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Can the blood of Ebola survivors create a cure?

REUTERS       by  Julie Steenhuysen                                                                                 Dec. 22, 2014
CHICAGO --For months, Vanderbilt University researcher Dr. James Crowe has been desperately seeking access to the blood of U.S. Ebola survivors, hoping to extract the proteins that helped them overcome the deadly virus for use in new, potent drugs.

Blood samples from patients suspected of having the Ebola virus disease are prepared for transportation to Freetown for testing, at the Port Loko District Hospital September 27, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Christopher Black/WHO/Handout via Reuters

His efforts finally paid off in mid-November with a donation from Dr. Rick Sacra, a University of Massachusetts physician who contracted Ebola while working in Liberia. The donation puts Crowe at the forefront of a new model for fighting the virus...

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DoD extends review of Ebola quarantine policy

MILITARY TIMES By Andrew Tilghman                                                                                Dec. 19, 2014
Thousands of troops deployed to West Africa to help contain the Ebola virus will have to wait a few more weeks to find out whether the policy of 21-day quarantines after their redeployment will continue, military officials said.

The Pentagon has granted an extension on the deadline for reviewing the controversial rule requiring a 21-day, post-deployment quarantine. The review will now be completed by Jan. 30, 2015.

When Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the quarantine on Oct. 29, he ordered military officials to conduct a review within 45 days to determine whether it was effective and necessary.

That review was due on Dec. 12, but Hagel granted a seven-week extension following a request from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey.

Read complete story.
http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/pentagon/2014/12/19/ebola-quarantine-review/20637663/?utm_source=December+22+2014+EN&utm_campaign=12%2F22%2F2014&utm_medium=email

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The Last Time the Arctic Was Ice-Free in the Summer, Modern Humans Didn’t Exist

A picture of people on ice and snow. Caption reads: Enjoy it while you can. Image: Thomas A. Brown and Simon T. BeltImage: A picture of people on ice and snow. Caption reads: Enjoy it while you can. Image: Thomas A. Brown and Simon T. Belt

slate.com - December 12th, 2014 - Eric Holthaus

Ice has been a relatively constant feature of the Arctic for most of the past 36 million years, but there have been some gaps. Scientists aren’t exactly sure what happened during the most recent major ice-free period, but it’s often considered an analog to our future, warmer Earth. The only difference is, the gap in Arctic sea ice that scientists believe will happen by midcentury is being caused by us.*

(VIEW COMPLETE ARTICLE)

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State Ebola Protocols

CDC                                                                                                                Dec. 19, 2014

 The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest in history, affecting multiple countries in West Africa. Two imported cases, including one death, and two locally acquired cases in healthcare workers have been reported in the US. CDC and partners are taking precautions to prevent the further spread of Ebola within the US

CDC/OSTLTS Public Health Law Program and Office of the Associate Director for Policy compiled an Interim Table of State Ebola Screening and Monitoring Policies for Asymptomatic Individuals[PDF 826KB] to help law and policy makers prepare for and respond to Ebola-related situations.

See complete report.

http://www.cdc.gov/phlp/publications/topic/ebola.html

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GSK Ebola vaccine trial seen moving to wider phase in February

REUTERS                                                                                              Dec. 19, 2014

Trials of GlaxoSmithKline's experimental Ebola vaccine are likely to move to a second phase in February, later than previously suggested, after a meeting of national regulators said they needed more information.

The World Health Organization, which hosted a meeting of national regulatory authorities and ethics committees earlier this week, said they had thoroughly discussed all aspects of the proposed trials at the two-day meeting.

"Reviewing countries requested additional documentation from the manufacturer of the vaccine, GlaxoSmithKline, before authorization of the trials," the WHO said in a statement.

Countries where the trials are planned -- Cameroon, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal -- should receive and review the additional information by the end of January.

"If these steps are completed to the satisfaction of the national authorities, Phase II trials are likely to begin in February," the statement said.

The GSK vaccine is already undergoing Phase I trials, to check its safety in humans, in Switzerland, Britain, Mali and the United States, and is one of the two leading candidate vaccines for Ebola already undergoing tests.

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The Ebola Treatment You Haven't Heard Of

FORBES       by David Kroll                                                                                              Dec. 19, 2014

Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology-derived products have attracted the greatest public and professional interest in treating victims of Ebola virus disease. But a privately-held, small company with a treatment for shock and multi-organ failure may be the dark horse victor in the race to stop the West African outbreak. LB1148 from San Diego-based Leading BioSciences is starting Phase 2 clinical trials that build on 12 years of NIH-funded research to address an underappreciated, common denominator in shock and organ failure, including shock caused by Ebola infection.

Read complete story.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkroll/2014/12/19/the-ebola-treatment-you-havent-heard-of/

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Obama puts money on the table for Ebola vaccine developers

THE CANADIAN PRESS  by Helen Branswell                                                                     Dec. 19, 2014

TORONTO -- Earlier this week, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law a little piece of legislation that may significantly change the economics of making drugs or vaccines to protect against Ebola and other viruses in its deadly family.

And it might at some point provide a tidy windfall for Merck, the company now developing an Ebola vaccine designed at Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.

A World Health Organization scientist unpacks the Canadian-made Ebola vaccine after receiving them in Geneva on Oct. 22, 2014. Swiss researchers temporarily halted a clinical trial of a Canadian-made Ebola vaccine after seeing an unexpected side-effect in a few people who received the serum. (Mathilde Missioneiro/THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - WHO)

The bill -- S.2917, also known as "Adding Ebola to the FDA Priority Review Voucher Program Act" -- dangles a sizable carrot meant to entice pharmaceutical companies into developing vaccines and therapies to prevent or cure infection with the virus and other related pathogens in the filovirus family.

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Screening Test Finds Drugs That Show Promise Against Ebola

U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT HEALTH TODAY   by   Dennis Thompson                            Dec. 17, 2014

A screening test has identified more than 50 drugs that could be helpful in treating people with Ebola, researchers report.

"These drugs are all approved (by the FDA) so they could be deployed quickly if follow-up research proves that they are effective," said study author Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, director of the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

The study was published online Dec. 17 in the journal Emerging Microbes and Infections.

The screening test involves a laboratory-engineered fake Ebola virus. The fake virus contains two proteins from the deadly pathogen, but does not include the infectious genetic material that makes Ebola so dangerous, Garcia-Sastre said.

Read complete story.

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2014/12/17/screening-test-finds-drugs-that-show-promise-against-ebola

Read Emerging Microbes and Infections paper.

http://www.nature.com/emi/journal/v3/n12/full/emi201488a.html

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Here’s How Much the Next Ebola Will Cost Us

Why saving the environment can help prevent it

TIME MAGAZINE     by Alexandra Sifferlin                                                                         Dec. 16, 2014

The global community cannot withstand another Ebola outbreak: The World Bank estimates the two-year financial burden price tag of the current epidemic at $32.6 billion. Unfortunately, the virus has revealed gaping holes in our preparedness for major infectious disease epidemics. Because of these, plus the urbanization of rural communities and globalization of travel and trade, more of these epidemics are expected.

In a new report from the EcoHealth Alliance published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), experts estimate that the world will see about five new emerging infectious diseases each year and that we need new prevention strategies to cut economic losses.

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Health Care Worker Quarantine for Ebola: To Eradicate the Virus or Alleviate Fear?

ANNALS OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE                                                                               Dec. 11, 014
By Kristi Koenig, MD, Center for Disaster Medical Sciences, University of California at Irvine

Despite our global experience with emerging infectious diseases, politicians empowered with making health policy decisions and even some scientists have created confusion, fear, and stigmatization of health care workers by inconsistent use of quarantine....

Instead of trying to allay public fears by misapplication of quarantine, we should instead educate according to rigorous science and apply evidence-based policies and procedures. Modern technologies exist for robust public health monitoring that can replace an antiquated system of quarantine for exposed persons who have no potential to transmit disease before symptom onset. Health care workers who have cared for Ebola patients and are asymptomatic should not be restricted from work or other activities as long as they can be effectively monitored for symptoms and then isolated and tested if those develop. Politicians must heed their scientific advisors and not be swayed by misinformed public fear. In addition, we should seek out and apply these simple modern technologic solutions that maximize public health and safety.

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