Huge polio vaccination program underway in Indonesia

In the Indonesian island of Java, a huge polio vaccination campaign has begun – nearly six and a half million children under the
age of five will be vaccinated in an attempt to stop the current polio outbreak that has hit the area. The areas included in
this programme are Jakarta, Banten, and West Java.

Sixteen people have now come down with polio (two up on last week) – all of them are small children who were never

This outbreak took place in West Java. Authorities are including Jakarta and Banted in this campaign because they are
neighbouring regions.

Experts are sure this polio virus came from West Africa and arrived to Indonesia via Saudi Arabia. Continue reading

UNITAID Working With Travel Web Sites To Raise Donations For HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria

Philippe Douste-Blazy, former French foreign minister and head of UNITAID, announced recently that he is in talks with online travel industry CEOs to allow air travelers booking online to make a $2 per-flight donation to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria efforts worldwide, the Financial Times reports. The global financial crisis has placed some governments’ foreign aid budgets “under pressure,” and the United Nations is “turning to private industry and individuals to finance the battle against” the three diseases, according to the Times.

According to Douste-Blazy, he has contacted CEOs from top online travel companies and received a positive response. According to the Times, the companies Travelport and Amadeus confirmed that they are in talks with UNITAID, and a United Kingdom spokesperson for Travelport said that the company had its most recent talks with the agency last week. The spokesperson added that the company is working on prototypes for online donations. Amadeus said that it is working with UNITAID and others to develop systems for micro-contributions that could be adopted by other industries.

According to the Times, UNITAID aims to raise more than $1 billion annually for HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria efforts. It has raised $600 million during the past two years through a tax on airline tickets implemented by one dozen participating countries. One flight with 300 passengers could raise enough funds to provide 60 HIV-positive children with treatment for one year, the Times reports (Morris, Financial Times, 3/11).

Reprinted with kind permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

© 2009 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved. Continue reading

Bacteria With A Built-in Thermometer

Researchers at the Helmholtz Centre demonstrate how bacteria measure temperature and thereby control infection.

Bacteria are experts at adaptation: as soon as they have infected an organism, they adapt their metabolism to that of their host and produce substances which protect them from the body’s immune defences. How they do this is still unknown in the case of many types of bacteria. Researchers in the “Molecular Infection Biology group” at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig and the Braunschweig Technical University could now demonstrate for the first time that bacteria of the Yersinia genus possess a unique protein thermometer the protein RovA which assists them in the infection process. RovA is a multi-functional sensor: it measures both the temperature of its host as well as the host’s metabolic activity and nutrients. If these are suitable for the survival of the bacteria, the RovA protein activates genes for the infection process to begin. These results have now been published in the current online edition of the ‘PLoS Pathogens’ science magazine.

Yersinia can trigger various different diseases: best well-known is the Yersinia pestis type which caused the Plague in medieval times. This led to the death of around a third of Europe’s population. The Yersinia enterocolitica and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis species cause an inflammation of the intestines following food poisoning: the bacteria infect the cells of the intestines, leading to heavy bouts of diarrhoea. The Yersinia bacteria contain invasin as a surface protein to help them penetrate the intestinal cells. The immune cells quickly identify this so-called virulence factor as a danger and launch an immune response. To avoid this, the bacteria quickly lose the invasin soon after entering the body. The germs then adapt their metabolism and feed on the nutrients prepared by the host cells. They also produce substances which kill off the body’s defence cells, such as phagocytes. Little was known about how Yersinia is able to regulate these individual stages of infection until now.

Researchers at the HZI, led by Petra Dersch, have now identified how these mechanisms work. The RovA protein plays a key role. The protein reads the temperature for the bacteria. Depending on the environment of the bacteria, this protein either contains the factors required for the infection to begin or else adapts to life within the host. “The functioning of RovA in this way is unique among bacteria,” says Petra Dersch.

If inhabiting an environment of around 25°C, the protein RovA ensures that the Yersinia bacteria form invasin as a surface protein. This ensures that the Yersinia can penetrate the intestinal cells immediately upon reaching the 37°C intestine via food. In this warm environment, the RovA alters its form and de-activates the gene for invasin production. Without invasin on their surface, the Yersinia bacteria are invisible to the body’s immune system. In its new form, the RovA can now activate other genes in the bacteria to adapt the Yersinia metabolism to that of the host.

Until now, little was known about RovA and the fact that it reacts to temperature. Researchers were presented with a puzzle: “We have long been searching for the mechanisms which regulate RovA activity,” says Petra Dersch. “It was therefore all the more surprising to discover that RovA controls various processes by acting as a thermometer and as such is self-regulating”. At the end of the process, the RovA is responsible for its own decomposition. If the initial stages of infection prove successful, the Yersinia bacteria no longer need the RovA: in its modified form at 37°C, enzymes in the bacteria can attack and break down the RovA.

Source: Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research Continue reading

Seeking An Alternative To Antibiotics In Poultry: Dietary Yeast Extracts Tested

A dietary yeast extract could be an effective alternative to antibiotics for poultry producers, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study.

Microbiologist Gerry Huff with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Fayetteville, Ark., and her colleagues have been studying the effects of yeast extract as an immune stimulant and alternative to antibiotics in conventional turkeys. Non-pharmaceutical remedies and preventatives are particularly needed for organic poultry production, according to Huff, who works in the ARS Poultry Production and Product Safety Research Unit (PPPSRU) in Fayetteville.

ARS is USDA’s principal intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA goals of ensuring food safety and promoting international food security.

Initial studies suggest that dietary yeast extract has good potential as a non-antibiotic alternative for decreasing pathogens in organic turkey production. A larger study was needed to confirm its efficacy.

But it is expensive to work with turkeys because they eat more than other birds, according to Huff. So the researchers are testing yeast extract in Japanese quail to test the extract’s efficacy against Salmonella and Campylobacter. The quail serve as a model system to evaluate natural treatments that will be beneficial for chicken and turkey production. Huff’s current study, in collaboration with Irene Wesley at the ARS National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa, involves 800 Japanese quail.

Yeast extracts help boost the immune system’s ability to kill bacteria, but there is also a downside. According to Huff, yeast ramps up certain aspects of the immune response, but body weight may be decreased in some birds. That’s because the energy normally used for growth is redirected toward the immune system. The researchers are looking for a balance between enhancing immune response and maintaining growth.

Organic poultry farms can only use compounds on the National List of allowed substances for organic production. Yeast extract is on that list.

Alternatives to antibiotics are also needed for conventional poultry production, since regulations for the usage of antibiotics are being tightened in response to the prevalence of antibiotic resistance in pathogens.


This research was published in Poultry Science and British Poultry Science.

This release is available in Spanish.

Sharon Durham
United States Department of Agriculture – Research, Education and Economics Continue reading

Spread Of Disease Could Be Predicted By Visualization Of Geographic Patterns

Disease statistics buried within patient records or detailed in newspaper clippings can be sorted and organized to depict geographic patterns, allowing the discovery of trends that were previously overlooked, according to a Penn State geographer.

“The use of interactive maps and graphs, combined with word search interfaces, can lead to greater insight into complex events like the spread of Swine flu,” said Frank Hardisty, research associate, Penn State GeoVISTA Center.

The GeoViz Toolkit is a user-friendly application that combines text mining with geographical mapping. It allows users to search publicly available data to identify and visualize data patterns for their own interests or concerns.

The flexible software package allows someone with no programming experience to navigate the application, while also providing different components and analytical tools for experienced analysts.

“Potential applications range from research in public health — infectious disease dynamics, cancer etiology, surveillance and control — through analysis of socioeconomic and demographic data, to exploration of patterns of incidents related to terrorism or crime,” said Hardisty.

Many sources for disease and crime statistics — newspaper articles for example — are in a semi-structured format that do not clearly present the data in a table or graph, but rather bury it within the text of the document.

To obtain high-quality, relevant information from these documents, researchers use “text analytics” or ‘”text mining,” allowing them to retrieve only applicable information, like the date and description of a disease-related death, from the flood of information usually included in a newspaper clipping.

“An example would be searching a database of H1N1 flu reports for ‘child’ or ‘children’ and seeing if there is spatial clustering in the relative frequency of those reports,” Hardisty told attendees at the 2010 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

H1N1 data, provided by RhizaLabs, was used in a GeoViz query. Reports containing “child” or similar terms were mapped, with areas containing a high frequency of children cases highlighted. In general, areas with low population density exhibited a higher proportion of cases containing the search term.

“The hypothesis that this evokes is that rural states have proportionally more transmissions via children, while more densely populated places are more likely to experience other vectors of transmission,” said Hardisty.

The GeoViz application allows users to easily manipulate the software to change time and location, as well as how the data is viewed. The user can thus visualize the pattern of how the disease spreads and determine how quickly it progresses from one area to the next.

Visual geographic analysis can identify locations that are more or less susceptible to certain disease, crime, or weather patterns and researchers might link these occurrences with a cause or trigger. Using the GeoViz Toolkit could contribute to how people respond to or prevent these incidents.

“First, GeoViz methods can help first responders gain better situational awareness. Second, a better retroactive understanding of clustered patterns like disease incidence and public security incidents will lead to the development of effective control measures,” concluded Hardisty.

The Department of Homeland Security’s VACCINE initiative and the Gates Foundation Vaccine Modeling Initiative supported this work. The GeoViz Toolkit was developed under the leadership of Alan MacEachren, Director, GeoVISTA Center, Penn State.

A’ndrea Elyse Messer
Penn State Continue reading

Bayer Welcomes The Proposed EMEA Labeling Changes For Moxifloxacin

Bayer is pleased to announce that today the
European Medicines Agency’s (EMEA) Committee for Medicinal Products for
Human Use (CHMP) proposed a labeling change for oral moxifloxacin for the
treatment of Acute Exacerbations of Chronic Bronchitis (AECB), Acute
Bacterial Sinusitis (ABS) and Community Acquired Pneumonia (CAP) in line
with official European clinical guidelines.

“We welcome the CHMP review which confirms the positive benefit-risk
profile of moxifloxacin as we believe this is an important treatment option
for patients,” said
Dr. Kemal Malik, member of the Bayer HealthCare Executive Committee and
Chief Medical Officer. “We would also welcome an EMEA assessment of other
antibiotics used for treatment of these infections in a similar fashion in
the interest of patient care.”

“Due to increasing resistance of Streptococcus pneumoniae in Europe,
commonly used first line agents may not be appropriate in these countries.
Oral moxifloxacin remains an important treatment option in these
respiratory tract infections”, said Prof. Hartmut Lode, Research Center for
Medical Studies, Berlin.

On July 14, 2008, the European Commission granted a further indication for
moxifloxacin tablets for the treatment of mild to moderate Pelvic
Inflammatory Disease (PID) in all European countries.

About Moxifloxacin

Moxifloxacin is an antimicrobial in the fluoroquinolone class. It is
marketed under the brand names Avelox®, Avalox®, Izilox®, Actira®,
Octegra®, Proflox®, Actimax®, Lapinix®, Havelox®, Avelon®, Megaxin® and
Promira®. Moxifloxacin has been used in more than 98 million patients

About Bayer

The Bayer Group is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields
of health care, nutrition and high-tech materials. Bayer HealthCare, a
subsidiary of Bayer AG,
is one of the world’s leading, innovative companies in the healthcare and
medical products industry and is based in Leverkusen, Germany. The company
combines the global activities of the Animal Health, Consumer Care,
Diabetes Care and Pharmaceuticals divisions. The pharmaceuticals business
operates under the name Bayer Schering Pharma AG. Bayer HealthCare’s aim is
to discover and manufacture products that will improve human and animal
health worldwide. Find more information at bayerhealthcare.

About Bayer Schering Pharma

Bayer Schering Pharma is a worldwide leading specialty pharmaceutical
company. Its research and business activities are focused on the following
areas: Diagnostic Imaging, General Medicine, Specialty Medicine and Women’s
Healthcare. With innovative products, Bayer Schering Pharma aims for
leading positions in specialized markets worldwide. Using new ideas, Bayer
Schering Pharma aims to make a contribution to medical progress and strives
to improve the quality of life. Find more information at

Forward-Looking Statements
This release may contain forward-looking statements based on current
assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer Group or subgroup management.
Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead
to material differences between the actual future results, financial
situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates
given here. These factors include those discussed in Bayer’s public reports
which are available on the Bayer website at www.bayer. The company
assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements
or to conform them to future events or developments.

View drug information on Avelox I.V.. Continue reading

FSU Becomes 1 Of World’s Top Imaging Centers

At Florida State University, the collective strength of biomedical research and the scientists who lead it has earned a $2 million High-End Instrumentation (HEI) grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The one-year award will help FSU buy a state-of-the-art robotic electron microscope to advance cutting-edge studies of HIV/AIDS, heart disease, hypertension and cancer.

FSU will have $4.8 million in total funding after it matches the $2 million NIH award with $2.8 million from monies the university has set aside specifically to support research.

“Installing this groundbreaking technology will place us among the very top imaging centers in the world,” said FSU College of Arts and Sciences Dean Joseph Travis. He declared the competition “unbelievably tough” for HEI grants, which come from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a part of NIH that provides laboratory scientists and clinical researchers with the tools and training they need to understand, detect, treat and prevent a wide range of diseases.

For its $4.8 million investment, FSU will get a fully automated cryo-electron microscope that provides rapid, 3-D imaging of frozen specimens around-the-clock via remote operation, then transmits them over the Internet. In addition to significantly speeding the collection of crucial data, researchers in biology and chemistry at FSU and colleagues at other institutions will get unprecedented views of — and 24/7 access to — the intricate interactions of individual proteins and molecular machines within the living cells of complex biological structures.

“Currently, the world’s only working installation of this microscope is in Germany,” Travis said. “In the U.S., FSU will have one of only four. The others will be installed at NIH itself; the University of California-Berkeley; and the National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research at the University of California-San Diego — all acknowledged as the best in the nation for structural biology and structural biological imaging. FSU soon will have capabilities unmatched by all but a few institutions in the nation.”

Travis noted that it’s extremely rare to see an HEI grant, especially such a large one, awarded to a single group of investigators; typically awards of that type go to national centers or nationwide facilities serving multiple groups. “It’s quite a testament to the scientific ingenuity of the group that will comprise the instrument’s primary users, the importance of the work they do, and the commitment FSU has made to their research areas,” he said.

“Innovative biomedical research requires frequent access to the newest and most advanced technology,” said Barbara Alving, M.D., director of NCRR. “Such tools play key roles in the study of disease and the fundamental mechanisms of biological function, ultimately leading to new advances and treatments for diseases.”

Expected to stand 16 feet high and weigh 1.7 tons, the new microscope will serve as a crucial tool to the cadre of FSU scientists who will share it once required renovations to the building in which it will be housed are completed in 2009.

“This instrument will be cutting-edge in several ways,” said biological science Professor Kenneth Taylor, the principal investigator on FSU’s award-winning grant application.

“Not only is it robotic, collecting data continually without operation attention, in fact it can only be operated remotely,” Taylor said. “There’s no conventional ‘binocular’ for the user to view the image. What’s more, the microscope can be operated and the images viewed by anyone in the U.S. with high-speed Internet capability and the required, specially designed workstation.”

Five major FSU research projects helped secure the NIH-NCRR grant for 2008.

Among them is a cell adhesion study led by Taylor, a member of the unique interdisciplinary FSU Institute of Molecular Biophysics (, where the current research focus is structural biology. Taylor’s work is focused on integrin, a key adhesion/signaling protein, and is critical to a better understanding of why cancer cells don’t respond to the positional signals that encourage good behavior, and instead, wander away to colonize other tissues (metastasis).

The other four collaborating scientists and their winning research include:
Professor Kenneth Roux (Department of Biological Science), who uses electron microscopy to analyze AIDS virus envelope (Env) proteins, several of which are being considered as vaccine candidates. The work supports the design of neutralizing antibodies and other disease treatments.

Professor Thomas Roberts (Department of Biological Science), who studies the biophysics and cell biology of crawling motion by amoeboid cells and the structure of certain proteins crucial to that process.

Assistant Professor Scott Stagg (Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; member, FSU Institute of Molecular Biophysics) who studies the three-dimensional structures of large biological molecules that play a key role in transporting proteins and fats from the inside of the cell to the outside. Disrupting these functions can cause cell death or one of several diseases.

Former FSU Professor Dr. Michael Chapman (Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry). Now at Oregon Health Sciences University, he’ll use the new microscope remotely for research begun at FSU on the structure of the Adeno Associated Virus — which has potential for use in gene therapy.
In addition, the grant application highlighted relevant research by FSU Francis Eppes Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Sir Harold W. Kroto, winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry; and Professor Geoffrey F. Strouse, a member of the Department of Chemistry and the Institute of Molecular Biophysics.
In the emerging fields of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Kroto and colleagues in Germany and Mexico have shown that nanotubes can grow by carbon migration through a metal catalyst and segregate in much the same way that a skin forms on a surface. They will use FSU’s new microscope to help develop novel ways to control the morphology of nanoscale structures.

Strouse designs biomedical drug therapies combining nanoscience technology and biology’s natural machinery to personalize drug therapies to the individual patient. Using nanomaterial produced at FSU and 1,000 times smaller than a human hair, the technology may one day be used to treat genetic disorders such as heart disease, sickle cell anemia and cystic fibrosis.

“When it is installed next year, our new-generation cryo-electron microscope will complement the sophisticated imaging components FSU already has in place at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and in labs on its main campus, and should attract an enormous amount of attention from the rest of the country,” said FSU Vice President for Research Kirby Kemper. “As a result, we expect to draw even more of the nation’s best students to Florida State for some of the world’s best science research opportunities.”


For 2008, FSU ( was one of 100 institutions that submitted applications to NCRR (ncrr.nih/) for an HEI grant and among the 20 that garnered one of the coveted awards, which ranged from nearly $851,000 to $2 million. For additional details on this year’s HEI awardees, visit ncrr.nih/hei_2008. For more information about NIH, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, go to nih/.

Source: Kenneth Taylor

Florida State University Continue reading

U.S. Should Establish Initiative To Mobilize Health Workers To Countries Affected By HIV/AIDS, Commentary Says

HIV/AIDS is “essentially the black death of the 21st century, killing on a massive scale and threatening to cripple economies and topple governments,” Fitzhugh Mullan of George Washington University’s Department of Health Policy writes in a commentary in the Feb. 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. According to Mullan, the “sheer volume of health workers needed to tackle” HIV/AIDS and the “health systems to support their work” are “off the scale of any previous public health campaign.” This issue is “compounded by the impoverished nature of the health systems in many countries where HIV/AIDS is rampant and, in particular, by the critical shortage of physicians, nurses and other health workers in these nations,” Mullan writes, adding that there can be “no meaningful response to HIV/AIDS without sufficient health workers to plan, implement and sustain the effort.” According to Mullan, the U.S. should establish a “bold national program similar to one proposed” in a 2005 Institute of Medicine report that would “mobilize the numbers of U.S. health workers ready to commit to working abroad in the long-term battle against HIV/AIDS and other diseases of poverty.” He adds that long-term placements for U.S. health workers are necessary to “help build training programs, create pharmacy distribution networks, monitor patients and maintain treatment … for years.” Such a commitment from the U.S. would “provide benefit well beyond the patients treated, the health workers trained or the medical schools staffed,” Mullan writes, adding, “This commitment would be a highly tangible manifestation of U.S. generosity, a contribution by gifted and trained Americans” and a “restatement of the U.S. commitment to the global community.” A U.S. initiative to mobilize health workers to countries affected by HIV/AIDS would be a “small program with a big footprint,” Mullan writes, concluding, “Like the Peace Corps, it would say something about the United States — a message the world needs to hear” (Mullan, JAMA, 2/21).

“Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . © 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved. Continue reading

Toronto Star Examines Gates Foundation’s Role In Battle Against HIV/AIDS

The Toronto Star on Saturday examined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is “arguably as influential in the AIDS battle today as the World Health Organization or United Nations.” The Gates’ involvement in HIV/AIDS has led both of them to the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto, where they will be keynote speakers at the opening session, according to the Star (Westhead, Toronto Star, 7/29).

Kaisernetwork will serve as official webcaster of the conference. Sign up now to receive free daily email updates during the conference at kaisernetwork/aids2006.

“Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . © 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved. Continue reading

Food Shortages Pose Obstacles To HIV Treatment In Mozambique

Although antiretroviral medications are provided at no cost in Mozambique and access to the drugs is “relatively easy,” large numbers of HIV-positive Mozambicans are dropping out of treatment programs because of a lack of food, Medecins Sans Frontieres said recently, IRIN/Plus News reports.

According to IRIN/Plus News, antiretrovirals should be taken with regular meals to allow the body to combat opportunistic infections associated with HIV/AIDS; however, some HIV-positive people lose their jobs when their health declines, which makes it difficult to afford food and continue treatment. “It’s hard to know the specific reasons why people abandon treatment, but there are lots of patients with low weight and nutrition problems,” Clarice Nheleti, psychologist and supervisor at MSF’s psychosocial unit, said.

MSF has responded to these nutrition problems by establishing a food support program in Mozambique’s capital of Maputo for HIV-positive patients who have unstable economic circumstances. Because the organization is unable to assist all people in need, MSF focuses on people who are “visibly weak, those who come from families with no possessions and those who are too feeble to work,” Nheleti said. MSF provides support for six months, which is generally long enough for patients to regain their strength and return to work, IRIN/Plus News reports.

In Mozambique, 16% of the population of 21 million people is HIV-positive, and more than 300,000 people experience severe food insecurity. According to Mozambique’s Department of Health, of the 88,000 adults and 6,000 children taking antiretroviral drugs by the end of 2007, only 9.7% were receiving food aid. “Talking about nutrition in Mozambique is extremely complex, because the question of lack of food does not only affect HIV-positive patients,” Amos Sibambo — an advocate from the National Network of Associations of People Living with HIV/AIDS, or Rensida — said. Sibambo emphasized the need for the government and civil society to understand the importance of nutrition for people living with HIV and to take action to address these issues. Rensida plans to raise awareness of these topics on World Food Day, scheduled for Oct. 16, by organizing lectures by nutritionists and presentations on specific diets for people living with HIV (IRIN/Plus News, 8/11).

Reprinted with kind permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

© 2008 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved. Continue reading