The Handoff: Your Week in Infectious Disease News – 4/21/17

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 from the Boston University School of Medicine have discovered a protein that may enhance the effectiveness of vaccines and provide protection against other diseases like cancer. The study, published in Scientific Reports, discusses the purified protein, PorB, which can help increase the amount of antibody production or stimulate cytotoxic T cells to clear pathogens or tumors. 

— Current CDC and WHO guidelines for the safe disposal of liquid waste from patients being treated for the Ebola virus may not do enough to protect water treatment workers from being exposed to the virus via inhalation. Researchers, from Drexel University and the University of Pittsburg, hope their findings can contribute to revised guidelines to limit a water treatment worker’s exposure to the virus.

Nine cases of Angiostrongylus cantonensis, rat lungworm disease, have been confirmed by the Hawaii State Department of Health in Maui and the Big Island in the past 3 months. The disease is transmitted by consuming raw or undercooked snails, slugs or other transport hosts and is not contagious from human to human. The CDC reports that a high blood level of eosinophils, could indicate infection.

— A study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases states that a decade after the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in China, infection rates have steadied but common infections are rapidly growing. Researchers at Zhejiang University in China reported the need to improve screening, vector control, and immunization, and reducing treatment costs in order to counter the rise in hepatitis C, hydatid disease, syphilis, and HIV infection.

— DesignMedix Inc. has entered into an agreement with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, for the first human clinical trials of their malaria drug, DM1157. The malaria drug is designed to kill the malaria parasite and block drug resistance. The clinical trials are expected to end in late 2017.

— Themis Bioscience is testing the first live attenuated recombinant Zika vaccine on human volunteers. The study is expected to focus on indentifying suitable doses of the vaccine candidate with respect to immunogenicity, safety, and tolerability.

— Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have found a way to make cells resistant to HIV by tethering HIV-fighting antibodies to immune cells, creating a cell population resistant to the virus. Findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

— Researchers from the University of Freiburg in Germany have developed transgenic mice to help identify new influenza virus strains that could potentially cause a global pandemic. By successfully developing transgenic mice that express the human immune protein, MxA, the researchers are able to access risk of emerging influenza viruses.

— Scotland has become one of only a handful of countries worldwide that have approved government payment for HIV-1 prevention drug emtricitabine/tenofovir disproxil (Truvada®) for adults who are at high risk of being infected.

–In a recent study published in Nature Microbiology, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai showed how dengue virus employs multiple techniques to avoid detection. For more information, watch video below:

Video Credit: Mount Sinai Health System