Nobel Prize Calls Attention to Diseases of Poverty

October 9th, 2015|Blog, Malaria|

A lot of excitement is generated during the week the Nobel Prizes are awarded. This particular Nobel week was extra special for any microbiologist or drug hunter as the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 2015 was awarded to three scientists involved in discovering important and novel therapies for parasitic diseases – malaria and roundworms. Youyou Tu was awarded for the discovery of artemisinin, a product derived from a plant (sweet wormwood) used in traditional Chinese medicine, that had excellent activity against the malaria parasite. She was instrumental in discovering the active ingredient in the plant, which can be a difficult and long process, as well figuring out its chemical structure. This led to artemisinin becoming part of the treatment for malaria and a great deal of human suffering being avoided. Although artemisinin resistance has appeared, it still forms part of combination therapy used to treat malaria, and has formed part of new treatments that reduced death rates almost by half. […]

The Silent Soldiers of War

May 21st, 2015|Drugs, Leishmaniasis, Malaria, News, Tuberculosis, Vaccines|

As Memorial Day arrives to herald the start of summer, it’s time to pause in remembrance of U.S. Armed Forces members who lost their lives during service to their country. And, over the course of time, hundreds of thousands of those lives were claimed by silent soldiers that have no loyalty to country or flag, with no respect for borders: infectious diseases. During the U.S. Civil War, disease claimed more lives than bullets; upwards of two-thirds of deaths in the war were attributed to disease. Smallpox, along with dysentery, typhoid fever, scarlet fever, measles, malaria, consumption (tuberculosis) and a host of other infectious diseases, cut a swath through soldiers on both sides. Often before they even faced their human enemies, soldiers were hit by a wave of infection,  soon after arrival in camp. Those from rural areas were most vulnerable, lacking the immunity to childhood diseases those from urban areas often had.  And, disease epidemics played a significant role in halting several major campaigns during the Civil War, with these delays prolonging the fighting by as much as two years. […]

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