NEWS SCAN: H1N1v in Ontario, drug-resistant TB terminology, funds for vaccine development

Sep 25, 2012

Ontario reports variant H1N1 case
An Ontario man who worked with pigs has tested positive for a variant H1N1 (H1N1v) infection, Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Arlene King, MD, MHSc, said today. "This adult male patient became ill after close contact with pigs. He is being treated and closely monitored in a hospital in southwestern Ontario," she said in a press release from the province's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC). The man, whose age was not released, worked with pigs in both the United States and Canada, and it's unclear where he contracted the virus, she said, according to the Canadian Press (CP) today. "It's likely an isolated occurrence," she told the CP. On Sep 14 the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported an H1N1v case in Missouri in which the virus contained the matrix (M) gene from the 2009 pandemic H1N1 strain, marking only the second identification of that exact H1N1v strain. This compares with 12 US H1N1v cases since 2005 that did not contain the 2009 H1N1 M gene. King said officials did not know whether the Ontario case involved an H1N1v virus with the 2009 M gene, the CP reported.
Sep 25 Ontario MOHLTC news release
Sep 25 CP story
Sep 14 CIDRAP News story on Missouri case

Terminology challenges for defining drug-resistant TB
An expert consultation comprising scientists from the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends against adopting yet another term in the lexicon of highly drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) strains, according to their report in Emerging Infectious Diseases today. After receiving several reports in recent years of TB cases that were phenotypically resistant to every drug tested, WHO convened the experts in March to identify issues to be resolved before considering adopting yet another term, namely, totally drug-resistant (TDR) TB. Already defined is "extensively drug-resistant" (XDR) TB, and further terms like "extremely drug-resistant (XXDR) TB," "super resistant TB," and "super extensively drug-resistant TB" are sometimes used but have imprecise definitions. The experts identified seven challenges to developing a definition of TDR TB, among them that susceptibility tests can be poorly reproducible or unreliable, that many drugs are used off-label for drug-resistant TB, that there is no consensus list of all anti-TB drugs, that the introduction of new drugs would render the definition obsolete, and that labeling cases as TDR TB might lead providers to think they are untreatable. According to the authors, "Proper evaluation of yet another definition must rigorously consider these challenges and controversies with the aim of improving clinical care and public health."
Sep 25 Emerg Infect Dis report

Gates Foundation funds vaccine development
The Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding development of novel vaccines and therapeutics for infectious diseases at Atreca Inc. to the tune of $6 million, it was announced today. Atreca, based in San Carlos, Calif., will apply its Immune Repertoire Capture technology to the tasks. The technology is "an engine for the discovery and development of antibody-based therapeutics, vaccines, diagnostics, and research reagents," according to a Business Wire release. In the first 4 years of the Gates-Atreca collaboration, focus will be placed on at least three diseases—malaria, HIV/AIDS, and TB—with the aim of improving global health.
Sep 25 TechFlash alert
Sep 25 BusinessWire article

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