Deliberating Over Danger
The creation of H5N1 bird flu strains that are transmissible between mammals has thrown the scientific community into a heated debate about whether such research should be allowed and how it should be regulated.
Investments in the development of new drugs for orthopoxvirus infections have fostered new avenues of research, provided an improved understanding of orthopoxvirus biology and yielded new therapies that are currently progressing through clinical trials. These broad-based efforts have also resulted in the identification of new inhibitors of orthopoxvirus replication that target many different stages of viral replication cycle. This review will discuss progress in the development of new anti-poxvirus drugs and the identification of new molecular targets that can be exploited for the development of new inhibitors. The prototype of the orthopoxvirus group is vaccinia virus and its replication cycle will be discussed in detail noting specific viral functions and their associated gene products that have the potential to serve as new targets for drug development. Progress that has been achieved in recent years should yield new drugs for the treatment of these infections and might also reveal new approaches for antiviral drug development with other viruses.
Useful illustration of what a good idea it is to understand the “Entrance, Entertainment and Exit” strategies fo a virus!
Islamabad: Enough to set alarm bells ringing, HIV infection rates among injecting drug users in the country has jumped from 10.8 per cent in 2005 to 37.8 per cent in 2011, ‘HIV Second Generation Surveillance in Pakistan …
I remember talking about this back in 2003 or so: the figures for India and Pakistan and China and Russia had started to increase, and I could see a time coming when Africa might be a sideshow in the HIV pandemic. Because it’s just a sidestep from IV drug users to the heterosexual population….
To disease detectives at the world’s leading public health agencies, influenza is an all-too familiar foe. First isolated in 1932, the virus – a single-stranded member of the orthomyxovirus family – occurs every year in every country, seasonally and sporadically, killing between 250 000 and 500 000 people and causing severe illness in several million more, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Over the past three centuries, there have been at least 10 global influenza pandemics and three in the last century alone, among them the so-called ‘Spanish flu’ of 1918–1919. The single most devastating disease outbreak in human history, that pandemic is believed to have caused between 20 million and 50 million deaths worldwide. It is the prospect of another such catastrophe, and the staggering toll of seasonal flu, that has made influenza the world’s second-most studied virus, behind HIV.
And my quote of the article:
“Monitoring birds is very important, but we should be doing much more work on influenza in pigs. We know the numbers are huge and we don’t know what exactly is happening there.” – Ab Osterhaus
In this month’s Bulletin
The WHO research agenda for influenza: two years later
- Michael L Perdue & Tim Nguyen
Influenza at the beginning of the 21st century
- Nahoko Shindo & Sylvie Briand
Public health round-up
The influenza enigma
Spreading the word about seasonal influenza
Tackling influenza in Ghana
Via The Independent: New research warns of Olympics flu pandemic risk.
The millions of tourists coming to London for the Olympics will dramatically increase the risk that a flu pandemic in Britain might spread, according to new research to be published this week.
For Britain is ranked second in the world, after Singapore, in terms of the risk of an avian or swine flu outbreak spreading, according to a new study of more than 200 countries by the risk analysts Maplecroft.
Experts warn that the scale of the threat is vast. “There is little pre-existing natural immunity to H5N1 infection in the human population. Should the virus improve its transmissibility, the entire human population could be vulnerable to infection,” states the research – citing previous warnings from the World Health Organization.
As we would say here in SA: ja, boet…. Look at it this way: if we could have a Soccer World Cup in South Africa IN A PANDEMIC YEAR, in the absence of any vaccine, without a national or international disaster – then I think this is just scare-mongering.
Image courtesy of Russell Kightley Media
The influenza virus mRNAs are structurally similar to cellular mRNAs nevertheless; the virus promotes selective translation of viral mRNAs despite the inhibition of host cell protein synthesis. The infection proceeds normally upon functional impairment of eIF4E cap-binding protein, but requires functional eIF4A helicase and eIF4G factor. Here, we have studied whether the presence of cis elements in viral mRNAs or the action of viral proteins is responsible for this eIF4E-independence. The eIF4E protein is required for viral mRNA translation in vitro, indicating that cis-acting RNA sequences are not involved in this process. We also show that PB2 viral polymerase subunit interacts with the eIF4G protein. In addition, a chimeric mRNA containing viral UTR sequences transcribed by the viral polymerase out of the infection is successfully translated independently of an impaired eIF4E factor. These data support that the viral polymerase is responsible for the eIF4E independence of influenza virus mRNA translation.
Image courtesy Russell Kightley Media