Saturday January 20, 2018

Human Antibodies: Scientists Discover a possible Cure for all 5 known Ebola Viruses

Ebola got its name from the first documented outbreak, which occurred along the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire, in 1976

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A health worker takes the temperature of people to see whether they might be infected by the Ebola virus inside the Ignace Deen government hospital in Conakry, Guinea, March 18, 2016. VOA
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New York, May 21, 2017: Scientists have discovered a possible cure for all five known Ebola viruses, one of which ravaged West Africa in recent years.

The so-called broadly neutralizing antibodies were discovered in the blood of a survivor of the West African epidemic, which ran from late 2013 to mid-2016. The deadly virus killed more than 11,000 people of the nearly 29,000 who became infected in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Ebola got its name from the first documented outbreak, which occurred along the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire, in 1976. Since then, there have been two dozen outbreaks of Ebola in Africa, including a current one that has infected nine people in the DRC. Three people have died.

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Kartik Chandran, a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York, helped identify the antibodies, which were described online in the journal Cell. He is optimistic that the antibodies can be used as a single therapy to treat all Ebola viruses.

“Based on the nonhuman primate studies that are ongoing, and given the fact that they are pretty predictive, I would be optimistic that they could be used to protect people and reverse disease,” Chandran said.

350 antibodies isolated

Researchers isolated about 350 antibodies from the human blood sample, two of which showed promise in neutralizing three viruses in tissue culture. The antibodies work by interfering with a process that the pathogen uses to infect and multiply inside cells.

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The drug company Mapp Pharmaceutical Inc. is now testing the antibodies in monkeys to make sure they are safe and effective.

A forerunner of the experimental drug, called Zmapp, was in the experimental stages when it was pressed into service during the last epidemic. Zmapp is a combination of cloned antibodies discovered in mice that enlist the body’s natural immune system to fight infection. If given up to five days after symptoms appear, it can cure the disease.

The problem, Chandran said, is Zmapp is not terribly specific and works to neutralize only Ebola Zaire, one of the five known viruses. He said the broadly neutralizing human antibodies attack and destroy all of the viruses.

It took scientists just six months to discover the antibodies, according to Chandran, “so this is really incredibly fast and incredibly gratifying. And we are hoping that things will continue at this pace and that in very short order we will be in a position to be able to test these things in people.”

While the broadly neutralizing antibodies are being developed as a treatment, Chandran envisions using them in a vaccine that can be given ahead of an Ebola outbreak to guard against infection. (VOA)

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Akayed Ullah, the Bangladeshi suspect in New York bombing described as cocky and weird

Recently a bombing had occurred in the Time Square of New York city and a Bangladeshi has been suspected in the bombing who lived in New York for 7 years.

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Law enforcement officials in New York City work after a bomb blast near Times Square, Dec. 11, 2017
Law enforcement officials work following an explosion near New York's Times Square on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, in New York. Police said a man with a pipe bomb strapped to him set off the crude device in an underground passageway under 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
  • The bomb blast occurred on December 11, 2017 in New York
  • Akayed Ullah, a Bangladeshi has been suspected the cause for the bomb blast
  • The suspect has been described as cocky and weird

New York, December 12, 2017: Neighbors described a Bangladeshi man suspected of setting off a bomb Monday near New York’s Times Square as “cocky” and “weird,” but were surprised to hear he was involved in what local authorities called an “attempted terrorist attack.”

The suspect and three other people were injured in the explosion during the morning rush-hour in an underground subway passage about 200 feet from a busy bus terminal in Manhattan, officials said.

Authorities arrested Akayed Ullah, a 27-year-old Brooklyn resident, after he allegedly detonated an improvised explosive device that was strapped to his body, New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill said.

The explosion left Ullah “with burns and wounds to his body” and injured three others, officials said.

“He wasn’t very nice. He was kind of cocky,” Ullah’s longtime neighbor, Alan Butrico, told BenarNews. “He was often blocking my driveway.”

Butrico, owner of a locksmith and hardware in Brooklyn’s Flatlands neighborhood, said he was Ullah’s next-door neighbor for about seven years.

“I would ask him to move the car whenever he was blocking my driveway and he would react like he was giving me a favor,” Butrico said.

But Butrico, who lived in the neighborhood for 27 years, said he was surprised to hear that Ullah, whom he described as a former cab driver and electrician, was involved in a terrorist attack.

“I’m glad he didn’t blow up my store,” Butrico said. “I’m glad he went to Manhattan.”

The bomb exploded at around 7:20 a.m. (local time) in a subway corridor on 42nd Street, between 7th and 8thavenues, police said.

“This device was intentionally detonated by the subject,” O’Neill, the police commissioners, said in a statement posted on the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) Twitter page.

Three people in the immediate area suffered minor injuries and the suspect, who suffered severe burns, was placed in custody and transported to a hospital, O’Neill said. Fire officials said Ullah had burns to his hands and abdomen.

A photo published by the New York Post showed a bearded man crumpled on the ground with his shirt apparently blown off and black soot covering his bare midriff.

“Let’s be also clear this was an attempted terrorist attack. Thank God the perpetrator did not achieve his ultimate goals,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters. “The only injuries we know at this point were minor.”

Kat Mara, who works at a real-estate company near Ullah’s home, said the Bangladeshi suspect was “very aloof.”

“He’s like a loner, like there’s always something in his mind,” Mara, 63, told BenarNews, saying that she often saw Ullah at a bagel store across the street from her office.

“He’s very aloof,” she said. “I would say hello and he wouldn’t say anything. He just seemed a little weird.”

No criminal record in Bangladesh

In Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, Police Inspector-General A.K.M. Shahidul Hoque said Ullah had no criminal record in Bangladesh and that he last visited his home country on Sept. 8.

Hoque told the Reuters news service that the information was based on Ullah’s passport number, and said the suspect was from the southern Bangladeshi district of Chittagong.

New York daily newspapers, quoting unnamed law-enforcement sources, said Ullah arrived in the United States from Bangladesh on Sept. 21, 2011 on an F-4 Visa, which is for siblings of American citizens. He is currently a permanent resident, according to officials.

Shamim Ahmad, a spokesman at Bangladesh’s embassy in Washington, did not confirm to BenarNews during a phone interview that Ullah was a Bangladeshi.

Consular officials in New York were awaiting an official report from the NYPD, Ahmad said.

He later on issued a statement saying that the Bangladesh government “is committed to its declared policy of ‘zero tolerance’ against terrorism, and condemns terrorism and violent extremism in all forms or manifestations anywhere in the world, including Monday morning’s incident in New York City.”

“A terrorist is a terrorist irrespective of his or her ethnicity or religion, and must be brought to justice,” the statement said.

Ullah lived with his father, mother and brother and worked as a driver in New York for a few years until his license lapsed in 2015, officials said. Neighbors said he lived with his family on the first floor of a two-story home.

New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill holds a news conference outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan with Mayor Bill de Blasio (left) and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, after a pipe-bomb strapped to a man exploded in a crowded subway corridor near Times Square, Dec. 11, 2017. [AP]
New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill holds a news conference outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan with Mayor Bill de Blasio (left) and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, after a pipe-bomb strapped to a man exploded in a crowded subway corridor near Times Square, Dec. 11, 2017. [AP]
Six weeks, two terrorist incidents

Monday’s bombing occurred nearly six weeks after a deadly terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan.

A man killed eight people and injured a dozen others as he drove a pickup truck down a bicycle path near the World Trade Center on Oct. 31. An officer shot and wounded the suspect.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the suspect, identified as a 29-year-old Uzbek, Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, was indicted last month on murder and terror-related charges.

John Miller, the New York Police Department’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, said authorities had thwarted 26 terrorist plots in New York since Sept. 11, 2001.

“We have prevented a significant number of plots,” Miller told reporters Monday.

“Your intel operations are looking for indicators,” he said. “They don’t have an X-ray for a man’s soul.”

The blast on Monday also happened two months after U.S. authorities accused a 37-year-old Filipino doctor of providing funds to support a foiled plot last year to carry out bombings and shootings in crowded areas in New York City, including the subway system and in Times Square.

Russell Salic, a surgeon, was arrested in April 2017 in the Philippines and is awaiting extradition to the United States. Authorities said those thwarted attacks were to be carried out by the suspects under the name of the extremist group Islamic State during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan last year.

Akayed Ullah
Akayed Ullah [Reuters]
Kazi Nishat Tarana, a Bangladeshi living in New York, told BenarNews she was shocked to hear reports that the suspect in Monday’s explosion could be a Bangladeshi.

“I want to say very clearly, he doesn’t represent Bangladesh,” she said. “The people of our country is peace loving and this man no way is influenced by our great tradition of peace and harmony. We are deeply upset. I hope no Bangladeshi student or immigrant will be judged differently after this incident.”

In Dhaka, Sohaili Ferdous, an assistant inspector general of police, said the department would investigate any possible ties between the latest New York attack and Bangladesh.

“Right now, we cannot give information about him. We have to check with our database whether he had any militant or criminal background,” Ferdous told BenarNews.

Kamran Reza Chowdhury in Dhaka contributed to this report. (BenarNews)