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Zika treatable with existing drugs, says breakthrough study

September 13, 2016

After screening thousands of drugs already approved or undergoing clinical trials, researchers have identified two groups of compounds that can treat Zika virus infections in two ways. One way stops the virus replicating in the body, and the other way stops the virus activity in fetal brain cells that leads to birth defects in newborns. Although Zika was first identified nearly 70 years ago, we have only recently discovered the mosquito-borne virus can cause severe birth defects in humans. Although first identified in monkeys and then humans in Africa just after World War II, it is only recently that we have learned Zika virus can cause birth defects such as microcephaly and Guillain-Barr√© syndrome in humans. The new study, published in Nature Medicine, is a breakthrough because it means effective treatments for Zika could be just around the corner, without having to wait the many years it normally takes to develop a new drug from scratch. Hengli Tang, a professor of biological science at Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee and one of the senior investigators on the study, explains: “We focused on compounds that have the shortest path to clinical use. This is a first step toward a therapeutic that can stop transmission of this disease.”     One of the compounds he and his colleagues discovered is the basis for a drug call

August 22, 2016
mrsaResearchers have discovered that secondary infection with the Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacterium (or “superbug”) often kills influenza patients because the flu virus alters the antibacterial response of white blood cells, causing them to damage the patients’ lungs instead of destroying the bacterium. The study, which will be published online August 15 ahead of issue in The Journal of Experimental Medicine, suggests that inhibiting this response may help treat patients infected with both the flu virus and MRSA.   Many influenza patients develop severe pneumonia as a result of secondary infections with MRSA. Over half of these patients die, even when treated with antibiotics that are usually capable of clearing MRSA infections. Keer Sun, an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, previously discovered that mice infected with influenza are susceptible to MRSA because the ability of their macrophages and neutrophils to kill bacteria by releasing hydrogen peroxide and other reactive oxygen species is suppressed. But it remained unclear why MRSA-infected influenza patients often die, even after receiving an appropriate antibio

August 19, 2016
pneumoniaHospital deaths from the most common form of pneumonia decreased by 14% between 2009 and 2015 according to new research published online in Thorax, the journal of the British Thoracic Society (BTS.)   The UK study showed that key elements of hospital care for community acquired pneumonia (CAP) improved during this period and could have contributed to the fall in deaths – including:

  • An 11.5% increase in the proportion of adults who received their first dose of antibiotics within 4 hours of being admitted to hospital
  • A 3.7% increase in the proportion of adults who had a chest x-ray to help confirm the diagnosis within 4 hours of being admitted to hospital
  • A 1.7% increase in the administration of appropriate antibiotics, in line with local guidelines

  The research analysed data from 23,315 UK hospital admissions for community acquired pneumonia (CAP) across 6 years between 2009 and 2014.   Overall, pneumonia is the sixth biggest cause of death in the UK. It kills 29,000 people a year and is the third biggest cause of death from lung disease – with deaths mainly occurring in older people and children & babies

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