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Technologies to Address Global Catastrophic Biological Risks
Crystal Watson, Tara Kirk Sell, Matthew Watson, Caitlin Rivers, Christopher Hurtado, Matthew Shearer, Ashley Geleta, Thomas Inglesby

This report highlights 15 technologies or categories of technologies that, with further scientific attention and investment, as well as attention to accompanying legal, regulatory, ethical, policy, and operational issues, could help make the world better prepared and equipped to prevent future infectious disease outbreaks from becoming catastrophic events.  Read now

Today's Headlines: October 10, 2018

Biological Agents & Infectious Diseases

New Ebola Cases Underscore Beni as Outbreak Epicenter ( CIDRAP) In further worrisome developments, the DRC announced 4 more Ebola cases late yesterday, including 2 deaths. There are now 181 total cases and 115 deaths in the ongoing outbreak in North Kivu province. Twenty-one cases are under investigation, the DRC Health Ministry said. Go to article

China Reports New H5N6 Bird Flu Outbreak in Hunan Province ( Reuters) China has registered a new case of H5N6 avian bird flu on a poultry farm in southern Hunan province, the Agriculture Ministry said on Tuesday. Local authorities culled 1,029 birds following the outbreak, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said in a statement on its website. The outbreak infected almost all the 519 birds in the poultry farm in Fenghuang county, Hunan, and killed 385 of them, according to the statement. Go to article

Colorado Investigates Acute Flaccid Myelitis Cases, Viral Infections with Neurologic Illness in Children ( Outbreak News Today) Year-to-date, Colorado has had 41 cases of enterovirus A71 infections associated with neurologic illness in children. In addition, as part of this outbreak, Colorado also has had 14 cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM). Of the AFM cases, 11 tested positive for enterovirus A71, 1 tested positive for enterovirus D68, and 2 tested negative for enteroviruses. Go to article

See also: Acute Flaccid Myelitis in Minnesota: An Interview with Michael Osterholm, PhD ( Outbreak News Today) Joining me today to discuss this important topic is Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH. Dr Osterholm is the Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, or CIDRAP at the University of Minnesota. Go to article

See also: UPMC Confirms 3 Suspected Cases of Rare Disease That Paralyzes Children ( TRIB Live) Three children are receiving treatment in Pittsburgh for a rare neurological disease that can lead to lifelong paralysis, UPMC officials confirmed Tuesday. Dubbed the "modern polio" disease, acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, affects less than one in 1 million people a year in the US, with just 362 confirmed cases since August 2014, the CDC reports. Most of the cases nationwide have been in children. Go to article


Domestic Preparedness & Response

HHS Secretary Azar Declares Public Health Emergency in Florida Due to Hurricane Michael ( HHS) Following President Trump's emergency declaration for Florida, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar today declared a public health emergency in the state as Hurricane Michael makes landfall. The declaration gives the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services beneficiaries and their healthcare providers and suppliers greater flexibility in meeting emergency health needs. Go to article


Global Health Security

Reducing UK Antibiotic Use in Animals ( Parliament Office of Science and Technology) Antibiotics are widely used to treat infectious disease in animals and humans. A recent government review of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) recommended reducing antibiotic use in agriculture. This POSTnote discusses the current use of antibiotics in animals and the options available for reducing that use. Go to article

Evaluating the Frequency of Operational Research Conducted During the 2014-16 West Africa Ebola Epidemic ( International Journal of Infectious Diseases) The 2014-16 West Africa Ebola epidemic was the largest Ebola outbreak on record, and thousands of individuals were involved in the response, including local and national governments as well as numerous philanthropies and other non-governmental organizations. A number of after-action reports and other reviews of the global response to the epidemic routinely pointed out key challenges, including gaps in operational research. Go to article


Medicine & Public Health

Polyclonal and Monoclonal Antibodies for the Treatment of Influenza ( Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases) This review summarizes past and ongoing efforts for using polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of influenza, and is focused on products that have entered clinical trials. Go to article

Pioneering CJD Treatment to be Used on British Patient ( BBC News) Doctors have been given permission to give a British man with CJD a pioneering treatment, in a world first. There is currently no treatment for the rare but lethal brain disease, known as the human version of "mad cow disease". Doctors in London were given permission for the trial use on a human for the first time by the Court of Protection. Scientists say lab testing of the man-made antibody has been encouraging, but they admit they do not know how their patient will respond. Go to article

The Role of Vaccines in Combating Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) ( Vaccines for AMR) Immediate and coordinated action is required to tackle the threat posed by AMR. Vaccines alone will not be sufficient to achieve this, but they are critical tools that can play an important role when deployed alongside broader activities. A multi-faceted, One Health approach must be used because the emergence of resistance stems from behaviour across human and animal health. Go to article


Science & Technology

Top 10 European Biopharma Clusters ( Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News) Europe's biotech industry recently celebrated its growth and progress with more than 120 events taking place across 18 European countries September 24-30, in what organizers call "European Biotech Week." But during a roundtable discussion held in Brussels, the planned discussion topic, biotech's contribution toward the United Nations' third Sustainable Development Goal, "Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages," was overshadowed, according to European news website Euractiv, by worries expressed by stakeholders that the continent's biopharma industry is less attractive to investors than the world's largest biopharma industry in the US, and the fast-growing biopharma industry that has taken shape in China. Go to article

Geo4Nonpro 2.0 ( Middle Institute of International Studies at Monterey) On June 16, 2018, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) launched Geo4Nonpro 2.0. With a mission to engage a "curated" crowd of satellite imagery analysis experts, Geo4Nonpro (G4N) is a tool for sharing open-source geographic information of known or suspected weapons of mass destruction (WMD) sites. Go to article

Epigenetic Sequencing Using Enzymatic Detection Method ( Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News) Investigators at the University of Pennsylvania's (UPenn) Perelman School of Medicine have provided a novel method for sequencing epigenetic modifications using 1,000-fold less DNA than the current gold standard technique. The UPenn researchers believe that their novel method could pave the way for better detection of cancer and other diseases in the blood. Findings from the new study were published recently in Nature Biotechnology through an article titled "Nondestructive, base-resolution sequencing of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine using a DNA deaminase." Go to article

Biometrics and Public Health Surveillance in Criminalised and Key Populations: Policy, Ethics, and Human Rights Considerations ( The Lancet) Widespread public health surveillance efforts focused on key populations (men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who inject drugs, and others) gather data on population sizes, HIV prevalence, and other information for planning and resource allocation. Biometric identification might improve this data gathering. However, in the context of extensive criminalisation of these populations, the use of biometrics such as fingerprints raises concerns that are insufficiently addressed in current policies. Go to article


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