The Handoff: Your Week in Infectious Disease News – 6/23/17

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 have uncovered 8 of 15 proteins essential for the assembly process of type IV pili filaments (TFP) which pathogenic bacteria use to colonize their hosts. The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, used E coli bacteria to uncover the crucial proteins needed for making filaments. Further research needs to be done to understanding how bacteria make the filaments in order to develop drugs to target the proteins, disrupting how the bacteria construct TFP. 

— Glutamine supplements can suppress the reactivation of herpes simplex virus in mice and guinea pigs. Scientists at the NIH suggest that glutamine supplementation may increase T-cell function and improve infection control. 

— Targeting the gene-regulating protein Bdf1 may help combat the deadly Candida albicans fungal infection. Research published in Nature Communications found that compounds that bind to the Bdf1 protein could disrupt fungus growth, allowing for a new approach for antifungal drug treatments.

— The High-risk Influenza Screen Test is the first of its kind to identify which influenza patients need urgent care. The blood test measures an ‘early warning signal’ released by the patient’s body to determine high risk influenza patients within a few hours and with 91% accuracy.  

— Supplements from gut bacteria may be the key to slowing down the aging process. Scientists at Baylor College of medicine found bacterial genes and compounds that extend the life of laboratory worms, C elegans. The preclinical study also slowed the progression of tumors and the accumulation of amyloid-beta, a compound linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

— Increasing temperatures are making it easier for malaria to spread in the highlands of Ethiopia. The study published in Environmental Research Letters used a novel national temperature dataset for Ethiopia going back to 1981 to report on the statistically significant increases in threshold temperature.

— Physician adherence to guidelines for treating patients with Helicobacter pylori is reportedly low. Research published in Preventive Medicine states that only 58% of physicians checked to ensure that H pylori was eradicated after treating infected patients.

— A research team from Wayne State University will test the role of microRNAs, a new level of gene expression regulation, in bacterial keratitis, an infection of the cornea, after receiving a $1.925 million grant from NIH. The researchers hope for the development of treatment for corneal bacterial infections in contact lens users and for soldiers injured in battle.

— The NIH is conducting research to examine the neurologic, neurodevelopmental, and other clinical outcomes of Zika virus infection in infants and young children infected with Zika after birth in Guatemala.

— Around 37% of heater-cooler units assessed between July 2015 and December 2016 tested positive for Mycobacterium chimaera. The heater-cooler units are used to control the temperature of a patient’s blood and organ’s during heart bypass surgery. The FDA and the CDC have previously issued warnings that the heater-cooler units may have been contaminated during manufacturing.