national institute of allergy and infections diseases

Produced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), under a magnification of 25,000X, this digitally-colorized scanning electron microscopic (SEM) image depicts numerous filamentous Ebola virus particles (blue) budding from a chronically-infected VERO E6 cell (yellow-green).

Ebola is one of numerous Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers. It is a severe, often fatal disease in humans and nonhuman primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees).

Ebola is caused by infection with a virus of the family Filoviridae, genus Ebolavirus. When infection occurs, symptoms usually begin abruptly. The first Ebolavirus species was discovered in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo near the Ebola River. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically. See the Flickr link for additional SEM NIAID Ebola virus imagery.

South African nine-year-old becomes third HIV infected child to go into remission

A South African nine-year-old is the world’s third child born with HIV to go into remission, scientists have said.

The child has had a healthy immune system for more than eight years after receiving a short course of treatment in early life, according to a new study.

Researchers believe aggressive treatment soon after infection could enable long-term remission of the disease – which, if it lasts, would be a form of cure for the deadly virus.

HIV-positive individuals must take daily antiretroviral drugs (ART) for their whole lives to control the infection’s progression.

But experts were surprised by the results of the clinical trial, presented at a conference in Paris, which appears to have left the child with no need for medication.

The study was sponsored by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which previously found that early treatment helped babies survive.

Researchers did not identify the minor but said they started on HIV drugs when they were two months old and stopped 40 weeks later.

Tests when the child was nine and a half years old found signs of the virus in a small number of immune system cells, but none capable of reproducing.

The child does not have a gene mutation that gives natural resistance to HIV infection, the researchers said, so remission seems likely due to the early treatment.

Experts have stressed the case is extremely rare, and does not suggest a simple path to a future cure for Aids, which killed an estimated 1.1 million people worldwide in 2015.

Linda-Gail Bekker, president of the International Aids Society, said the study raises the “interesting notion that maybe treatment isn’t for life” but was “clearly a rare phenomenon”.

“It’s a case that raises more questions than it necessarily answers,” she told Reuters.

So far, similar results have been seen in two other children, one in the US and another in France.

A French woman who was born with HIV and is now around 20 has had her infection under control despite no HIV medication since she was around six years old.

And the infection was suppressed in a baby born with the virus in Mississippi in 2010 for 27 months after stopping treatment before it reappeared in her blood. She was able to control the virus again after treatment resumed.

Around 18 million people – half of all those living with HIV around the world – take ART, which can cause unpleasant side effects.

These drugs could in future be replaced with six yearly injections that slowly and continuously release HIV medication into the blood, scientists also revealed in separate research.

At least a dozen adults have had remissions lasting for years after stopping HIV medication.

A study under way now is testing whether treating HIV-infected newborns within two days of birth can control the virus later after treatment stops.

It started in 2014 in South America, Haiti, Africa and the United States, and some of the earliest participants might be able to experiment with stopping treatment later this year.

Access to drugs and fewer people being infected with HIV have led to a steep fall in the number of deaths related to the virus, according to the World Health Organisation. In 2015, 45 per cent fewer people died of the virus compared to in 2005.

Dr Michael Brady, medical director of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said the case report was “really interesting” and called for further research into the phenomenon.

“Early HIV therapy, in both children and adults, has been shown to reduce some of the damage to the immune system that HIV causes in the first few weeks and months of infection,” he said.

“If we can understand this mechanism better it will hopefully lead to novel treatment strategies and, maybe one day, a cure.

“Further research is needed, but this case adds to the hope that, one day, we may be able to prevent the need for life-long therapy with a short course of early HIV treatment in infancy.

“For now, however, early diagnosis and life-long treatment for HIV remain our best options for fighting the epidemic.”

Phage therapy gets revitalized (Nature News)

For decades, patients behind the Iron Curtain were denied access to some of the best antibiotics developed in the West. To make do, the Soviet Union invested heavily in the use of bacteriophages — viruses that kill bacteria — to treat infections. Phage therapy is still widely used in Russia, Georgia and Poland, but never took off elsewhere. “This is a virus, and people are afraid of viruses,” says Mzia Kutateladze, who is the head of the scientific council at the Eliava Institute in Tbilisi, which has been studying phages and using them to treat patients for nearly a century.

Now, faced with the looming spectre of antibiotic resistance, Western researchers and governments are giving phages a serious look. In March, the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases listed phage therapy as one of seven prongs in its plan to combat antibiotic resistance. And at the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) meeting in Boston last month, Grégory Resch of the University of Lausanne in Switzerland presented plans for Phagoburn: the first large, multi-centre clinical trial of phage therapy for human infections, funded by the European Commission.

String-like Ebola virus peeling off an infected cell

After multiplying inside a host cell, the stringlike Ebola virus is emerging to infect more cells. Ebola is a rare, often fatal disease that occurs primarily in tropical regions of sub-Saharan Africa. The virus is believed to spread to humans through contact with wild animals, especially fruit bats. It can be transmitted between one person and another through bodily fluids.

Image courtesy of Heinz Feldmann, Peter Jahrling, Elizabeth Fischer and Anita Mora, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health. Part of the exhibit Life:Magnified by ASCB and NIGMS.

source

Made with Flickr

Produced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), this digitally-colorized scanning electron microscopic (SEM) image of a dry-fractured Vero cell revealed its contents, and the ultrastructural details at the site of an opened vacuole, inside of which you can see numerous Coxiella burnetii bacteria undergoing rapid replication. Please see the Flickr link below for additional NIAID photomicrographs of various microbes.

Infection of humans by Coxiella burnetii bacteria usually occurs by inhalation of these organisms from air that contains airborne barnyard dust contaminated by dried placental material, birth fluids, and excreta of infected animals. Other modes of transmission to humans, including tick bites, ingestion of unpasteurized milk or dairy products, and human to human transmission, are rare. Humans are often very susceptible to the disease, and very few organisms may be required to cause infection.

Copyright Restrictions: None - This image is in the public domain and thus free of any copyright restrictions. As a matter of courtesy we request that the content provider be credited and notified in any public or private usage of this image.

When scientists made the stunning announcement last year that a baby born with H.I.V. had apparently been cured through aggressive drug treatment just 30 hours after birth, there was immediate skepticism that the child had been infected in the first place.

But on Wednesday, the existence of a second such baby was revealed at an AIDS conference here, leaving little doubt that the treatment works. A leading researcher said there might be five more such cases in Canada and three in South Africa.

And a clinical trial in which up to 60 babies who are born infected will be put on drugs within 48 hours is set to begin soon, another researcher added.

If that trial works — and it will take several years of following the babies to determine whether it has — the protocol for treating all 250,000 babies born infected each year worldwide will no doubt be rewritten.

“This could lead to major changes, for two reasons,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, executive director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Both for the welfare of the child, and because it is a huge proof of concept that you can cure someone if you can treat them early enough.”

The announcement was the third piece of hopeful news in two days about the virus that causes AIDS.

On Tuesday, scientists reported that injections of long-lasting AIDS drugs fended off infection in monkeys, and on Wednesday, researchers announced a “gene editing” advance that might enable immune cells to repel the virus.

The first infant to make an apparent recovery from H.I.V. infection, now famous as the “Mississippi baby,” was described last March at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, the same annual meeting where the new case was reported on Wednesday.

The Mississippi child, now more than 3 years old, is still virus-free, said Dr. Deborah Persaud, a virologist who has run ultrasensitive tests on both children in her lab at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore.

The second baby, a girl born at Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach, Calif., is now 9 months old and apparently free of the virus that causes AIDS.

Her mother, who has advanced AIDS and is mentally ill, arrived in labor; she had been prescribed drugs to protect her baby but had not taken them.

Four hours after the birth, a pediatrician, Dr. Audra Deveikis, drew blood for an H.I.V. test and immediately started the baby on three drugs — AZT, 3TC and nevirapine — at the high doses usually used for treatment of the virus.

The normal preventive regimen for newborns would be lower doses of two drugs; doctors usually do not use the more aggressive treatment until they are sure the baby is infected, and then sometimes not in the first weeks.

“Of course I had worries,” Dr. Deveikis said in an interview here. “But the mother’s disease was not under control, and I had to weigh the risk of transmission against the toxicity of the meds.”

“I’d heard of the Mississippi baby, I’d watched the video,” she added. “I knew that if you want to prevent infection, early treatment is critical.”

— 

The New York Times, “Early Treatment Is Found to Clear HIV In a Second Baby.”

Amazing.  

Promising.  

Important.

2nd case of MERS discovered in US

NBC Chicago: The CDC is investigating a second case of MERS or the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, the agency announced Monday.

This new case was discovered in Florida, ten days after the first US case was discovered in the Chicago area.

Follow the latest at Breaking News

Photo: This undated electron microscope image made availalbe by the National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows novel coronavirus particles, also known as the MERS virus, colorized in yellow. (AP via NBC Chicago)

Another MERS infection detected in the US, CDC says

NBC News: A business associate of the man who brought the first case of Middle East respiratory syndrome to the U.S. has also tested positive for the disease, though he showed no signs of illness, federal health officials said Saturday.

Follow more on MERS at Breaking News

Photo: The Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus is seen in an undated transmission electron micrograph from the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (Reuters via NBCNews.com)

New “Incredibly Potent” Antibiotic Made By Altering Workhorse Medicine

by Michael Keller

An antibiotic whose effectiveness has been on the wane in recent years after bacteria started developing resistance to it might get a new lease on life thanks to some serious chemistry work. 

Vancomycin, an antibiotic derived from a soil-dwelling bacterium originally found in Borneo, has been used to treat a range of bacterial infections over the last 56 years. It works by latching onto bacterial cell walls and preventing them from sealing closed. This leaves the microbes leaky and unable to survive. The drug has been used successfully to treat infections by bacteria that had developed resistance to other antibiotics.

But since at least the late 1980s, several types of bacteria have been evolving defenses against the drug. All that it takes for the microorganism to develop resistance is an alteration in a single amino acid in the cell wall for the drug to be much less successful at binding to it. That alteration has shown up in several bacterial species within the genera Enterococcus and Staphylococcus, two common sources of debilitating or fatal infections around the world.

Keep reading

CDC: Illinois man didn’t have MERS after all

NBC News: Federal health officials said on Wednesday that an Illinois man believed to be infected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome didn’t have signs of the disease after all.

A more sensitive and “definitive” test came back negative for Middle East respiratory syndrome in the man who was originally thought to have been infected by the first U.S. MERS case, an Indiana health worker who contracted the virus in Saudi Arabia, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Follow more on MERS at Breaking News

Photo: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/Reuters via NBCNews.com