There is a new plan to combat the growing threat of Zika virus with genetically modified mosquitoes; the F.D.A. has given preliminary approval to conduct a trial just north of Key West on Saturday. Experts claimed that these insects are unlikely to harm humans, animals or the environment. “The consequences of escape, survival, and establishment of…
- Carbohydrates on the surface of malaria parasites play an important role in their ability to infect mosquito Andy human hosts
- The new research is aimed at improving malaria vaccine design
- It’s hoped that a version of RTS, S with added carbohydrates will perform better than the current vaccine
New Delhi, September 18, 2017: Offering vital clues to improving malaria vaccine, an international research team has shown that carbohydrates on the surface of malaria parasites play a critical role in their ability to infect mosquito and human hosts.
The discovery, published in the journal Nature Communications, also suggests steps that may improve the only malaria vaccine approved to protect people against Plasmodium falciparum malaria — the most deadly form of the disease.
The team had shown that the malaria parasite “tags” its proteins with carbohydrates in order to stabilise and transport them and that this process was crucial to completing the parasite’s life cycle.
“Interfering with the parasite’s ability to attach these carbohydrates to its proteins hinders liver infection and transmission to the mosquito and weakens the parasite to the point that it cannot survive in the host,” said Justin Boddey from Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Parkville, Victoria, Australia.
Malaria infects over 200 million people worldwide each year and kills around 650,000 people, predominantly pregnant women and children. Efforts to eradicate malaria require the development of new therapeutics, particularly an effective malaria vaccine.
The first malaria vaccine approved for human use — RTS,S/AS01 — got the nod of the European regulators in July 2015 but has not been as successful as hoped with marginal efficacy that wanes over time.
The new research is aimed at improving malaria vaccine design.
“The protein used in the RTS, S vaccine mimics one of the proteins we’ve been studying on the surface of the malaria parasite that is readily recognised by the immune system,” Ethan Goddard-Borger from Walter and Eliza Hall Institute said.
“With this study, we’ve shown that the parasite protein is tagged with carbohydrates, making it slightly different to the vaccine, so the antibodies produced may not be optimal for recognising target parasites.”
“It may be that a version of RTS, S with added carbohydrates will perform better than the current vaccine,” he said, adding that there were many documented cases where attaching carbohydrates to a protein improved its efficacy as a vaccine. (IANS)
- Scientists have developed a nanotechnology based test that can quickly detect the presence of the Zika virus in the blood
- The new test relies on a protein made by the Zika virus
- The test is very quick as the results would be declared before the patient even leaves the clinic
New Delhi, August 13, 2017: Scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have developed a nanotechnology-based test that can quickly detect the presence of the Zika virus in the blood, an advance that may also be applicable to other emerging infectious diseases.
Currently, testing for Zika requires that a blood sample be refrigerated and shipped to a medical centre or laboratory, delaying diagnosis and possible treatment for Zika virus.
The new test, however, relies on a protein made by the Zika virus that causes an immune response in infected individuals, which is then attached to tiny gold nanorods mounted on a piece of paper.
The paper then is completely covered with tiny, protective nanocrystals. The nanocrystals allow the diagnostic nanorods to be shipped and stored without refrigeration prior to use, the researchers said.
“If an assay requires electricity and refrigeration, it defeats the purpose of developing something to use in a resource-limited setting, especially in tropical areas of the world,” said Srikanth Singamaneni, Associate Professor at the Washington University in St. Louis.
“We wanted to make the test immune from variations in temperature and humidity,” Singamaneni added.
When a drop of the patient’s blood is applied on the paper mounted on the nanorods, the immunoglobulins in the blood will react with the protein if the patient has come into contact with the virus and demonstrate a colour change.
“The immunoglobulins persist in the blood for a few months, and when they come into contact with the gold nanorods, the nanorods undergo a slight colour change that can be detected with a hand-held spectrophotometer,” explained Jeremiah J. Morrissey, Professor at the varsity.
“With this test, results will be clear before the patient leaves the clinic, allowing immediate counselling and access to treatment,” he added in the paper detailed in the journal Advanced Biosystems.
As other infectious diseases emerge around the world, similar strategies potentially could be used to develop tests to detect the presence of viruses that may become problematic, the researchers said. (IANS)
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture “fervently” wanted to use the term “soy milk” in educational materials for the public
- That irked the Food and Drug Administration, the agency that oversees the rule defining milk as coming from healthy cows
- The sour history over who gets to use “milk” reaches back to at least 1997, when a soy foods group petitioned the FDA to recognize the term “soymilk”
New York, July 4, 2017: Dairy farmers want U.S. regulators to banish the term “soy milk,” but documents show even government agencies haven’t always agreed on what to call such drinks.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture “fervently” wanted to use the term “soy milk” in educational materials for the public, according to emails recently released in response to a lawsuit. That irked the Food and Drug Administration, the agency that oversees the rule defining milk as coming from healthy cows.
It’s “not a trivial decision,” the FDA warned in one of the 2011 emails about the USDA’s desire to use the term.
The sour history over who gets to use “milk” reaches back to at least 1997, when a soy foods group petitioned the FDA to recognize the term “soymilk”. A couple of years later, the group pointed out that the FDA itself had used the term. Even now, the National Milk Producers Federation says it’s working to build support for legislation directing the FDA to enforce the federal standard. The dairy group says both “soy milk” and “soymilk” are inappropriate ways to describe non-dairy drinks made from soybeans, and that the one-word version is just an attempt to get around the definition.
There are plenty of other food names at issue. A European Union court recently ruled that a company named TofuTown can’t describe its products as “cheese.” U.S. rice producers have railed against “pretenders ” like diced cauliflower and said they may take the issue to the FDA.
But the FDA hasn’t even always been able to get other agencies to go along, as illustrated in the emails obtained by the Good Food Institute, which advocates alternatives to industrial animal agriculture. The GFI sued the FDA for public records relating to soy milk.
The email exchange started when a nutrition adviser at the Department of Health and Human Services alerted the FDA that the USDA planned to use “soy milk” in educational materials about dietary guidelines.
“USDA staff are preparing consumer publications and fervently want to use the term ‘soy milk’ because beverages are widely marketed this way,” the adviser wrote.
The FDA bristled and provided the federal definition of milk as a “lacteal secretion” from cows. Therefore, the FDA declared that referring to soy, almond and rice drinks as “milk” would be incorrect. It suggested the other agency say “beverage” or “fortified beverage.”
When that didn’t put the matter to rest, the FDA warned that the USDA’s use of the term could undermine the FDA’s regulatory authority.
That apparently didn’t stop the USDA, either.
“They are adamant about using the term in consumer publications,” the nutrition adviser wrote. The USDA had indicated that it would use “soy beverage” in official policy documents, but it wanted to use “plain language” in materials for the public.
Despite the federal regulation, others may also consider “soy milk” an acceptable term. The Merriam-Webster dictionary doesn’t limit milk’s definition to cows, saying it is “a fluid secreted by the mammary glands of females for the nourishment of their young.”
It also allows for a “food product produced from seeds or fruit that resembles and is used similarly to cow’s milk.”
Asked how the spat was resolved, the USDA provided materials from 2011 that use both terms by referring to “soymilk (soy beverage).” The agency also uses the term elsewhere, including on its “Choose My Plate” website, which currently says “calcium-fortified soymilk (soy beverage)” is part of the dairy group.
The National Milk Producers Federation says the USDA’s usage of the term shows even other government agencies are confused about how to describe soy beverages in the absence of consistent enforcement by the FDA.
The FDA declined to comment. (VOA)