News Scan for Dec 03, 2015

CRE 'superbug' in US
Ebola, neglected disease R&D

CDC notes 43 cases of highly resistant CRE 'superbug'

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today noted that it has received reports of 43 cases of an especially resistant form of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) in recent years, often among patients who traveled internationally, according to a report in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

The specific CRE strain produces what scientists call OXA-48-like carbapenemases, which inactivate carbapenem antibiotics, some of the last lines of defense against bacteria. OXA-48-like carbapenemases were first identified in the United States in 2013.

From June 2010 through August 2015, the CDC received reports of 52 OXA-48 CRE isolates from 43 patients in 19 states. Four patients were part of two separate clusters identified last year.

OXA-48-like carbapenemase was identified in Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates in 35 patients (81%), in Escherichia coli isolates in 7 (16%), and in Enterobacter aerogenes and Klebsiella ozaenae in 1 patient each (2%). Isolates with both New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase and OXA-48-like carbapenemase genes were obtained from five patients (12%).

Median age among 35 patients with available data was 70 (range, 29 to 91 years).

Among 29 patients for whom a travel history was available, 19 (66%) had traveled outside the country during the year before specimen collection, and 16 (55%) were hospitalized in another country. When excluding the two domestic clusters, those percentages increased to 76% and 64%, respectively.
Dec 4 MMWR report


As Ebola R&D funds spike, investments in other neglected diseases flat-line

While research and development (R&D) funding for Ebola spiked in 2014, the increase appears to have come at the expense of other neglected diseases, according to the annual G-FINDER report released today by the nonprofit Policy Cures.

The report found that global Ebola R&D investment totaled $165 million last year in response to West Africa's massive outbreak, which has sickened almost 29,000 people and killed more than 11,000. That investment equaled the sole increase in global R&D for neglected diseases, as funding for all other such diseases was down $14 million, or 0.4%, according to a press release from PATH: Global Health Technologies Coalition.

Total global R&D spending for neglected diseases was $3.4 billion in 2014, according to the eighth annual report. The only neglected diseases for which spending surpassed Ebola last year were HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis (TB), and diarrheal diseases. This was the first year that Ebola was included in the G-FINDER report, but past global investment has been minimal, at a little over $10 million a year, according to the release.

The report also noted that when Ebola is excluded, public funding for neglected disease R&D was at its lowest level in 7 years. And US government spending for non-Ebola neglected disease R&D fell again in 2014, to about $221 million below its peak in 2009.

After the previous G-FINDER report highlighted concerns about declining R&D contributions from the pharmaceutical industry, such funding increased by more than a quarter—or $98 million—from the previous year, only partly due to Ebola, the report notes. The increase was the first since 2010, and the largest industry investment in the history of the G-FINDER survey. Industry withdrawal from TB R&D investment continued, however, and was a third lower than its 2010 peak.
Dec 3 G-FINDER report
Dec 3 PATH news release

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