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Today's Headlines: April 12, 2018

Biologcal Agents & Infectious Diseases 

New Findings on Zika Virus in Semen May Alter CDC Guidance ( CIDRAP) A study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine sheds more light on how long the Zika virus lives in semen and may change the current recommendations for precautions against sexual transmission of the flavivirus. Go to article

See also: Zika Virus Shedding in Semen of Symptomatic Infected Men ( New England Journal of Medicine) Zika virus is an emerging mosquito-borne flavivirus that has been linked to adverse birth outcomes. Previous reports have shown that person-to-person transmission can occur by means of sexual contact. Go to article


Global Health Security

Reemergence of Human Monkeypox in Nigeria, 2017 ( Emerging Infectious Diseases) In Nigeria, before 2017 the most recent case of human monkeypox had been reported in 1978. By mid-November 2017, a large outbreak caused by the West African clade resulted in 146 suspected cases and 42 laboratory-confirmed cases from 14 states. Although the source is unknown, multiple sources are suspected. Go to article

Fighting Lassa: Five Lessons from Three Special Hospitals Managing Most Cases of Lassa Fever in Nigeria ( Nigeria Health Watch) Nigeria is currently witnessing its largest Lassa Fever outbreak in history. Since the first case of the virus was identified in a missionary nurse working in the village of Lassa in Borno State in 1969, cases have continued to increase in Nigeria, mostly in the states of Edo, Ondo, and Ebonyi. The anxiety associated with cases has created panic in many parts of the country and affected hospital operations across the country. In tackling this Lassa fever outbreak, three specialist hospitals have emerged and grown in capacity and expertise to manage Lassa fever. Go to article

Despite High Hopes for Polio Eradication, Discouraging News Is Piling up ( STAT) Every year for the past few years, supporters of the global effort to wipe out polio have made an optimistic declaration: This could be the year that polio ends. And this year, the 30th anniversary of the launch of the ambitious program, was no exception. But just three months into 2018, the projection is less rosy. Go to article


Medicine & Public Health

The Public Doesn't Take Flu Seriously Enough ( Scientific American) As the nation experiences one of the worst flu seasons in years, thousands of Americans have already died from influenza or pneumonia (the viruses can work in tandem), according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though the season peaked in February, the CDC recently warned that we should prepare for a second wave of cases to hit before we emerge from the season entirely. Now, it appears more than 50,000 could die from the flu before the season ends. Go to article

The FDA Breakthrough-drug Designation - Four Years of Experience ( New England Journal of Medicine) In 2012, Congress created the "breakthrough therapy" designation to expedite Food and Drug Administration testing and approval of medications that were intended to treat serious or life-threatening conditions and that preliminary evidence suggested may provide a substantial improvement over existing treatments with regard to one or more clinically significant end points. The creation of this designation was motivated by the concept that advances in precision medicine would enable the development of therapies with large treatment effects that were seen early, such that random assignment to receive placebo might be unethical and phase 2 trials could provide sufficient evidence for approval. Go to article

Sanofi Ups the Ante in Vaccines - Big-Time - with New 350M Euro Plant ( Fierce Pharma) Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt took a hard look at the French drugmaker's operations after he took the helm- and he put its vaccines business front and center in the company's growth plans. Nothing confirms that decision more obviously than what Sanofi rolled out Thursday: plans for a brand-new 350 million Euro vaccine plant in Canada, one of the company's largest-ever investments in a single facility. Go to article


Science & Technology

Gene Editing for Good ( Foreign Affairs) Today, more people are living healthy, productive lives than ever before. This good news may come as a surprise, but there is plenty of evidence for it. Since the early 1990s, global child mortality has been cut in half. There have been massive reductions in cases of tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. The incidence of polio has decreased by 99 percent, bringing the world to the verge of eradicating a major infectious disease, a feat humanity has accomplished only once before, with smallpox. The proportion of the world's population in extreme poverty, defined by the World Bank as living on less than $1.90 per day, has fallen from 35 percent to about 11 percent. Go to article

The Race to Find the Next Pandemic - Before It Finds Us ( Wired) In the past, researchers typically discovered new deadly viruses when they overwhelmed the healthcare system. A new initiative is trying to do things differently. Go to article

CRISPR Trials Are About to Begin in People - but We Still Don't Know How Well It Works in Monkeys ( MIT Technology Review) Sometime this year, people in the US and Europe will start getting treated for diseases using the gene-editing tool CRISPR, but a big question remains - will it actually work? Our primate cousins may hold the answer. Go to article


21st Century Threats

Summary of the Report on Activities Carried out in Support of a Request for Technical Assistance by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (technical assistance visit tav/02/18) ( OPCW - Technical Secretariat) The UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland requested technical assistance from the OPCW Technical Secretariat (hereinafter "the Secretariat") under subparagraph 38(e) of Article VIII of the Chemical Weapons Convention in relation to an incident in Salisbury on 4 March 2018 involving a toxic chemical - allegedly a nerve agent - and the poisoning and hospitalisation of three individuals. The Director-General decided to dispatch a team to the UK for a technical assistance visit. Go to article


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