Archive by category | Infectious diseases

Drug target suggested for MERS as case count rises

Cluster of vesicles made by virus from usurped and reshaped membranes.

Since its appearance in Saudi Arabia in 2012, Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has spread to fifteen countries, including the US, where two cases were confirmed in the past month. Worryingly, about 30% of confirmed cases have been fatal, and the lack specific antiviral drugs for the MERS-coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which causes the illness, poses a threat to public health.  Read more

Cytomegalovirus—a ‘stealth’ pathogen—gains attention in the drug development realm

Cytomegalovirus—a ‘stealth’ pathogen—gains attention in the drug development realm

Cytomegalovirus is sometimes called ‘the stealth virus’ because many people, including more than 50% of adults in the US, harbor the infection. But few individuals ever feel the effects of CMV unless something else squelches their immune system first—such as the immunosuppressing drugs given before a bone marrow transplant. Wherever the virus gains a foothold, it can create serious problems such as pneumonia, unrelenting diarrhea or inflammation in the eye. It’s also the most common viral infection in newborns and 1 out of every 750 infants born with CMV in the US will suffer permanent harm—hearing loss, brain damage, or even death—from this virus.  Read more

Experimental leishmaniasis vaccine could overcome challenge of multiple species

Experimental leishmaniasis vaccine could overcome challenge of multiple species

Most of the 12 million people currently infected with leishmaniasis worldwide are also afflicted with poverty. The ‘black fever’ is caused by a single-cell parasite that gets passed from one person to another by the bite of a tiny sand fly and produces disfiguring skin lesions, severe mouth and throat ulcers, or swollen internal organs. In 2005, the ministers of India, Bangladesh, and Nepal committed to a ten-year plan to eliminate infections of Leishmania in their region. Two years later, the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted a resolution to take control of the disease.  Read more

A comprehensive virus survey now could save billions in avoided health care costs later, experts say

A comprehensive virus survey now could save billions in avoided health care costs later, experts say

Imagine if pandemics could be forecast by infectious disease scientists the way that bad weather can be tracked by meteorologists. New viruses would still infect people, but the cost of monitoring the emergence of those novel pathogens would be far less than the expense of dealing with a worldwide outbreak. At least that’s the reasoning behind a new study, published today in mBio, in which researchers propose launching a billion-dollar-plus global surveillance plan to find all the viruses lurking in mammalian wildlife before those same viruses find us.  Read more