The Handoff: Your Week in Infectious Disease News – 5/19/17

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.

— Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco have discovered an enzyme that could “flush out” HIV. SMYD2 is a key regulating enzyme that can reactivate latent HIV. The study, published in Cell Host and Microbe, explains how researchers aim to use SMYD2 as a target in a “shock and kill strategy.”

— Two studies of DAR-901, an investigational tuberculosis vaccine developed at the Dartmouth College Geisel School of Medicine, are moving forward in development. The preclinical study results show that protection against subsequent TB was greater with the 3-injection DAR-901 booster than with the bacilli Calmette-Guerin (BCG) booster.

— A cholera outbreak in the capital of Yemen has killed at least 180 people. Authorities in Sana’a have declared a state of emergency as 11,000 suspected cholera cases have been reported.

— A study led by investigators at Stanford University found that transmission of mosquito-borne diseases occurs at a lower temperature than previously thought. Transmission of dengue, chikungunya, and Zika is highest at 84, not 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Researchers believe this revelation could potentially expand impact of mosquito-borne diseases. 

— Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that HIV uses extracellular vesicles (EVs) — nano-sized structures released by infected cells — to infect new cells. The investigators note that the cells, once infected with HIV, produce EVs that manipulate host cells, passing the infection along. 

— A dengue candidate vaccine is safe and immunogenic in adults previously exposed to flavivirus. The live-attenuated tetravalent dengue vaccine TV003 is expected to be evaluated in dengue virus-endemic settings, according to the study published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

— Certain antibiotics used to treat common bacterial infections, including intravenous flucloxacillin, intravenous fosfomycin, and ticarcillin-clavulanic acid, have become more difficult to access. In an article published in Clinical Microbiology and Infection, researchers note that common antibiotics used to treat infants and children have become less profitable for manufacturers to produce and market, thus leading to ineffective alternatives.

— Researchers at the National Taiwan Ocean University are experimenting with  non-toxic mixture of chitin-rich crab shell powder and nanosized silver particles as a method to curb both malaria and the spread of disease carrying mosquitoes.

New oral medications for hepatitis C virus (HCV) have successfully treated 66 patients at Boston Medical Center’s Adult Primary Care Practice. The study, published in Annals of Family Medicine shows the potential of HCV treatment expansion, primarily in underserved communities.

— The “War on Drugs” has been unsuccessful in reducing drug use in the United States, making efforts to prevent and treat people with HIV difficult, according to a study published in The Lancet. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that more than 80% of studies evaluating drug criminalization demonstrated worse health outcomes for participants targeted by drug laws.