News Scan for May 09, 2016

Funds for IPV polio vaccine
Bioterror test in New York

Takeda gets $38 million Gates grant to boost polio vaccine supply

Takeda Pharmaceutical Company today announced a $38 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, part of a partnership to develop a safe, effective, and affordable Sabin-strain inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) for developing countries.

Japan-based Takeda said in a statement that it will use the funding to supply at least 50 million IPV doses per year to more than 70 developing nations. The company's IPV vaccine was originally licensed from the Japan Polio Research Institute, and vaccine funded by the grant will be made at Takeda's facility in Hikari, Japan.

The announcement comes amid a massive, orchestrated switchover to a new bivalent oral polio vaccine (OPV) that began on Apr 17, prompted by the eradication of type 2 polio. Following type 1 and type 3 eradication, routine OPV immunization will be stopped and replaced with IPV, which doesn't carry the rare risk of vaccine-derived polio seen with OPV. Several countries are in the process of introducing IPV into their national immunization programs, which has led to steep demand and global vaccine shortages.

Chris Elias, president of global development at the Gates Foundation, said in the statement, "In 2016, the world is closer than ever to eradicating polio. To eradicate polio we need to ensure every last child is protected from this disease—this partnership will help ensure that the world has enough vaccine to get the job done and maintain a polio-free world."
May 9 Takeda press release

In other polio developments, a technical assessment of Ukraine's polio outbreak response has concluded that transmission has been interrupted, the World Health Organization (WHO) regional office for Europe said in a May 6 statement. The agency said, though, that it is still concerned about gaps in immunization and surveillance that put Ukraine at high risk for new outbreaks.

Last September, two cases were detected in the southwestern part of the country, which prompted three rounds of supplemental immunization.
May 6 WHO European regional office statement


NYC simulates bioterrorism attack in subways

Today the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will use harmless airflow tests to see how a bioterror attack could travel and affect the New York subway system, New York magazine reported yesterday.

The study will last a week, and unlike the 2013 New York Police Department's simulated gas attack study, it will include a particle test to look at how potential bioterror agents such as Bacillus anthracis (the bacterium that causes anthrax) or ricin could travel.

The researchers will use sugar-based particulates that have a diameter no bigger than one tenth of a human hair. Machines will release them at busy stations, and other machines, filters, and patches on platforms, subway cars, and researchers will collect them to track their spread.

The technology DNATrax, a 2013 R&D 100 award winner from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, allows researchers to identify which collected particles are theirs by essentially giving each particle a unique barcode, according to the story.

The DHS, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and others report that the test is completely harmless, according to the article.
May 8 New York article

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