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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 11, 2018

Biological Agents & Infectious Diseases

Officials Confirm 7 More Ebola Cases in DRC ( CIDRAP) Officials in the Democratic Congo of the Republic confirmed seven more Ebola cases late yesterday and announced new measures to curb the spread of the deadly disease. Six of the cases are in Beni, and one is in Masereka, 100 kilometers (62 miles) away. Go to article

Protective Efficacy and Long-term Immunogenicity in Cynomolgus Macaques by Ebola Virus Glycoprotein Synthetic DNA Vaccines ( Journal of Infectious Diseases) There remains an important need for prophylactic anti-Ebola virus vaccine candidates that elicit long-lasting immune responses and can be delivered to vulnerable populations that are unable to receive live-attenuated or viral vector vaccines. Go to article

Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness in Preventing Influenza-associated Hospitalizations During Pregnancy: A Multi-country Retrospective Test Negative Design Study, 2010-2016 ( Clinical Infectious Diseases) To date, no study has examined influenza vaccine effectiveness against laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations during pregnancy. Go to article

Illinois Reports 9 Recent Acute Flaccid Myelitis Cases ( Outbreak News Today) In a follow-up to previous reports from Minnesota and Colorado and a number of other states, The Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting nine recent reports of sporadic, clinically diagnosed cases of acute flaccid myelitis IDPH is working with the health care providers to collect necessary information to send to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Go to article

Non-neutralizing Antibodies Elicited by Recombinant Lassa-Rabies Vaccine Are Critical for Protection Against Lassa Fever ( Nature Communications) Lassa fever, caused by Lassa virus, is a viral hemorrhagic fever for which no approved vaccine or potent antiviral treatment is available. LF is a WHO priority disease and, together with rabies, a major health burden in West Africa. Go to article


Domestic Preparedness & Response

Flooding from Hurricane Michael Creates Food Safety Issues Across South ( Food Safety News) Strong winds and heavy rain continue to wreak havoc across parts of the South today as Hurricane Michael meanders out of Georgia and heads up the mid-Atlantic Coast. In addition to the devastating damage that is immediately visible today, less obvious hazards in the wake of the massive storm are expected to last weeks. Food safety dangers come in various forms and can cause severe illnesses and deaths as floodwaters recede. Go to article

FEMA Faces Hurricane Michael with Many Senior Roles Unfilled ( Bloomberg) As Hurricane Michael barrels toward Florida, the agency charged with protecting Americans from the storm has large numbers of senior positions vacant or without permanent staff. At least 22 senior leadership roles at the Federal Emergency Management Agency are vacant or occupied by staff temporarily filling those positions. Go to article

The Sudden, Shocking Growth of Hurricane Michael ( The Atlantic) The already bad 2018 hurricane season has gotten even worse. On Wednesday afternoon, Hurricane Michael became the second major storm to make landfall this year. Michael is an incredibly dangerous, history-making storm, bringing catastrophic high winds and deadly storm surge to Florida's Panhandle. It ranks among the most ferocious land-falling hurricanes in American history. Go to article


Medicine & Public Health

FluGen's Broadly Protective Flu Vaccine Clears Early Human Test, Eyes 'Challenge' Study ( FiercePharma) Every year, scientists have to choose which strains of flu virus to include in the coming season's flu shots, and when the vaccine strains don't match the circulating strains, vaccine effectiveness can be much lower. If FluGen has its way, though, its novel vaccine will obviate the need for all of that. It'll protect against multiple strains of flu, even mismatched ones. And the company now has some early-phase data that shows it's on the right track. Go to article


Science & Technology

Surging R&D Spending in China Narrows Gap with United States ( Science) China's total spending on R&D rose a robust 12.3% last year to a record 1.76 trillion yuan ($254 billion), according to a government report released yesterday. Already second in the world in R&D spending behind the US, China has narrowed the gap. Go to article

The Approach to Predictive Medicine That Is Taking Genomics Research by Storm ( Nature) 6.6 million - that's how many spots on the human genome Sekar Kathiresan looks at to calculate a person's risk of developing coronary artery disease. Kathiresan has found that combinations of single DNA-letter differences from person to person in these select locations could help to predict whether someone will succumb to one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Go to article

So Much Genetic Testing. So Few People to Explain It to You ( Wired) Today, with precision medicine going mainstream and an explosion of apps piping genetic insights to your phone from just a few teaspoons of spit, millions of Americans are having their DNA decoded every year. That deluge of data means that genetic counselors--the specialized medical professionals trained to help patients interpret genetic test results--are in higher demand than ever. Go to article


Other 21st Century Threats

Options for Keeping the Food System Within Environmental Limits ( Nature) The food system is a major driver of climate change, changes in land use, depletion of freshwater resources, and pollution of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems through excessive nitrogen and phosphorus inputs. Go to article



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