What is Multiple Myeloma?

From Janssen EMEA

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See link here.

Quest for new antibiotics gets first major funding from global partnership

A major global partnership aimed at fighting superbugs announced Thursday that it is investing up to $48 million in research projects, including potentially the first new classes of antibiotics in decades, to target the deadliest drug-resistant bacteria.

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The investments announced by CARB-X include $24 million in immediate funding for 11 companies. The firms can receive up to $24 million in additional payments over three years if they meet specific milestones.

The projects represent a broad range of approaches. Three companies are working on new classes of antibiotics, a significant development because the last class that made it to market was in 1984. Four companies are developing nontraditional therapeutics to boost the human immune response and disable pathogens’ ability to grow. Yet another company is pursuing a diagnostic imaging tool to identify the type of bacteria causing a lung infection within 60 seconds.

All the projects are in early stages of research, when risk of failure is high, officials said. CARB-X, which stands for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator, was launched in July to stimulate such critical early-stage work. Its goal is to jump-start drug development with money and access to expertise, supporting companies with promising antibiotic candidates so they can attract enough private or public investment to advance development and eventually win regulatory approval.

 

Funding comes from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Wellcome Trust, a London-based global biomedical research charity. CARB-X aims to invest $450 million over five years with the goal of speeding up preclinical discovery and development of at least 20 antibacterial products and moving at least two of them into human trials. The partnership, which also includes academic, industry and other nongovernmental organizations, was created as part of the U.S. and British governments’ calls for global efforts to tackle antibiotic resistance.

The projects announced Thursday were selected out of 168 applications that flooded in within the first four days that proposals were accepted.  “These projects hold exciting potential in the fight against the deadliest antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” said Kevin Outterson, executive director of CARB-X and a law professor at Boston University, where the partnership is headquartered.

Everything about developing new antibiotics is difficult, he said. On the science side, that means finding a drug that only kills the bad bacteria, leaving good bacteria and the rest of human cells untouched. The economics for antibiotics also turn market incentives “upside down” because, unlike most new products that companies rush to sell, the best antibiotics need to kept on the shelf — to be used for  “last-ditch cases,” he said.

And because resistance will always develop, antibiotics are “the only drug class where we have to start all over every time we succeed,” Outterson said.

But interest has been strong. Additional funds are likely to be awarded later this year, and another 200 applications have already been received for the next cycle.

All the potential medicines under development in this first phase target Gram-negative bacteria, among the most dangerous types of superbugs because they are increasingly resistant to most available antibiotics. They include CRE, or carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, which U.S. health officials have dubbed “nightmare bacteria.”

These pathogens, which cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and wound or surgical site infections, have been identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization as the greatest threat to human health. They have built-in defenses that include a double membrane barrier and a mechanism that expels drugs, such as antibiotics, from the cell.

 

Drug-resistant infections kill an estimated 700,000 people a year globally. The more antibiotics are used, the less effective they become as bacteria develop resistance to them. Scientists, doctors and other public health officials have increasingly warned that if antibiotic resistance continued at its current rate, routine infections eventually would be life-threatening ones. Common modern surgeries, such as knee replacements, could again become precarious.

Last month, the World Health Organization announced its first list of drug-resistant “priority pathogens” to guide and promote research and development of new drugs. Of the 40 antibiotics in clinical development in the United States, fewer than half have the potential to treat the pathogens identified by the WHO, said Allan Coukell, senior director of health programs at the Pew Charitable Trust’s antibiotic-resistance project.

Experts said they are excited by the research CARB-X is funding.

“It’s hitting the right targets for potential drug development,” said Kathy Talkington, director of Pew’s antibiotic-resistance project. “It’s covering a diverse portfolio of products. It addresses the need for novelty.”

Eight companies are based in the United States and three in the United Kingdom. The projects also will receive business and drug development support from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, and other partners.

Companies that are developing potentially new classes of antibiotics include San Diego-based Forge Therapeutics, which was awarded $4 million over 15 months to spur development of a small molecule product to target an enzyme found only in Gram-negative bacteria and essential for its growth.

Visterra Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., was awarded $3 million over 12 months to develop an antibody with a potent antimicrobial compound engineered to kill all strains of the deadly Pseudomonas bacteria, including multidrug-resistant strains, the company said.

And Proteus IRC, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, is receiving $640,000 over 21 months to develop its technology to rapidly visualize bacteria in the deepest part of the human lungs.

Read article here.

Fresh optimism has been injected in HIV/AIDS research

Kudos to Gilead Sciences, Inc.!!

A Durban based scientist has been awarded over two and a half million dollars to fund HIV/AIDS research.

Toxoplasmosis: Truth, Fiction, and Crazy Cat Ladies?

Perhaps a bit lengthy, but a great overview of toxoplasmosis and its misconceptions by Dr. Janet L. Swanson, Director of Shelter Medicine, Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine reviews. Well worth the time.

Zika: The Untold Story

Every pathogen has a history. Here is an excellent piece from NOVA on Zika’s origin and evolution.

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Timothy Grass Allergy

Timothy grass (Phleum pretense) is a forage and hay crop native to Europe and Asia. It has also been adapted for use in North America. It’s one of the many grasses that produce grass pollen, a very common allergen.

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From allergysymptomsx.com

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Basic Information About Timothy Grass Allergy

  • Grass description: grass has flat leaves and grows two to four feet tall
  • Allergy type: Non-food allergy, grass pollen allergy
  • Habitat: Timothy grass is normally grown in Europe and Asia. It has also adapted to cool parts of Northern America. Despite its origins, it’s now widely available in the US. It’s commonly used as feeds for horses and grass for lawns.
  • Allergy season: June to July or early summer to fall
  • Allergic reactions: mild to severe, depending on the pollen count and the body’s sensitivity

Timothy Grass Allergy Causes

The main source of Timothy grass allergy is the pollen it gives off. These pollen are airborne and are so small, they could be inhaled without the person realizing it. Although the allergy is usually rampant during summer, there’s also a small chance of getting the allergy during other seasons.

Grass pollen is regional and seasonal, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Grass pollen count is affected by several factors such as time of the day, weather and season.

Timothy Grass Allergy Symptoms

As with other allergies, an individual’s reaction depends on how his immune system will react. Below is the list of common symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Asthma
  • Fever
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Watery eyes
  • Puffed eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Difficulty in breathing

The flower of Timothy grass starts to grow in the early summer, while the flower pollinates towards the end of summer or fall. The wind carries the pollens away from the flowers and it continues to linger on the environment until fall. This is when the most allergies are triggered. More pollen is carried into the air during hot and windy days, which is why most allergic reactions occur during summer and fall.

Tips For Preventing Timothy Grass Allergy

  • Stay indoors when the pollen count is high. You can get a pollen count report from weather reports and websites.
  • Wear a mask when mowing the lawn. If you could afford it, hire someone else to do the mowing.
  • If you could, choose a grass that doesn’t contain much pollen. Irish moss and dichondra could be good alternatives
  • Keep the grass short by mowing it frequently. Some grasses will eventually adapt to this, so you need to trim it regularly.
  • Stay indoors from 5:00 AM to 10:00 AM, as this is when the pollen count is highest. Leave outdoor activities until 5:00 PM, or after a heavy rain.
  • Always keep your home and car windows closed. This lessens their exposure to pollen. Avoid window and attic fans as they will draw air from outside of your house, which may be contaminated with pollen.
  • Regularly bathe your pets. Pollen could also be attached to them.
  • Use a dryer for your clothes. If you hang them outside, pollen can attach on your clothes. This will expose you and your house to the allergens.
  • Minimize your alcohol intake. A study from the National Institute of Public Health in Denmark last 2008 found a relation between alcohol and the allergy. Women who drank alcohol every week increased their susceptibility to the allergy by 3%. Alcohol also dehydrates the body, which can make the nasal symptoms worse.

Timothy Grass Allergy Treatment

  • Antihistamines
  • Oral Steroids
  • Injectable Steroids
  • Eyedrops
  • Grass Allergen Immunotherapy treatment (AIT) – this method uses sublingual grass pollen tablets. The tablets are now sold in Europe; however it’s not yet approved by the US FDA.

Read article here.

If you have been diagnosed with allergies to Timothy grass, cats, or dust mites, you might be eligible to donate plasma and earn $1200 or more. Visit www.plasmamedpatients.com for more info or call/text 561-962-5065.

Beyond Lyme: New Tick-Borne Diseases On The Rise In U.S.

It all started in the shower. Tucker Lane looked down, and there they were.

“Two ticks, on my right hip, directly next to each other,” he says.

At the time, Lane didn’t think much about it. He grew up on Cape Cod. Ticks are everywhere there in the summer. “Just another tick bite. Not a big deal,” he thought.

That was June. In September, everything changed.

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The world is in a new age of infectious diseases.

Over the past 60 years, the number of new diseases cropping up per decade has almost quadrupled. The number of disease outbreaks each year has more than tripled since 1980.

The U.S. is no exception.

The country is a hot spot for tick-borne diseases. In the past 50 years, scientists have detected at least a dozen new diseases transmitted by ticks.

“The more we look, in a sense, the more we find,” says Felicia Keesing, an ecologist at Bard College in upstate New York. “Around here, there’s anaplasmosis, babesiosis and a bacterium related to Lyme, which causes similar symptoms.”

And that’s just in the Northeast.

In the Midwest, you can find Heartland virus, a new Lyme-like disease and Bourbon virus — which is thought to be spread by ticks but hasn’t been proven yet. In the South, there’s Southern tick-associated rash illness. Out west, there’s a new type of spotted fever. And across a big swath of the country, there’s a disease called ehrlichiosis.

Most of these diseases are still rare. But one is especially worrying. “It’s a scary one,” Keesing says.

“Our local tick — this blacklegged tick — occasionally carries a deadly virus that’s called Powassan virus,” says Rick Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y.

Powassan is named after a town in Ontario, Canada, where the virus was discovered in 1958. Now it’s here in the U.S. The country records about seven cases each year on the East Coast and in the Upper Midwest.

What makes Powassan so dangerous is that it attacks the brain, making it swell up. In about 10 percent of cases, Powassan is deadly. And if you do recover, you have about a 50 percent chance of permanent neurological damage.

He was gone, just gone

Although doctors didn’t realize it at the time, it was Powassan flooding Lane’s brain.

Just a few days after he came down with his terrible headache, he was on life support in the ICU. His mother was sure she had lost him.

“If you opened his eyelids, he was just gone,” she says. “I have never been so devastated in my whole life.”

Doctors told her there really wasn’t anything else they could do for her son. But she never lost hope. “I did a lot of praying. I’ll tell you that much,” she says.

Then one morning, Cash went to visit Lane. He had been in a coma for a week. When she opened the door, she recalls, “he turned his head and looked at me.”

Then he tried to speak. “The only thing that came out was a ‘Ha,’ ” she says. “But he recognized me.”

From then on, Lane started to get better, quickly. He started to breathe on his own, to recognize people. In a couple of weeks he was out of the hospital.

As he woke up, Lane says, he was never scared or worried, because he was always surrounded by his family.

“My family and I are really close,” he says. “So when I woke up, they were all around me. My cousins were just joking with me and making me laugh and stuff like that. So it was all good.”

And it was all good. Lane’s recovery stunned doctors. “His recovery was truly remarkable,” says Lyons, his doctor.

But not everyone is as lucky as Lane.

Back in 2013, Lyn Snow of Rockland, Maine, also was bitten by a tick. She was 73, a well-known watercolor artist. Less than a week later, she was in the ICU, just like Lane.

“She subsequently went downhill, so unbelievably quickly,” says her daughter, Susan Whittington. “She became incoherent and delusional. She was talking to paintings.”

Within a few weeks, she was on a ventilator and completely unresponsive. Weeks went by. Eventually, Whittington got a diagnosis: Powassan.

That’s when we knew it was unrecoverable,” Whittington says. “That’s when we knew that we would have to let her go. And that’s what we did.”

It was all horrific,” she adds. “Just before my mom was bitten by the tick, she would walk 3 miles every day, ride horses with her grandchildren. She was an amazing grandma.”

Fighting back

There are many ways to protect yourself from tick-borne diseases. Wear long sleeves, spray on DEET and check yourself every night in the mirror — just to name a few.

But protecting whole towns, or even just a neighborhood, has been difficult.

“So far there have been no success stories of treating people’s individual properties in reducing cases of tick-borne diseases,” says Keesing.

But she and Ostfeld, her collaborator and husband, are trying to change that. They think they’ve come up with a way that may finally cut down on the cases of Lyme, Powassan and other tick-borne illnesses in the Northeast.

Their secret weapon is an unlikely critter.

“I can already feel that it’s a pretty fat mouse,” Ostfeld says, as he pulls out a white-footed mouse from a trap that’s been set up in a forest near his laboratory.

The traps are metal boxes, about the size of wine bottles, hidden underneath leaves. “Mice love to enter them,” Ostfeld says. “They love to enter dark tunnels.”

Ostfeld has been trapping and studying these little mice for more than 25 years. And he has found something critical to understanding tick-borne diseases: The mice are covered in ticks.

For some reason, ticks flock to mice. Other animals groom the bloodsuckers off and kill them. But mice don’t. They let the critters attach and feed on their face and ears.

Ostfeld says he has seen mice with 50, 60, even 100 ticks on their face and ears. “When I first noticed this, it really grabbed my attention.”

Most of these ticks are carrying Lyme disease, Ostfeld has found. Others are carrying anaplasmosis, babesiosis or Powassan. Some ticks harbor two, three or even four pathogens at once.

Theses observations gave him an idea: Use the mice to kill the ticks. Turn the mice into a little assassins, who run around the forest executing ticks.

This idea is surprisingly simple to carry out. Remember those boxes Ostfeld uses to trap mice? What if you put a tick-killing chemical inside the boxes?

A mouse walks into the box and is swiped with a little brush that applies a drop of the insecticide on its back.

“The chemical is the same that people put on their dogs and cats,” Ostfeld says. “But it’s an even tinier drop, much tinier. So a little bit goes a long way.”

And it lasts a long time. For weeks after the mouse leaves the box, it kills ticks that land on it.

But will it work in the real world?

This spring Ostfeld and Keesing have launched an experiment with 1,200 families in upstate New York to find out. Some families will get these tick boxes in their yards. Some will get a fungus sprayed on their shrubbery, which is known to kill ticks. And some will get neither.

Over the next five years, Ostfeld and Keesing will check to see whether the boxes and fungus keep people from getting tick-borne diseases.

Keesing is hopeful.

If anything is going to work to reduce the number of tick-borne disease cases in neighborhoods, this is going to be it,” she says.

Because here’s the thing about ticks: It’s not enough for just one or two families in a neighborhood to protect their yards, Keesing says. The whole community has to come together, in a concerted effort, to fight the onslaught of tick-borne diseases.

Read article here.

If you have been diagnosed with a tick-borne disease, you might be eligible to donate plasma and earn $1200 or more. Visit www.plasmamedpatients.com for more info or call/text 561-962-5065.