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Welcome back to the Infectious Disease Curator – and to the last issue (and day) of 2021! Time flies, right?

Last week, we looked back on this year’s COVID-19 research, but now it’s time to shine a spotlight on other infectious diseases. Earlier this year, we made the transition from the COVID-19 Curator (OG subscribers will remember) to the Infectious Disease Curator – and I'm very pleased we did; from the world’s first malaria vaccine to groundbreaking data from England’s HPV vaccine program, the research landscape has been top notch – and I’ve highlighted some of the best bits below.

Before I leave you to read and be on your way, I want to ask you a quick favor. Going into 2022, I want to bring you more of what you want every time I slide into your inbox. You all know I love a good survey, so I’d be grateful if you could quickly answer these four questions on the type of content you’d like to see in the new year.

I hope you all have a happy new year – and thank you for being a part of the Curator community!

See you next year,

Liv Gaskill, The Curator

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Top Stories

World's first. The WHO announced it is “recommending widespread use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high P. falciparum malaria transmission." Targeting the most deadly malaria parasite, the vaccine (used on top of existing efforts) could save tens of thousands of lives per year.

So long, HPV. According to the first real-world data, the national human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine program in England has "almost eliminated" cervical cancer incidence in young women born since 1995. The study looked at data from a population-based cancer registry between 2006–2019, finding significant reductions in the rate of cancer across cohorts – up to 87 percent for those girls vaccinated aged 12–13 years.

Promising step forward. Researchers developed a live attenuated simian HIV (SHIV) to express the adjuvant molecule Ag85B and found that, in cynomolgus macaques, the virus could not be detected four weeks post-injection. Strong virus-specific T cell responses were also found. At 37 weeks post-injection, when macaques were challenged with pathogenic SHIV 89.6P, the infection was still not detected.

Living medicine. Researchers created a “living medicine” – engineering Mycoplasma pneumoniae to treat antibiotic-resistant bacteria growing on medical implants. Their findings demonstrate important progress toward developing treatments for infections that affect medical implants such as catheters, pacemakers, and prosthetic joint.

Best of the Rest

Switch and swap. Switching between β-lactam antibiotics found to effectively kill Pseudomonas aeruginosa and prevent resistance; rapid switching also increased bacterial population extinction over a slower switching regimen [LINK]

Laying in wait. New outbreaks of Zaire ebolavirus could be caused by transmission from humans infected during previous epidemic, suggesting persistent infection with reduced replication or a period of latency [LINK]

Fight the resistance. Algorithm accurately identifies asymptomatic methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MSRA) carriers in both simulated and real-world settings; isolating one percent of high-risk patients every four weeks led to 12 percent reduction of MSRA colonization [LINK]


Another setback. Johnson & Johnson announced results of HIV vaccine trial “Imbokodo,” demonstrating only 25.2 percent efficacy (63 infections in placebo group, 51 in vaccinated group); results too low to proceed any further [LINK]

Ties that bind. Researchers describe structure of key protein on the surface of hepatitis C virus (HCV) and its interaction with human cell receptor CD81; HCV E2 easily binds to CD81 under acidic conditions and changes shape to facilitate cell entry [LINK]

Stopped in its tracks. Precision-guided sterile insect technique alters genes linked to male mosquito fertility and female flight and could be used to curb spread of mosquito-borne disease [LINKS: 1, 2]

Great escape. Study of blood samples from over 12,000 individuals in Ethiopia estimates “test-treat-track” strategy may have missed nearly 10 percent of malaria cases caused by Plasmodium falciparum [LINK]

New approach needed. Review finds 38.5 percent of HIV studies subsumed transgender participants into cisgender populations; transgender women were most frequently combined with cisgender men who have sex with men, while transgender men and gender expansive people were rarely included [LINK]

Express test. Researchers develop electrochemical assay to identify antibiotic resistance in less than 90 minutes; demonstrates marked improvement on one- to two-day wait for conventional tests [LINK]

Inducing tick resistance. New mRNA vaccine based on “tick immunity” halts transmission of Lyme disease in guinea pigs; vaccine codes for 19 proteins from saliva of Ixodes scapularis and led to no positive tests for Borrelia burgdorferi after being bitten by ticks [LINK]

Bracing for biowarfare. Researchers describe approach to treating anthrax infection in mice; CapD-CP protected 10 mice from non-toxic strain of anthrax and 8 out of 10 mice from fully virulent strain when administered 24 hours after exposure [LINK]

Under the radar. 80 percent of people with HIV who were not responding to their current antiretroviral therapy achieved undetectable viral load after receiving novel drug lenacapavir; treatment is injected in the belly twice per year [LINK]
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