Evening Ebola Update, Mon, 3/30: Don’t blame Big Pharma for few vaccines/Africa needs ‘green water’/New whole genome EBOV vaccine works in monkeys/Novel pox report in NEJM is great   Leave a comment

3/30/15

Dear Colleagues:

l.  Nature 19 March has published a World View by Seth Berkley, CEO of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, re: the fact that only 20 vaccines have been developed for the >300 infectious diseases discovered in the second half of the 20th Century.  The author does not blame the drug industry for failing to develop an EBOV vaccine previously because such a vaccine would have been a ‘product without a market’ previous to 2014.  Instead, he says the world needs to recognize that vaccines benefit us all in today’s world of air travel.  ‘Instead (of drug industry), governments, public funders, and private donors sould be stepping up and investing’.  See his article at: http://www.nature.com/news/share-the-risks-of-ebola-vaccine-development-1.17134

2.  Nature 19 March contains a Comment on ‘Increasing water harvesting in Africa’ by Johan Rockstrom, et. al. from Stockholm University.  Africa’s population will double to 2.5 billion people by 2050.  Currently, 50% of Africans live in extreme poverty.  To produce enough food to feed Africa’s people now and in the future, the continent needs water to feed crops.  The water needs to be ‘green water’-moisture from rain held in the soil, and not ‘blue water’-runoff water from rain.  There just isn’t enough blue water in Africa to support crops.  The authors give several techniques to increase green water: terracing, mulches, canopy cover.  This article is a look into the future; read it at: http://www.nature.com/news/agriculture-increase-water-harvesting-in-africa-1.17116

3.  Science 26 March has an article by Marzi, et. al. from NIH reporting a replication-deficient EBOV virus vaccine which successfully induced protection against EBOV in non-human primates (macaques).  The altered EBOV virus cannot code for VP30.  The authors state this EBOV vaccine may have greater effectiveness in humans because it presents more than one EBOV gene or protein to the human immune system than the current EBOV vaccines in trials.  See the article at: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2015/03/25/science.aaa4919.full

4.  PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases has represented an article by Bausch, et. al. from the Tulane School of Public Health discussing why the current EBOV epidemic began in a village in Guinea.  The authors cite poverty which drove the Guineans into the tropical forest to seek food which was contaminated with EBOV, either bushmeat or cocoa pods, lack of health facilities to treat the EBOV infection, care-giving falling upon family members who subsequently became infected, and porous borders which spread the infection to Sierra Leone and Liberia.  See this article published originally in July, 2014, at: http://journals.plos.org/plosntds/article?id=10.1371/journal.pntd.0003056

5.  NIH 26 March reports that the cAd3-EBOZ vaccine (GSK) and the VSV-ZEBOV vaccine (NewLink Genetics) undergoing Phase 2 trials in Liberia are safe.  NIH thanks the Liberians for allowing the PREVAIL trials to be conducted in Liberia using Liberian subjects and controls.  See the article at: http://www.nih.gov/news/health/mar2015/niaid-26a.htm

6.  NIH 26 March report by Dr. Fauci says that the mutation rate of the EBOV virus in West Africa from March (Guinea) to June (Sierra Leone) to November (Mali) in 2014 was not greater than the mutation rates in previous outbreaks.  There is no reason to believe the EBOV virus in the current epidemic has become more virulent during 2014.  See Dr. Fauci’s statement at: http://www.nih.gov/news/health/mar2015/niaid-26.htm

7.  The science that shows the EBOV virus in Mali does not mutate more rapidly than in prior outbreaks is reported by Honen, et. al. from NIH in Science 26 March.  See the science at: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2015/03/25/science.aaa5646

8.  NEJM 26 March has published a beautiful article by Vora, et. al. from Georgia and NIH on human infection by a novel zoonotic Orthopoxvirus in the Country of Georgia as a Brief Report.  The article is written so that those of us who have trouble understanding phylogenetic analysis of viruses can understand the detective work that took place in identifying this novel virus.  The illustrations are gorgeous and well-described.  I only wish the legend for Figure 3: Phylogenetic Analysis of the Novel Orthopoxvirus was more basic so I could understand Figure 3 better.  Importantly, the article points out that current diagnostic tests for other ‘pox’ can be positive with the novel virus, leading to misdiagnosis.  See the Brief Report at: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1407647

RGL, MD

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Posted March 31, 2015 by levittrg in Ebola

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