l. WHO reports that Director General Chan visited Bamako, Mali, today to meet with the Mali President and Health Minister re: the Mali EBOV outbreak. U.N. is establishing an office in Mali to coordinate response to the Mali situation. U.N. reports 500 contacts to be traced in Mali.
2. Wall Street Journal reports that Merck has purchased the rights to the NewLink vaccine for EBOV. This vaccine is the recombinant VSV-EBOV vaccine. GSK has the rights to another EBOV vaccine, and Johnson & Johnson has joined with a private firm for rights to a third vaccine. Now all 3 vaccines can be ‘scaled up’ in production and testing. NewLink’s sale of its vaccine rights to Merck is a humanitarian action in my opinion.
3. The Lancet correspondence column today has a follow-up to the article I cited about ‘natural’ immunity to EBOV in 15% of persons in Gabon who live in the forests. The correspondent refers to two articles which discuss immunity against EBOV. A very recent article by Rasmussen, et. al. found that EBOV-infected mice with one form of a gene for endothelial tyrosine kinases (Tie1 and TeK) produced plenty of tyrosine kinase and the mice survived the EBOV infection. Other EBOV-infected mice which had another form of a gene for the endothelial tyrosine kinases produced little tyrosine kinase died of the EBOV, See: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/346/6212/987.full for the Rasmussen, et. al. article.
4. The Lancet correspondent also cites an article in J Infect. Dis. by Sanchez, et.al. in 2007 in which the authors found the HLA A-B genes (Human Leukocyte Antigen A and B) had forms (B*67 and B*15) which predicted which patients with Sudan EBOV (SEBOV) died of SEBOV infection, and forms (B*07 and B*14) which predicted which patients survived the SEBOV infection. See: http://jid.oxfordjournals.org/content/196/Supplement_2/S329.full for the Sanchez article.
5. For non-scientists: HLA A-B genes work by coding for special antigens in cells; these special antigens digest viruses infecting the cells and carry ‘pieces’ of these viruses to the cell surface so killer-T cells can attack them and intact viruses. Note: Different forms of the HLA A-B genes are called alleles; for example, blood types A, B, O, etc. are different alleles of the blood gene).
Earlier this week I was told: ‘Sometimes crises are necessary for catalytic change’. Tonight is a crisis night in St. Louis; the Grand Jury verdict re: the death of Michael Brown will be delivered to the public by the County Prosecutor in 2 hours. Please pray for the safety of life, property, and constitutional rights in the aftermath of the Jury’s verdict. The Governor, County Executive, Mayor, and Police have asked for calm on TV just now, and I can hear police helicopters overhead. It is a surreal moment for me.