Reasons to Believe: New Hope for Leprosy

January 23rd, 2015|Leprosy, News, Vaccines|

Leprosy clinic in the Philippines. Over the course of a year, IDRI welcomes hundreds of visitors to tour our labs and learn more about our infectious disease research and product development. Invariably, one thing takes our guests by surprise: leprosy, a disease that many associate with biblical times, still exists. While global elimination (which is defined as a prevalence rate of less than 1 case per 10,000 people) of leprosy was officially announced in 2000, the fact is a quarter of a million new cases are reported worldwide each year. Although distributed in more than 100 countries, nearly 3 out of every 5 cases are found in India, where the disease was declared eliminated as a public health problem in 2005. Leprosy remains a very real issue in today’s world. Nearly 15 years after the declaration of elimination on a global scale, media headlines are filled with news about the disease, as World Leprosy Day comes up Sunday, Jan. 25. The declarations of elimination have had far-reaching consequences, ranging from decreases in funding for specialized leprosy research, treatment and rehabilitation programs to the swaying of public and political opinion that the disease is no longer an issue. […]

Simple, Elegant Solution Holds Promise for Drug Resistance

January 9th, 2015|Drugs, News, Tuberculosis|

A lot of interest has been generated by a recent paper in Nature. Researchers have identified a new antibiotic that works against a wide range of bacterial species that cause infection, and resistance did not develop in the laboratory. The need for new antibiotics is great; many infections are now resistant to the drugs we have, and there has been a lack of effort in developing new ones. Much has been said about the reasons why, but one reason is because antibiotics don’t make enough money to cover the cost of developing them. However, it remains the case we urgently need new antibiotics for many infections, including the ones we work on at IDRI, like tuberculosis. Antibiotics are compounds produced by one living organism that kill another and in many cases they are produced by bacteria found in the environment, for example in water, soil, etc. In this research, the authors found a completely new antibiotic produced by a soil bacterium. […]

The Legacy and Lessons of Ebola

January 5th, 2015|Ebola, News|

NOTE: The following was published in the Pacific Standard Magazine on Dec. 29, 2014. Contrary to what many in the global health community seem to believe, 2014 will not go down as The Year of Ebola. It will, however, be remembered as the year that the world was faced with responding to an emerging pathogen in a rapid and efficient way. Not that this is the first time, of course, with SARS and bird flu being recent history, but it is a particularly memorable one nonetheless. We know that a devastating disease will have varying degrees of impact on health systems, which cannot be predicted or fully anticipated. But this deadly disease, which quickly jumped country and continent borders, highlighted both how unprepared we are technologically and the fragility of many health systems. To be fair, to decry the fact that we are unprepared for a multi-continent outbreak of Ebola would have been greeted with a chuckle just a year ago—but now the question is: Which highly infectious disease is next? But today, as we look toward 2015, it’s clear just how real, and just how deadly, threats like Ebola actually can be—it’s also clear that being prepared, and then moving fast, is critical when it comes to saving lives. This will require developing available technologies and a strengthening of health systems, both of which are needed to ensure the capabilities for the rapid response to emerging, deadly pathogens. […]

The Legacy and Lessons of Ebola

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