The Handoff: Your Week in Infectious Disease News – 4/14/17

As infectious diseases evolve, it can be challenging to stay current with the latest research. The Handoff is a weekly roundup of the most important news and updates covering the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases. Keep your finger on the pulse of infectious diseases with The Handoff.

— Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a new way to rapidly diagnose influenza and other viral infections in patients with severe respiratory conditions using a swab test. The ‘point-of-care’ testing involves a portable device combined with a rapid molecular test that can immediately process swabs, allowing results to be delivered within the hour as opposed to a number of days, shorten the courses of antibiotics, and lower inpatient care time. Findings were published in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

— A common antibiotic may possibly help to treat or prevent post-traumatic stress disorder according to researchers at the University College London and the University of Zurich. The study, published in Molecular Psychiatry, showed that doxycycline can disrupt the formation of negative associations in the brain.

— The National Institutes of Health awarded researchers at Case Western Reserve University a 5-year, $1.59 million grant to investigate and treat chronic oral inflammation in patients undergoing HIV treatment. The researchers hope the study will lead to new ways to fight HIV-related diseases.

— A dual vaccine against yellow fever and rabies is now in the works. The RABYD-VAX consortium, led by the KU Leuven Laboratory of Virology, has set out to develop an easy to produce, affordable, temperature-stable vaccine to protect against both diseases at once.

— An observational study published in Gut found that long-term use of antibiotics in early to mid-life could result in polyps or colorectal adenomas, abnormal bowel cancer inducing growths. The researchers found that participants who had taken antibiotics in their 20s and 30s for more than 2 months were 36% more likely to be diagnosed with an adenoma.

— Two doses of a therapeutic candidate, MR191-N (a monoclonal antibody derived from a person who survived Marburg disease) conferred up to 100% protection of guinea pigs and rhesus monkeys in late stages of infection with lethal levels of Marburg and Ravn viruses. Findings from the study have been published in Science Translational Medicine.

— A new form of “pegylated” interferon-β was able to reduce hepatitis B virus infections in experimental human-derived cells and mice more effectively than the conventional pegylated interferon-α2a, according to a study published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. The novel agent, known by the alpha-numeric TRK-560, could play a role in the development of more effective treatment for chronic hepatitis B infection.

— Researchers from INRS-Institut Arman-Frappier Research Centre reported on a strategy that could lead to the discovery new cationic antimicrobial peptides with enhanced antimicrobial properties. The modified peptide was shown to retain considerable activity against biofilms responsible for increasing the severity of certain infections, according to the study published in PLoS One.

— National Institute on Drug Abuse announced 3 recipients of 2017 Avant-Garde Award for HIV/AIDS Research. The winning proposals will focus on improving HIV prevention through effective gene therapies, enhancing innate immunity against HIV and other related viruses, and developing new small-molecule drugs to treat HIV-1 infection. Subject to the availability of funds, the 3 scientists will each receive $500,000 per year for 5 years to support their research.

— Researchers at George Mason University designed a synthetic peptide, called DRGN-1, based on a histone H1-derived peptide from the Komodo dragon to evaluate antimicrobial and anti-biofilm activity. DRGN-1 was effective against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus and may be a future candidate for treating infected wounds, according to a study published in npj Biofilms and Microbiomes.

— According to a study published in Science, researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have found that individuals infected with dengue and West Nile viruses are at risk of having an enhanced disease if they are infected with the Zika virus. To find out more, see video below.

Video Credit: Mount Sinai Health System