America's North Shore Journal

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Category: Medicine

A virus worse than Zika

CDC image

The news media have been full of the threat to unborn children from an infection with the Zika virus. Yet, there exists a common virus that presents a far more serious threat to a fetus. That virus is called cytomegalovirus, or CMV. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), half of all Americans will have contracted this illness by age 40. There is no cure and the illness can reactivate at any time.

Shark Antibodies Make a Splash

Ribbon structure of a shark-derived single-domain antibody

As a cost-effective alternative to both conventional and camelid single-domain antibodies for therapeutic, detection and biotechnology applications, recombinant production enables a more uniform and consistent product. Stabilizing high melting temperatures can greatly reduce the logistical cost of shipping and storing for detection, diagnostics and therapeutic reagents as they would no longer need to be maintained at refrigerated temperatures. This would lower development costs for new technologies focused on protecting the warfighter and civilian populations.

Turnkey Detection: Rapid Diagnostics in the Field

schematic showing the fluorescent signal obtained from the RNA of the MERS coronavirus

This new diagnostic device will allow quicker point-of-care testing of infected warfighters allowing for more rapid treatment and troop safety. After analytical comparisons with current CDC kits, the next step will be to gain ‘Emergency Use Authorization.’ This will accelerate the FDA development process, allowing the diagnostic tool to reach the warfighter sooner.

Trojan Horse Antibody Attacks Ebola

ultrastructural morphology displayed by an Ebola virus virion

In a research effort funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Joint Science and Technology Office, researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), Integrated BioTherapeutics Inc., Vanderbilt University Medical Center and The Scripps Research Institute discovered a new strategy for defeating all five strands of EBOV to protect warfighters and civilians.

Latest on Microcephaly in Brazil

photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim

About this time in 2015, Brazilian public health authorities began to receive reports of an unusual number of cases of a birth defect called microcephaly in newborns. It appears that the defect, with other serious defects, is associated with some pregnant mothers contracting a Zika viral illness. This illness was passed to their fetus and seems to have caused, or at least contributed to the development, of these neurological defects.

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