears to be the case.
To get snapshots of how the immune system reacts to the seasonal vaccine, researchers from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, screened antibodies from volunteers several times after vaccination. One of these anti-bodies, dubbed CH65, seemed to be a little more effective than others. The Duke team sent the information to Stephen Harrison, a structural biologist at Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, for analysis. “We were surprised to find that it docks to the receptor-binding pocket,” says Harrison. “About half of the contacts are with amino acid residues in the pocket itself. The degree and intimacy of mimicry is striking.”
What's more, point mutations in the area surrounding the pocket did not hinder the antibody from docking. When the researchers tested the antibody against 36 strains of H1 that had circulated within the last three decades, it blocked 30 of them. “Over 30 years of evolution of the virus, there were hardly any mutations that had a strong effect on binding,” Harrison says. Another possibility, he adds, is that since 1977, the antibody arose so rarely that the virus did not have to escape its attack.
Harrison's research interest is not so much the creation of a universal flu vaccine as in advancing the basic science of affinity maturation: When exposed to the same antigens time and again, the immune system produces antibodies with slight mutations that will bind much more effectively to the invader. But why do some small changes make such a difference to the immune response — and how can one induce them?
While some scientists are busy mapping the conserved regions on the hemagglutinin molecule, others are still investigating existing vaccine targets that had for many years been the only ones available. These include the ion channel M2, the matrix protein 1 (M1) and the nucleoprotein that the virus needs to keep its genome stable. “We have known about these conserved proteins for at least 20 years,” says Rappuoli. While acknowledging that “theoretically” one might prove to be a good target for a universal vaccine, he says that “there hasn't been much progress” on these fronts.
Many companies are still pursuing these targets. VaxInnate, a biotech company in Cranbury, New Jersey, has engineered a hybrid molecule that consists of four copies of M2e — part of the ion channel M2 that sits on the virus surface — fused into the bacterial protein flagellin. VaxInnate recently reported that its vaccine, called Vax102, safely produces an immune response in humans that should be protective against all strains of influenza A. DynaVax, a biotech company in Berkeley, California, has fused M2e and nucleoprotein to create a vaccine candidate called N895; the goal is to encourage antibodies against M2e as well as T cells against the nucleoprotein. Acambis,the UK biotech company based in Cambridge, now owned by Sanofi Pasteur of Lyon, France, evaluated its own M2e vaccine in a phase I study in 2008 and found that it was immunogenic against influenza A, and well-tolerated. The company also conducted another study that it says showed the vaccine protecting about 70% of ferrets against bird flu.
Further development has stagnated. Sanofi Pasteur is hesitant about moving its M2e vaccine to phase II trials. “M2e alone is unlikely to be better then the current seasonal vaccines,” says Jeffrey Almond, Sanofi's vice president for discovery research and external R&D. “So we stepped back a little and thought about what we could add to M2e. There is no reason why a universal vaccine shouldn't have multiple components.” Meanwhile, Merck, based in New Jersey, has halted its own trials.
A different tack
Another path toward a universal vaccine involves not trying to elicit antibodies, but rather boosting the body's T-cell response to infection. While antibodies prevent the virus from infecting host cells, T cells help to clear the virus from the body by killing flu-infected cells. That's the approach being pursued by vaccin-ologist Sarah Gilbert at the Jenner Institute — a vaccine research organization based at Oxford University in the UK. Gilbert uses an attenuated poxvirus called MVA, which presents the flu nucleoprotein and M1 to the immune system. As a result, Gilbert reports, “we saw a very large peak in T-cell response — everybody improved.” This T-cell-mediated immunity might provide another line of defense against flu, possibly in combination with a protein vaccine that targets the stem of the hemagglutinin. Gilbert invited 11 vaccinated volunteers and 11 non-vaccinated volunteers to a quarantine facility. To test their vaccine, the researchers dripped H3N2 into the noses of their subjects and monitored their flu symptoms as well as their T-cell response.
“We boost what people already have. We are not trying to prime new responses.”
Combining Gilbert's vaccine with the seasonal flu shot yields a preparation that boosts not only T cells but also the antibody response. Following vaccination with the seasonal flu shot alone, young people respond well by producing antibodies, whereas the same vaccine is less effective in older people. “Using both vaccines together might be extremely useful for vaccinating the elderly,” Gilbert says. Usually, the seasonal flu jabs don't work as well for older people, because their immune response diminishes quickly, and it becomes more and more difficult to make new antibodies as we age. “We boost what people already have,” Gilbert explains. “We are not trying to prime new responses.”
Even a potent universal protein vaccine modelled after the perfect antibody would not change the fact that different age groups react differently to a flu jab. Thus a once-in-a-lifetime shot that protect against all strains might never be achieved for everyone: “The question is what universal means,” says Rappuoli. “Should it cover all the pandemic strains and the seasonal strains? That's almost impossible. But it's OK to have a dream to move forward.”
HA NOI — The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development yesterday launched the National Co-ordinated Action Programme on Avian Influenza, Pandemics Preparedness and Emerging Infectious Diseases (AIPED) for the 2011-2015 period.
The programme will focus on improving and enhancing the capacity to monitor and respond to infectious diseases, and to diagnose them in labs. It will also focus on improving treatment and preparedness, and expanding citizen awareness through the mass media to control disease outbreaks and recurrence.
It is also aimed at timely discovery and response to new human and animal diseases and preparedness for any epidemics that affect humans.
The Partnership Conference on Avian and Human Pandemic Influenza was also held to call for more support from the international community to help Viet Nam deal with the issue. Viet Nam would stand side by side with the international community in building and implementing activities at international, regional and national levels, to face the risk of dangerous new epidemics on humans which are rooted on the avian flu H5N1 virus, said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Dao Xuan Hoc.
Viet Nam was among the countries hardest hit by the avian flu, but with close co-ordination from the international community the country had achieved encouraging results in preventing the disease over the past eight years, he said.
To date, Viet Nam had been able to control the circulation of the avian flu virus and reduce the number of infections in humans. However, the risk remained high so the conference was calling for further support from domestic and foreign partners to implement the AIPED and discussing orientations and challenges facing the country in responding to the diseases in the coming time, Hoc added.
Chief representative of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Viet Nam Yuriko Shoji said AIPED was set up to provide a comprehensive route and map out important milestones to maintain achievements that had already been made and to continue avian flu prevention and control activities as well as risks of other animal-to-human epidemics.She affirmed the necessity to continue responding to avian flu challenges and possible epidemics, and apply lessons from the fight against H5N1 and H1N1 to other highly infected diseases on the basis of the interaction between animals, humans and the environment.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Informed sources said that was, finally, the transfer of security guards on quickly to the center Hospital Ibn Rushd Casablanca, were guarding the estate, the region of Marrakech Tensift, witnessed the death of thousands of poultry, and after that flipped their disease and the emergence of health complications for them because of contact with direct contact with poultry.
The sources added that the veterinary committees that visited farms, announced in the summary minutes of the preview, the need for the inclusion of sick poultry in quarantine for fear of transmission of infection from poultry to people around these farms.
Prior to this, owners were surprised to estates of death of large numbers of poultry, having developed symptoms of virus-like symptoms "bird flu", but the sources of veterinary denied it, saying that the poultry Morocco protected from the virus in question.
In this regard, said Rashid Etawi Paljhh the estate itself, that more than 30 thousand chickens died at his ranch in a matter of only 3 days, the number likely to rise in the coming days, as that since about half a month doubled the number of dead poultry in the region, which raised concerns of residents and owners of estates appalled.
Atawi said, who owns a ranch in the area Acodar Bomzmes of the point of Marrakech Tensift in a telephone interview with the "morning", said the symptoms of the disease, which infected poultry in the appeared in the adoption of feed, a French company settled about two months ago in Marrakech, so they put them in a circle the charge.
Did not come accusing feed company in vain, as he pointed out the same, they provided the owners of farms feed is contrary to the laws in force in the fields of health and agriculture, adding that, during the beginning of the contract with the owners of estates provided them with bags of feed does not carry any reference to the factory or the expiry date.
The spokesman confirmed the same that after the adoption of the feed in question began to symptoms of the disease appear on the poultry that died of large numbers, adding that the remaining numbers can be infected with the disease itself, and therefore the owners of estates considering disposal, which will cause considerable material damage.
, The rejection of the owners of poultry estates in Marrakech Tensift hand, provide the poultry markets because of what they called "pandemic" killed them, as that could threaten the safety of citizens.
As initiated by the owners of poultry estates, after the outbreak of the problem, write to the Attorney General in order to issue instructions to discuss the deaths of poultry and stand on the real motive.
15:30 | 08.12.2011
8:12 this morning, in Hanoi, the framework for the prevention of avian and human influenza (PAHI) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Health conference to introduce the entire program to coordinate actions national bird flu prevention, epidemic prevention and emerging infectious diseases (AIPED), the period from 2011 to 2015.
At the conference, participants identified and discussed the main orientations for the agriculture sector, health sector and partners in the next stage and determine the international assistance has been committed and the potential support for program implementation AIPED. Overarching goal of the program is to minimize risks to people and animals before the influenza A (H5N1) and other emerging infectious diseases by controlling root infections and implementation of appropriate measures to prevent the emergence / re-emerging diseases, detecting and responding quickly and efficiently the new cases occur and the impact the disease in humans and animals, increases the standard of medical devices and external health before the epidemic in humans.
Reportedly, the framework for the prevention of avian and human influenza (PAHI) was established on 11.01.2006 between the Government of Vietnam (represented by the National Steering Committee for Prevention of avian flu) and representatives other UN agencies, bilateral donors and multilateral, non-governmental organizations and research institutions to support the implementation of the program to coordinate national action against bird flu the period 2006 - 2010, or commonly known as the Green Book.
Amid fear of possible symptoms of bird flu in humans, health officials on Wednesday said the threat of the flu in humans is almost over. It has been eight days and no influenza like symptoms (ILS) have been reported, Narayan Ghimire, senior veterinary doctor at Veterinary Epidemiology Centre, said.
The centre, after confirming bird flu (H5N1virus) outbreak at a small-scale poultry farm, had slaughtered over 300 chickens and ducks on November 29 at Madhyapur Thimi Municipality in Bhaktapur district. Following the cull, there had been speculations about the possible transmission of the virus into humans.
Keeping this in mind, the government on December 1 had formed a seven-member Rapid Response Team that kept people in the outbreak area under surveillance for 8 days. Also the Cabinet on December 2 had declared the western area of Lokanthali, the Manahara bridge area and slums adjoining the bridge a ‘bird-flu emergency zone.
“If anyone has fear of developing bird flu like symptoms or chickens die en masse, people can call us at 01-4261165 and our toll-free number 16600142669,” Ghimire said. The symptoms of the disease include high fever, cough, sore throat, muscle ache and difficulty in breathing.
Posted on: 2011-12-08 09:08
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Ebola Virus Vaccine 80 Percent Effective In Mice: Study
Charles Arntzen, a researcher at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, reported that his team has found a vaccine that fuses tobacco plants with an antibody, creating a stable vaccine. None of the previous vaccine candidates were able to withstand the long-term storage needed in case of an attack.
"All of these existing vaccine candidates are genetically modified live viruses," Arntzen said in a news release. "If you've got something that you're going to have to keep at liquid nitrogen temperatures for years at a time, in hopes that there will never be an outbreak, it makes it impractical. "
The rare African virus overwhelms the immune system, causing multiple organ failures and eventually killing 90 percent of its victims.
The UN's World Health Organization (WHO) reports that about 1,850 cases of Ebola have occured since 1976, with some 1,200 deaths.
Arntzen's team took a protein from the virus and joined it with an antibody that recognizes it and produced an immune complex in tobacco plants.
They injected it into the mice along with another chemical called PIC. Eight in 10 mice survived an Ebola infection. All those who were infected that did not receive the vaccine died.
Arntzen said more research is needed to prove the vaccine's effectiveness and safety in humans, but that the vaccine could potentially be stockpiled in case of a bioterrorism attack on the U.S.
The study appeared Dec. 5 online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A 48-year-old man was diagnosed with iatrogenic CJD (iCJD) on Wednesday, according to the Center for Disease Control. The person's identity was withheld for privacy reasons.
The report of the country's second-ever iCJD case comes after a 54-year-old woman was found last month to have died from the same disease that is often transmitted by the use of defective prion proteins found in surgical tissue graft products.
The woman had received brain surgery using Lyodura, a tissue graft product, some 23 years ago. The KCDC said the man in the latest case had also received Lyodura during brain surgery in 1988.
This form of CJD has an incubation period of more than 20 years but once symptoms occur, death usually takes place within a year.
CJD is the most common of so-called human prion diseases with one person in every 1 million diagnosed each year worldwide. It is an invariably fatal illness with death occurring after the onset of dementia, hallucinations, coordination dysfunction and seizures.
The animal form of the disease is called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) which is commonly called mad cow disease. BSE also leaves holes in the brain that resemble a sponge.