News Scan for Aug 28, 2018

MERS vaccine partnership
Molecular TB testing
H5N1 avian flu in Malaysia

CEPI announces support for MERS vaccine collaboration

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) recently announced a collaboration with Germany-based IDT Biologika worth up to $36 million to develop and produce a vaccine against Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

In a statement, CEPI said the agreement provides IDT with $15.7 million to support the vaccine's first development stages, plus an option to invest up to $39 million over 5 years to cover clinical development, process development, manufacturing, and a vaccine stockpile.

Richard Hatchett, MD, chief executive officer of CEPI, said the German government supports CEPI through the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and has been instrumental in helping the group tackle diseases that pose the greatest epidemic threats.

The collaboration will also include the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), the viroscience department at Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, and CR20, a clinical research group. DZIF advanced the vaccine, which is based on a recombinant modified vaccinia Ankara vector, to phase 1 clinical trials. IDT Biologica has developed a proprietary cell substrate to produce the vaccine on a large scale.

The latest award is CEPI's third aimed at supporting MERS vaccine development. In March it announced a partnership with Themis to advance development of Lassa fever and MERS-CoV vaccines, and in April it unveiled a partnership with Inovio to develop candidate vaccines against the same two viruses.

Launched in 2017, CEPI was founded to streamline and fund vaccine candidates targeting Lassa fever, MERS-CoV, and Nipah virus.
Aug 20 CEPI statement


Molecular testing to rule out TB helps cut hospital costs

Molecular analysis of sputum samples from suspected tuberculosis (TB) patients helps rule out TB diagnoses, reduces patient time in isolation, and cuts the cost of treatment, according to a study yesterday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

In the cohort study, which took place over 2 years at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, 621 patient samples were subjected to sputum molecular testing algorithms that were used to guide treatment decisions. Outcomes were compared with TB diagnoses before the testing was put in place.

The algorithm correctly diagnosed 7 patients with culture-confirmed TB and excluded TB in all 251 patients with culture-negative results. According to the study, there were significant decreases in median times to final rapid test result (39.1 vs 22.4 hours, P < .001), discontinuation of isolation (2.9 vs 2.5 days, P = .001), and hospital discharge (6.0 vs 4.9 days, P = .003), in the group subjected to molecular testing.

"Although these differences do not seem dramatic, the savings they produce are meaningful," Max Salfinger, MD, of National Jewish Health in Denver wrote in a commentary on the study.

The authors concluded that an average of $13,347 per isolated TB-negative patient was saved when molecular testing was used.
Aug 27 JAMA Intern Med
Aug 27 JAMA Intern Med


H5N1 avian flu detected at 2 more farms in Malaysia

Malaysian livestock officials announced two more highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu outbreaks, both in the same area as other recent detections, according to an Aug 25 report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The two outbreaks began on Aug 3 in village poultry at two farms in two different locations in Sabah state on the northern part of Borneo island. One farm housed chickens, while the other had chickens and ducks. Between the two outbreaks, the virus killed 8 of 1,339 susceptible birds, and the others were culled to control the spread of the virus.

The country has now reported four H5N1 outbreaks since early August.
Aug 25 OIE report on H5N1 in Malaysia

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