News Scan for Jul 22, 2015

Saudi MERS case
Food Safety Challenge winner

Saudi Arabia reports new MERS case

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) yesterday announced a new MERS-CoV case after going 4 days without one, and a study in macaques identified two drugs that might be candidate for human trials.

The MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) case involves a 32-year-old male expatriate in Riyadh, according to an MOH update. He is not a healthcare worker and is listed in critical condition. He reported no recent contact with MERS patients before falling ill.

His case brings the Saudi total to 1,049 cases, 462 of which have proved fatal. Seven patients are still undergoing treatment, the MOH said.

In related news, Hong Kong and Chinese researchers noted that a lopinavir-ritonavir combination and interferon-beta-1b showed promise in treating MERS-infected macaques, while the condition of monkeys treated with mycophenolate mofetil deteriorated. Lopinavir and ritonavir are used to treat HIV, and interferon-beta-1b is a cell-growth inhibitor. The study appeared yesterday in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Jul 21 Saudi MOH update
Jul 21 J Infect Dis


Purdue team wins FDA's Food Safety Challenge

A team from Purdue University has won the $300,000 grand prize in the US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) Food Safety Challenge for 2014, with a San Antonio, Tex., company winning $100,000 as runner-up, the FDA said in a news release today.

The Purdue scientists won for developing a method to concentrate Salmonella to detectable levels using automated microfiltration. Their innovation uses minuscule filters to capture few foodborne pathogens in large volumes of liquid suspensions.

Pronucleotein Inc. was runner-up for creating DNA tests using an aptamer-magnetic bead sandwich for detecting foodborne pathogens with a handheld fluorescence reader, an approach that employs small strands of DNA bound to magnets to capture and illuminate pathogens.

The Food Safety Challenge was developed through the America Competes Reauthorization Act of 2010 and last year sought revolutionary improvements in the speed of Salmonella detection.

Palmer Orlandi, PhD, the FDA's acting chief science officer, said, "These breakthrough concepts for detecting foodborne pathogens in fresh produce and other foods will help ensure quicker detection of problems in our food supply and help to prevent foodborne illnesses."

Five finalists presented their concepts to judges on Jul 7. They each received $20,000.
Jul 22 FDA news release

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