Tuesday January 23, 2018

$18 Million Donation to Target Mosquito-borne Diseases like Zika in Colombia and Brazil

The bacteria Wolbachia works by stopping the virus from growing inside the mosquito and thus spreading

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A technician releases Aedes aegypti mosquitoes with the dengue-blocking Wolbachia bacteria at the Tubiacanga neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, Sept. 24, 2014. VOA
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An international coalition of governments and philanthropic organisations has donated $18 million to fight Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses. The money will target the illnesses in Colombia and Brazil with a unique mosquito-control program.

The funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the British government, as well as Britain’s Welcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will be used to scale up the innovative, widely praised program being developed in Australia.

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Use bacteria to fight virus

Over the years, the nonprofit Eliminate Dengue Program, in collaboration with Melbourne’s Monash University, has demonstrated a way to transfer a naturally occurring bacterium in the lab, called Wolbachia, into mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus.

Wolbachia is carried by 60 percent of all insect species worldwide, experts say, but not by Aedes aegypti, the type of mosquito that spreads dengue and can also transmit Zika virus, yellow fever and chikungunya.

Once infected with Wolbachia, the altered Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are unable to transmit dengue. When released into the wild, they mate with local mosquitoes, passing the bacteria to their offspring. Within a few months, the wild mosquitoes are unable to spread dengue to humans.

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Wolbachia works by stopping the virus from growing inside the mosquito and thus spreading.

FILE - Technicians carry containers filled with Aedes aegypti mosquitoes with the dengue-blocking Wolbachia bacteria before they are released at the Tubiacanga neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, Sept. 24, 2014. Similar work has been done in Australia, Vietnam and Indonesia.
FILE – Technicians carry containers filled with Aedes aegypti mosquitoes with the dengue-blocking Wolbachia bacteria before they are released at the Tubiacanga neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, Sept. 24, 2014. Similar work has been done in Australia, Vietnam and Indonesia. VOA

Researchers say the method of mosquito control is self-sustaining, having the potential to fight the life-threatening disease.

Trials to expand

Since 2011, the program has conducted field trials in Australia, Indonesia and Vietnam. The results show that when a high proportion of mosquitoes are infected, transmission of the virus stops. Small-scale field trials began in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2014, and last year in Bello, Colombia.

According to the World Health Organization, dengue infects almost 400 million people a year, mainly in tropical and subtropical countries.

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Severe dengue can cause death, especially in children.

The newly announced donations will rapidly scale up Wolbachia deployments in Latin America, beginning in 2017, to see how well the intervention works on a broader scale and in urban settings, hopefully leading to a significant reduction in Zika, dengue and chikungunya. (VOA)

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Colorectal Cancer Rising Among Younger Adults

Researchers note that rates of colorectal cancer have been falling since the 1980s.

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Colorectal Cancer rising among the young adults. Pixabay
Colorectal Cancer rising among the young adults. Pixabay
  • Latest research says young adults have higher chances of having colorectal cancer
  • Risk is higher in those born in 1990
  • The research also has stats for other kinds of cancer

Americans born in 1990 have double the risk of colon cancer and quadruple the risk of rectal cancer than those born around 1950, a new study suggests.

The study found that colorectal cancer is on the rise among young and middle-aged adults in their early 50s. Rectal cancer is growing particularly fast among people younger than 55, with 30 percent of diagnoses in people under 55.

“Trends in young people are a bellwether for the future disease burden,” said Rebecca Siegel, of the American Cancer Society and lead author of the study that appeared in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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The risk is more for people born in 1990 than those in 1950. Wikimedia commons
The risk is more for people born in 1990 than those in 1950. Wikimedia commons

“Our finding that colorectal cancer risk for millennials has escalated back to the level of those born in the late 1800s is very sobering. Educational campaigns are needed to alert clinicians and the general public about this increase to help reduce delays in diagnosis, which are so prevalent in young people, but also to encourage healthier eating and more active lifestyles to try to reverse this trend.”

Researchers note that rates of colorectal cancer have been falling since the 1980s with an even steeper decline in the past decade, which has been caused by more screening.

But they wanted to find out why some studies have shown a rising rate among people under 50 for whom screening is generally not done. For their study, researchers looked at cases of colorectal cancer in people over 20 from 1974 to 2013. There were 490,305 cases.

Cancer rate declined generally but increased in this particular age group. VOA
Cancer rate declined generally but increased in this particular age group. VOA

The data showed the rates of colon cancer initially decreased after 1974, but then grew by one or two percent from the mid-1980s to 2013 among adults aged 20 to 39. For people aged 40 to 54, the rates increased between .5 percent and one percent from the mid 1990s to 2013.

For rectal cancer, the increases were greater, with rates rising about three percent per year from 1974 to 2013 in adults aged 20 to 29. For adults between 30 and 39, there was a similar rise from 1980 to 2013. For adults between 40 and 54, rates increased by two percent from the 1990s to 2013.

Rates for adults older than 55 has been declining for about 40 years, researchers said.

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Researchers say the results could change the age at which screening for colorectal cancer starts and cite 10,400 cases diagnosed in people in their 40s plus 12,800 cases in people in their early 50s.

“These numbers are similar to the total number of cervical cancers diagnosed, for which we recommend screening for the 95 million women ages 21 to 65 years,” Siegel said. VOA