lunedì 28 aprile 2014

Tamiflu report comes under fire

A study that calls into question the stockpiling of billions of dollars’ worth of antiviral drugs to mitigate the threat of influenza pandemics has been criticized by flu researchers. The analysis of Tamiflu and Relenza, drugs known as neuraminidase inhibitors, was published on 10 April by the Cochrane Collaboration, a group that reviews the effectiveness of health-care measures. It concluded that the medicines were of little use. At the same time, the journal BMJ published a series of articles, including two that summarize the Cochrane findings, and several editorials that focus on the five-year campaign by Cochrane and the BMJ to obtain the unpublished drug-company clinical-trial data later used in the review (read more)

Rubella outbreak in Japan

About 15 000 cases of rubella and 43 cases of congenital rubella syndrome were reported to the National Epidemiological Surveillance of Infectious Diseases between Oct 15, 2012, and March 2, 2014, as a result of the 2012—13 rubella outbreak in Japan.1 This resurgence of rubella has mainly affected adult men aged 35—51 years—who had not received routine rubella vaccine during their childhood when only school girls were vaccinated, and men and women aged 24—34 years—whose vaccine coverage rates were relatively low (read more)

sabato 19 aprile 2014

Protection against filovirus diseases by a novel broad-spectrum nucleoside analogue BCX4430

Filoviruses are emerging pathogens and causative agents of viral haemorrhagic fever. Case fatality rates of filovirus disease outbreaks are among the highest reported for any human pathogen, exceeding 90% (ref. 1). Licensed therapeutic or vaccine products are not available to treat filovirus diseases. Candidate therapeutics previously shown to be efficacious in non-human primate disease models are based on virus-specific designs and have limited broad-spectrum antiviral potential. Here we show that BCX4430, a novel synthetic adenosine analogue, inhibits infection of distinct filoviruses in human cells. Biochemical, reporter-based and primer-extension assays indicate that BCX4430 inhibits viral RNA polymerase function, acting as a non-obligate RNA chain terminator. Post-exposure intramuscular administration of BCX4430 protects against Ebola virus and Marburg virus disease in rodent models. Most importantly, BCX4430 completely protects cynomolgus macaques from Marburg virus infection when administered as late as 48 hours after infection. In addition, BCX4430 exhibits broad-spectrum antiviral activity against numerous viruses, including bunyaviruses, arenaviruses, paramyxoviruses, coronaviruses and flaviviruses. This is the first report, to our knowledge, of non-human primate protection from filovirus disease by a synthetic drug-like small molecule. We provide additional pharmacological characterizations supporting the potential development of BCX4430 as a countermeasure against human filovirus diseases and other viral diseases representing major public health threats (read more)

giovedì 17 aprile 2014

A highly specific blood test for vCJD

[...] To explore the assay’s specificity and hence suitability for screening exposed and at-risk populations, we tested 5000 blood samples from the American Red Cross in which, because of minimal BSE exposure, no true positives would be expected (US normals). No samples tested positive (100% specificity; 95% CI: 99.93%-100%). The high specificity was reflected in a smaller, healthy UK cohort (UK normals). The assay’s positive likelihood ratio indicates true positives are more than 7000 times as likely as false positives; the negative likelihood ratio indicates true negatives are more than 3 times as likely as false negatives. Finally, we tested a small blind panel of unaffected and vCJD patient samples. Seven of 10 vCJD patient samples tested positive (70% sensitivity), reconfirming but not refining our previous sensitivity estimate [...] (read more)

Novel Paramyxovirus Associated with Severe Acute Febrile Disease, South Sudan and Uganda, 2012

In 2012, a female wildlife biologist experienced fever, malaise, headache, generalized myalgia and arthralgia, neck stiffness, and a sore throat shortly after returning to the United States from a 6-week field expedition to South Sudan and Uganda. She was hospitalized, after which a maculopapular rash developed and became confluent. When the patient was discharged from the hospital on day 14, arthralgia and myalgia had improved, oropharynx ulcerations had healed, the rash had resolved without desquamation, and blood counts and hepatic enzyme levels were returning to reference levels. After several known suspect pathogens were ruled out as the cause of her illness, deep sequencing and metagenomics analysis revealed a novel paramyxovirus related to rubula-like viruses isolated from fruit bats (read more).

An Inactivated Enterovirus 71 Vaccine in Healthy Children

BACKGROUND : Enterovirus 71 (EV71) is a major cause of hand, foot, and mouth disease in children and may be fatal. A vaccine against EV71 is needed.
METHODS : We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 trial involving healthy children 6 to 71 months of age in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China. Two doses of an inactivated EV71 vaccine or placebo were administered intramuscularly, with a 4-week interval between doses, and children were monitored for up to 11 months. The primary end point was protection against hand, foot, and mouth disease caused by EV71.
RESULTS : A total of 12,000 children were randomly assigned to receive vaccine or placebo. Serum neutralizing antibodies were assessed in 549 children who received the vaccine. The seroconversion rate was 100% 4 weeks after the two vaccinations, with a geometric mean titer of 170.6. Over the course of two epidemic seasons, the vaccine efficacy was 97.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 92.9 to 99.0) according to the intention-to-treat analysis and 97.3% (95% CI, 92.6 to 99.0) according to the per-protocol analysis. Adverse events, such as fever (which occurred in 41.6% of the participants who received vaccine vs. 35.2% of those who received placebo), were significantly more common in the week after vaccination among children who received the vaccine than among those who received placebo.
CONCLUSIONS : The inactivated EV71 vaccine elicited EV71-specific immune responses and protection against EV71-associated hand, foot, and mouth disease (read more)

Mystery solved: VSV-G-LVs do not allow efficient gene transfer into unstimulated T cells, B cells, and HSCs because they lack the LDL receptor

 (read more)

Hepatitis C Virus Maintains Infectivity for Weeks After Drying on Inanimate Surfaces at Room Temperature: Implications for Risks of Transmission

Background. Healthcare workers may come into contact with fomites that contain infectious hepatitis C virus (HCV) during preparation of plasma or following placement or removal of venous lines. Similarly, injection drugs users may come into contact with fomites. Hypothesizing that prolonged viability of HCV in fomites may contribute significantly to incidence, we determined the longevity of virus infectivity and the effectiveness of antiseptics.
Methods. We determined the volume of drops misplaced during transfer of serum or plasma. Aliquots equivalent to the maximum drop volume of plasma spiked with the 2a HCV reporter virus were loaded into 24-well plates. Plates were stored uncovered at 3 temperatures: 4°C, 22°C, and 37°C for up to 6 weeks before viral infectivity was determined in a microculture assay.
Results. The mean volume of an accidental drop was 29 µL (min–max of 20–33 µL). At storage temperatures 4°C and 22°C, we recovered viable HCV from the low-titer spots for up to 6 weeks of storage. The rank order of HCV virucidal activity of commonly used antiseptics was bleach (1:10) > cavicide (1:10) > ethanol (70%).
Conclusions. The hypothesis of potential transmission from fomites was supported by the experimental results. The anti-HCV activity of commercial antiseptics varied (read more)

Human Polyomavirus 9 Infection in Kidney Transplant Patients

Several human polyomaviruses of unknown prevalence and pathogenicity have been identified, including human polyomavirus 9 (HPyV9). To determine rates of HPyV9 infection among immunosuppressed patients, we screened serum samples from 101 kidney transplant patients in the Netherlands for HPyV9 DNA and seroreactivity. A total of 21 patients had positive results for HPyV9 DNA; positivity rates peaked at 3 months after transplantation, but the highest viral loads were measured just after transplantation. During 18 months of follow-up, HPyV9 seroprevalence increased from 33% to 46% among transplant patients; seroprevalence remained stable at ≈30% in a control group of healthy blood donors in whom no HPyV9 DNA was detected. Further analysis revealed an association between detection of HPyV9 and detection of BK polyomavirus but not of cytomegalovirus. Our data indicate that HPyV9 infection is frequent in kidney transplant patients, but the nature of infection—endogenous or donor-derived—and pathogenic potential of this virus remain unknown (read more)

Coronavirus entry and release in polarized epithelial cells: a review

Most coronaviruses cause respiratory or intestinal infections in their animal or human host. Hence, their interaction with polarized epithelial cells plays a critical role in the onset and outcome of infection. In this paper, we review the knowledge regarding the entry and release of coronaviruses, with particular emphasis on the severe acute respiratory syndrome and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronaviruses. As these viruses approach the epithelial surfaces from the apical side, it is not surprising that coronavirus cell receptors are exposed primarily on the apical domain of polarized epithelial cells. With respect to release, all possibilities appear to occur. Thus, most coronaviruses exit through the apical surface, several through the basolateral one, although the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus appears to use both sides. These observations help us understand the local or systematic spread of the infection within its host as well as the spread of the virus within the host population (read more)

Hyperimmune intravenous immunoglobulin containing high titers of pandemic H1N1 hemagglutinin and neuraminidase antibodies provides dose-dependent protection against lethal virus challenge in SCID mice

Background: Convalescent plasma and fractionated immunoglobulins have been suggested as prophylactic or therapeutic interventions during an influenza pandemic.FindingsIntravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) preparations manufactured from human plasma collected before the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, and post-pandemic hyperimmune (H)-IVIG preparations were characterized with respect to hemagglutination inhibition (HI), microneutralization (MN) and neuraminidase-inhibiting (NAi) antibody titers against pandemic H1N1 (pH1N1) and seasonal H1N1 (sH1N1) viruses. The protective efficacy of the IVIG and H-IVIG preparations was evaluated in a SCID mouse challenge model.Substantial levels of HI, MN and NAi antibodies against pH1N1 (GMTs 1:45, 1:204 and 1: 727, respectively) and sH1N1 (GMTs 1:688, 1:4,946 and 1:312, respectively) were present in pre-pandemic IVIG preparations. In post-pandemic H-IVIG preparations, HI, MN and NAi antibody GMTs against pH1N1 were 1:1,280, 1:11,404 and 1:2,488 ( 28-, 56- and 3.4-fold enriched), respectively, compared to pre-pandemic IVIG preparations (p < 0.001). Post-pandemic H-IVIG (HI titer 1:1,280) provided complete protection from lethality of SCID mice against pH1N1 challenge (100 % of mice survived for 29 days post-challenge). Pre-pandemic IVIG (HI titer 1:70) did not provide significant protection against pH1N1 challenge (50 % of mice survived 29 days post-challenge compared to 40 % survival in the buffer control group). There was a highly significant correlation between circulating in vivo HI and MN antibody titers and survival (p < 0001). Conclusion: The substantial enrichment of HA- and NA-specific antibodies in H-IVIG and the efficacious protection of SCID mice against challenge with pH1N1 suggests H-IVIG as a promising intervention against pandemic influenza for immunocompromised patients and other risk groups (read more)

Bat Flight and Zoonotic Viruses

Bats are sources of high viral diversity and high-profile zoonotic viruses worldwide. Although apparently not pathogenic in their reservoir hosts, some viruses from bats severely affect other mammals, including humans. Examples include severe acute respiratory syndrome coronaviruses, Ebola and Marburg viruses, and Nipah and Hendra viruses. Factors underlying high viral diversity in bats are the subject of speculation. We hypothesize that flight, a factor common to all bats but to no other mammals, provides an intensive selective force for coexistence with viral parasites through a daily cycle that elevates metabolism and body temperature analogous to the febrile response in other mammals. On an evolutionary scale, this host–virus interaction might have resulted in the large diversity of zoonotic viruses in bats, possibly through bat viruses adapting to be more tolerant of the fever response and less virulent to their natural hosts (read more)

Emergence of Zaire Ebola Virus Disease in Guinea — Preliminary Report

In March 2014, the World Health Organization was notified of an outbreak of a communicable disease characterized by fever, severe diarrhea, vomiting, and a high fatality rate in Guinea. Virologic investigation identified Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV) as the causative agent. Full-length genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis showed that EBOV from Guinea forms a separate clade in relationship to the known EBOV strains from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon. Epidemiologic investigation linked the laboratory-confirmed cases with the presumed first fatality of the outbreak in December 2013. This study demonstrates the emergence of a new EBOV strain in Guinea (read more)