Tag Archives | Disease

Donors Pledge $4.3 Billion For Child Vaccinations In Poor Nations

PoliodropsA case of good humanitarians. Via Reuters:

International donors led by Britain and Bill Gates pledged $4.3 billion on Monday to buy vaccines to protect children in poor countries against potential killers such as diarrheal diseases and pneumonia.

“But every 20 seconds, a child still dies of a vaccine-preventable disease. There’s more work to be done.”

The funding should allow more than 250 million of the world’s poorest children to be vaccinated by 2015, helping to prevent more than four million premature deaths, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) said.

“Today is an important moment in our collective commitment to protecting children in developing countries from disease,” said Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who attended the pledging conference in London.

[Continues at Reuters]… Read the rest

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UN Asks The World To Put An End To AIDS By 2020

AIDSUNWith numerous research groups inching closer to a cure for AIDS, the United Nations asks that leaders throughout the world end the pandemic by 2020. While one of the largest problems in the spread of AIDS is the lack of knowledge about the disease and access to treatment in certain areas, there is also a lack of funding to facilities that are on a progressive path towards a cure, but are stopped because of finances. The Christian Post reports:

World leaders must do everything in their power to end the AIDS pandemic by 2020, the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said at the U.N. Summit on AIDS in New York.

“Today, we gather to end AIDS,” Ban said as the United Nations General Assembly opened on Wednesday.

The three-day summit is being held as the world marks the 30th anniversary since HIV was first discovered. Ban told delegates gathered from across the world that AIDS must end: “That is our goal – zero new infections, zero stigma and zero AIDS-related deaths.”

Ban urged: “If we are to relegate AIDS to the history books we must be bold.

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Waxy Monkey Frog Skin Could Treat Cancer

473px-Sad_frog

Photo: Alexander Maier (CC)

Belfast Telegraph reports:

A little-known frog from South America could hold the key to lifesaving treatments for up to 70 devastating medical conditions, Northern Ireland researchers have found.

Scientists from Queen’s University in Belfast have discovered the poetically-named Waxy Monkey Frog could be used in the fight against cancer.

They also found that the Giant Fire-bellied Toad, native to China and Vietnam, has the potential to treat an array of diseases including diabetes and stroke.

It will bring hope to the 8,500 people in Northern Ireland diagnosed with cancer each year and more than 3,500 people here who are told each year they have diabetes.

The Queen’s boffins stumbled upon the amazing breakthrough – which could revolutionise the treatment of billions of patients around the globe – purely by accident.

[Continues at Belfast Telegraph]… Read the rest

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How A Human Virus Is Killing Endangered Gorillas

Mountain Gorilla

Photo: FlickreviewR (CC)

Alasdair Wilkins writes in io9:

There’s fewer than 800 Mountain Gorillas left in the entire world, and their survival depends in part on people willing to pay money to go see them. But all this human interaction is bringing gorillas into contact with dangerous diseases.

Although humans are most closely related to chimpanzees, gorillas rank a very respectable second, sharing about 98% of their DNA with us. The current zoological consensus is that there are two distinct species of gorillas, western and eastern, and these are further divided into two subspecies each.

While all the gorilla species are to some degree threatened, the population levels vary wildly. There are at least 100,000 Western Lowland Gorillas in the wild, and 4,000 in zoos, while fellow western subspecies, the rarely seen Cross River Gorilla, is thought to have a remaining population of just 280. As for the eastern subspecies, the Eastern Lowland Gorilla has a relatively healthy population of about 4,000.

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U.S. Warns Of Zombie Apocalypse

Hard to believe that this is a real communication from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, but it is! From the official CDC blog:

There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.

A Brief History of Zombies

We’ve all seen at least one movie about flesh-eating zombies taking over (my personal favorite is Resident Evil), but where do zombies come from and why do they love eating brains so much? The word zombie comes from Haitian and New Orleans voodoo origins. Although its meaning has changed slightly over the years, it refers to a human corpse mysteriously reanimated to serve the undead.

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‘Berlin Patient’ May Be First Man Cured Of AIDS

aids-cure-firstFrom CBS via Radio Television Caraibes reports:

A 45-year-old man now living in the Bay Area may be the first person ever cured of the deadly disease AIDS, the result of the discovery of an apparent HIV immunity gene.

Timothy Ray Brown tested positive for HIV back in 1995, but has now entered scientific journals as the first man in world history to have that HIV virus completely eliminated from his body in what doctors call a “functional cure.”

Brown was living in Berlin, Germany back in 2007, dealing with HIV and leukemia, when scientists there gave him a bone marrow stem cell transplant that had astounding results.

“I quit taking my HIV medication the day that I got the transplant and haven’t had to take any since,” said Brown, who has been dubbed “The Berlin Patient” by the medical community.

Brown’s amazing progress continues to be monitored by doctors at San Francisco General Hospital and at the University of California at San Francisco medical center.

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Drugs Help ‘Reduce’ HIV Transmission

HIV-1 particles assembling at the surface of an infected macrophage.

HIV-1 particles assembling at the surface of an infected macrophage.

BBC News reports:

An HIV-positive person who takes anti-retroviral drugs after diagnosis, rather than when their health declines, can cut the risk of spreading the virus to uninfected partners by 96%, according to a study.

The United States National Institutes of Health sampled 1,763 couples in which one partner was infected by HIV.

It was abandoned four years early as the trial was so successful. The World Health Organization said it was a “crucial development”.

The study began in 2005 at 13 sites across across Africa, Asia and the Americas.

HIV-positive patients were split into two groups. In one, individuals were immediately given a course of anti-retroviral drugs. The other group only received the treatment when their white blood cell count fell.

Both were given counselling on safe sex practices, free condoms and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Among those immediately starting anti-retroviral therapy there was only one case of transmission between partners.

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The Plague Returns!

Man with bubonic plague.

Man with bubonic plague.

I thought that the plague had been eradicated in the Old World of Europe centuries ago. Shows how much I know – it’s back, in New Mexico of all places. Phillip Caulfield reports for the Daily News:

A 58-year-old man in New Mexico was recently treated for bubonic plague, the first case of the disease formerly known as “Black Death” to surface in 2011.

Health officials in Santa Fe said the unidentified man spent a week in the hospital after suffering high fever, intense pain in his stomach and groin and swollen lymph nodes.

He was treated and released, but officials would not say when.

The results of blood tests released Thursday confirmed the man had bubonic plague, officials said.

Doctors said the man was most likely bitten by a flea carrying the plague bacteria, the most common method of transmission to humans.

Rat-borne fleas can carry the bacterium, and humans can also catch the disease from contact with infected rodents or animals.

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Morgellons: A Hidden Epidemic Or Mass Hysteria?

morgellons_picsIs Morgellons disease from out of this world or all in our heads? Will Storr from the Guardian writes:

It all started in August 2007, on a family holiday in New England. Paul had been watching Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix with his wife and two sons, and he had started to itch. His legs, his arms, his torso – it was everywhere. It must be fleas in the seat, he decided.

But the 55-year-old IT executive from Birmingham has been itching ever since, and the mystery of what is wrong with him has only deepened. When Paul rubbed his fingertips over the pimples that dotted his skin, he felt spines. Weird, alien things, like splinters. Then, in 2008, his wife was soothing his back with surgical spirit when the cotton swab she was using gathered a curious blue-black haze from his skin. Paul went out, bought a £40 microscope and examined the cotton.

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Will Nanotechnology Save Us From Drug-Resistant Bacteria?

staphThe future: injecting tiny nanoparticles into our bodies to fight the superbugs against which our immune systems are powerless. How could that ever go wrong? Via Technology Review:

Researchers at IBM are designing nanoparticles that kill bacteria by poking holes in them. The scientists hope that the microbes are less likely to develop resistance to this type of drug, which means it could be used to combat the emerging problem of antibiotic resistance.

IBM’s labs aren’t equipped for biological tests, so the researchers collaborated with Yi Yan Yang at the Singapore Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology to test the nanoparticles. They found that the nanoparticles could burst open and kill gram-positive bacteria, a large class of microbes that includes drug-resistant staph. The nanoparticles also killed fungi.

The IBM researchers believe the drug could be injected intravenously to treat people with life-threatening infections. Or it could be made into a gel that could be applied to wounds to treat or prevent infection.

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