l. Nature 1 January has an article on pages 9,10 re: convalescent plasma therapy (CPT) for EBOV and other infectious diseases. CPT was used to treat diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, and pneumonia in the late 19th, early 20th centuries. Then antibiotics, vaccines, and antiviral drugs were developed. Now CPT is used to treat EBOV and MERS, and could be used for SARS and avian influenza.
2. Drugs and vaccines are still better than CPT because CPT requires testing for pathogens, patient transfusion, and standardization is difficult because antibody levels vary in donated blood. Nonetheless, in an epidemic or pandemic, CPT is available in survivors and can treat masses of patients. Protocols are now ongoing in Guinea for CPT in EBOV. See the Nature article at: http://www.nature.com/news/ebola-raises-profile-of-blood-based-therapy-1.16625
3. Wired 12 January has an article by Anita Goel, MD, PhD from Harvard about nanobiophysics helping to diagnose EBOV rapidly and locally. Goel has developed a mobile test called Gene-RADAR to make a genetic diagnosis of EBOV locally. If specimens do not need to be sent to a central lab for processing, the diagnosis of EBOV may be made in hours, not several days. The article in Wired at: http://www.wired.com/2015/01/nanobiophysics-ebola-pandemics/ does not provide details about Goel’s Gene-RADAR test, but another of her articles does provide some detail about Gene-RADAR:
“The gold standard in medical diagnosis today is based on a 20-year-old Nobel Prize–winning technology called the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which forms the basis of the multi-billion-dollar molecular diagnostics industry and requires significant, costly infrastructure. Through the new science of nanobiophysics, we are creating next-generation technologies like Gene-RADAR that will fundamentally transform how diseases are diagnosed and treated. We harness tiny molecular machines that read and write DNA to detect genetic fingerprints of various diseases. We have embedded these nanomachines and nanosensors in microelectromechanical systems and nanofluidic engineering platforms to enable real-time, mobile diagnosis. We are at a point in history where these nanobiophysics innovations, along with several recent technological advances—smart phones, information and communications technology, human genome sequencing, bioinformatics and so on—are poised to completely transform the delivery of global healthcare.” (http://www.saworldview.com/index.cfm/special-report-cancer/worldviewpoint/)
4. Reuters reports that WHO is preparing proposals for its Executive Board meeting soon that will give WHO more direct control over member countries when EBOV or other deadly disease has an outbreak in a member country. WHO also wants to have rapid response teams which can be sent immediately to a member country when an outbreak occurs, and more control over money donated for EBOV relief. Everyone agrees that ‘ramping-up’ for the current EBOV epidemic took much too long, and these measures will allow an immediate WHO response to an outbreak. See the Reuters article at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/12/us-health-ebola-who-idUSKBN0KL27P20150112
5. The Guardian reports that the Scottish nurse now at the Royal Free in London has passed through the critical phase of her EBOV and is doing better. (Three cheers for William Pooley’s CPT!).