Studies of US Lassa fever patient offer clues about immune response, viral persistence

Studies of US Lassa fever patient offer clues about immune response, viral persistence

When an American nurse working in West Africa became ill with Lassa fever and was evacuated to the U.S. for treatment in 2016, it provided a rare opportunity. With the consent of the patient, researchers were able to closely study, for the first time, how his immune system responded, including the persistence of Lassa virus in his semen after his recovery. An experimental drug was also used as part of his treatment.

A new report, published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases (JID), describes the patient’s immune response, at the cellular level, to Lassa virus infection. A related report describing his treatment—and that of another Lassa fever patient treated in Germany, who also survived—appears in Clinical Infectious Diseases (CID). Although findings from individual patients cannot be generalized to a broader population, the reports suggest areas of needed research for a neglected disease.

Discovered in 1969, Lassa fever affects an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 people each year in West Africa, where the infection is endemic and causes approximately 5,000 deaths annually. In mild cases, symptoms can include fever, weakness, and headache. Bleeding, difficulty breathing, vomiting, facial swelling, muscle pain, and shock may develop in severe cases. Last year, the World Health Organization identified Lassa virus as a top-priority emerging pathogen for research and development.

Lassa virus is primarily transmitted to people through exposure to infected rats or their droppings and urine. Contact with an infected person’s body fluids can also spread the virus. Sexual transmission has been reported, but the extent of viral persistence in the semen of male survivors over time is unknown.

After acquiring Lassa fever in Togo, the American nurse was treated in the Serious Communicable Diseases Unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta by a clinical team from Emory with Lassa-specific laboratory assistance from the nearby Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He recovered and was discharged 25 days later. Several semen samples taken from the patient had detectable levels of Lassa virus RNA, including a sample 23 days after his discharge. During his recovery, he also developed inflammation of the epididymis, a coiled tube near the testicles that stores and carries sperm. The German patient, treated at Frankfurt University Hospital, had detectable Lassa RNA in his semen 64 days after he was discharged.

“There’s no capacity to monitor persistence of Lassa in the semen in resource-limited areas,” said Emory University’s Colleen S. Kraft, MD, who authored the CID report. “Much like with Ebola, we want to make sure we educate individuals who have recovered from Lassa to use safe sexual practices for a while.”

Over the course of the American nurse’s illness, researchers tracked his immune response, including the activity and function of virus-specific T-cells (immune cells important for fighting viral infections) in his body. The response was surprisingly robust and correlated closely with several symptoms and signs that developed late in his illness, even after Lassa virus could no longer be detected in his blood. This suggests that aspects of his own immune system may have actually caused some harm, said Anita K. McElroy, MD, PhD, author of the JID study, who is affiliated with CDC and Emory.
Future studies could lead to the development of therapies for Lassa fever that dampen certain harmful aspects of the body’s immune response, complementing antiviral drugs that target the virus itself. “First and foremost, we need to do this same type of research in more patients,” Dr. McElroy said. “You’ve got to know what’s wrong in the immune response before you can attempt to fix it.”

The U.S. and German patients’ treatment included oral favipiravir, an antiviral drug licensed to treat influenza in Japan that has also been studied as a possible treatment for Ebola. Both patients appeared to experience few serious side effects from the drug, but clinical trials are needed to determine if the drug is effective against Lassa fever, Dr. Kraft said. The patients were also treated with another antiviral, intravenous ribavirin, which is the current standard of care for Lassa patients. Ribavirin’s availability as an intravenous drug, however, is limited in West Africa, where the disease is most common.

In a related editorial commentary in JID, William A. Fischer II, MD, and David A. Wohl, MD, both of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, noted that Lassa fever remains underdiagnosed and understudied despite being a major cause of disease in West Africa. In commenting on the JID report, they wrote, “After a tragically prolonged pause in Lassa fever research, the work reported by these investigators is an important step in moving the science of this neglected virus into the 21st century.”

IVF pioneer wins 2017 African Child Prize Award for discovery

IVF pioneer wins 2017 African Child Prize Award for discovery

A foremost fertility expert and joint pioneer of In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), Test Tube Baby Technology or Assisted Reproductive Technique (ART) in Nigeria, Prof. Oladapo Ashiru has won the African child prize award for Discovery in Science and Innovation was given to Prof Oladapo Ashiru (OFR).

The African Child Foundation (ACF) organized the Award held on June 16, 2017 at the Oriental Hotel in Lagos. ACF is a growing community of young African leaders passionate about humanitarian services.

Ashiru was chosen for the Award after a rigorous search choose to identify with his accomplishments at setting a new agenda for Africa, with his pioneering spirit in the field of health care, coupled with the fact that he was appointed the youngest professor in the field of Medicine in Africa at the age of 32. He has over 40 years experience in the treatment of Infertility and reproductive endocrinology, with several pioneering breakthroughs in medical science including first test tube baby research, first sickle cell free baby pre-implantation genetic testing. He has also pioneered the use of Modern Mayr Medicine therapy in Africa

Ashiru is also the Group Medical Director and Chief executive officer of Mart Group. Ashiru thanked the African Child Foundation for the honor and dedicated the award to all the staff in Mart Group for their professionalism, care and dedication in the discharge of their respective duties every day. He said the Mart Group with the help of God Almighty would endeavor to continue to put smiles on the faces of everyone that comes to us with a challenge and maintain utmost perfection and continue to be part of the world’s cutting edge development in this area of medicine.

Medical device industry introduces new ethics code

Medical device industry introduces new ethics code

The new Medical Device Code of Ethical Marketing and Business Practice allows for self-regulation by the industry, and seeks to ensure that members, and medical devices companies in general, do not offer inducements to healthcare providers or other customers in order to sell, lease, recommend or arrange for the sale or lease of their products.

The development is in recognition of the unique features of the medical device industry. It is characterised by rapid technological advancement and frequent introduction of new products and product lines. Continual innovation requires that healthcare professionals be properly trained in order to use medical devices safely and appropriately, and companies provide demonstration, training and practice sessions on an ongoing basis.

“There is close scrutiny over the healthcare industry in South Africa and globally. The code is an instrument for reconciling professional and business cultures within the medical device and healthcare industries, said Rob Millar, chair of the South African Medical Device Industry Association (Samed) code committee said. The association is the custodian of the code.

“Our industry has a social and moral responsibility not only to customers, but to patients and society at large. Samed members need to have close working relationships with healthcare professionals to provide optimal value to patients and customers. The code directs how this should be done responsibly and by avoiding potentially perverse practices.”

The code is formulated as a user-friendly reference to facilitate voluntary compliance – which is a condition of Samed membership. It is Samed’s hope that in the future, the code may be recognised by the minister of health as an industry-wide code that encompasses all medical device companies.

Some of the provisions of the code are:
Sponsorship of healthcare professionals at conferences organised by third parties will be prohibited from 1 January 2018 – aligning South Africa to European and other jurisdictions;
.Hosting of product and procedure training, or other company events for professional and marketing purposes, needs to have a suitable programme and be held in venues of reasonable hospitality; and
All gifts from suppliers to healthcare providers or organisations are considered inappropriate, while specific regulations guide the provision of items for promotional or medical purposes.

A code with teeth

“The code also has teeth in the form of complaint-lodging procedures with a provision for independent investigation of alleged transgressions,” explains Millar. “It views suspected infringements through the lens of individuals with a sound knowledge of the industry, while introducing experts with an understanding of legal principles and investigational methods.”

The range of sanctions is set out in a schedule which forms part of the code. Sanctions include options of restitution, monetary fines and publication of confirmed infringements together with the name of the company or individual transgressing the code.

The code applies directly to Samed member companies, and their agents and contractors.

Applies to healthcare practitioners

Millar says that the code also applies to healthcare practitioners and organisations in the public and private health sectors in their role as customers of medical device companies – although their conduct is subject to the provisions of other professional codes or legislation. All healthcare providers who make medical product-related decisions, whether clinical or non-clinical staff including procurement officers and supply chain managers, need to be familiar with the code, and avoid infringements or report occasions when it has been transgressed.

In formulating the Code, Samed has aimed to align it with international best practice regarding value-based procurement, as well as with the relevant South African legislation and ethical codes.

Nigeria: NAF Provides Free Medical Services to 400, 000 IDPs

Nigeria: NAF Provides Free Medical Services to 400, 000 IDPs

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) said it has provided free healthcare services to over 400,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North-eastern States.

According to NAF the 400,000 victims of the Boko Haram terrorists were reached through its medical outreach programmes that began since 2015.

To this end, NAF, through its Medical Services Branch, recently organized a medical outreach programme for IDPs at the Mainok, Benishek and Jakana Camps in Borno State.

The programme, which held from 1 – 3 June 2017, according to the force, is one of the series of medical outreaches scheduled to hold at various IDP camps in the State during the Ramadan period.

“The outreach addressed various medical challenges confronting the IDPs in the 3 selected camps. In particular, the NAF medical team conducted eye tests and other tests to monitor vital signs of the IDPs at no cost to them. Subsequently, medicated eye glasses as well as preventive and curative drugs were given to the IDPs as necessary, all free of any costs.

Speaking during an interview, the Director of Humanitarian Services at Headquarters of the NAF, Air Commodore Harold Onyechi said the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubakar is always interested in providing free medical care as part of its contributions to the welfare of IDPs all over the country. Furthermore, he expressed satisfaction in the huge turnout, which was an indication of the people’s appreciation of the gesture from the NAF. He also believed it was an acknowledgement of the value that the NAF was adding in providing the much needed medical succour to IDPs in the camps,” a statement signed by the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore OLATOKUNBO ADESANYA said.

The statement stated that a total of 3,075 IDPs from Benishek, Mainok and Jakana IDP Camps in Borno State benefited from the 3-day exercise making a total of over 400,000 to have benefited from the NAF medical outreach.

“The NAF has so far provided free healthcare to over 400,000 IDPs through its medical outreach programmes since inception in 2015,” the statement added.

It would be recalled that the NAF is also currently operating 2 emergency hospitals at Dalori and Bama IDP camps.

Pfizer and Takeda join BIO Ventures to tackle Africa cancer crisis

Pfizer and Takeda join BIO Ventures to tackle Africa cancer crisis

Pfizer and Takeda have joined together with non-profit BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) and the African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer to launch the African Access Initiative (AAI).

Launched yesterday, June 21, at the 2017 BIO International Convention, the initiative will work to tackle Africa’s emerging cancer crisis by expanding access to oncology medicines and improving cancer care in Africa.

According to a statement from the initiative, cancer kills 60% more people in Africa than malaria, and the number of cancer deaths is expected to increase by almost 70% by 2030.

Four African countries—Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Kenya and Nigeria—have been selected for the first phase of the initiative.

Freda Lewis-Hall, executive vice president and chief medical officer of Pfizer, said: “At Pfizer, we strive to provide access to safe, effective, and affordable medicines worldwide, and the need is particularly urgent in oncology given the rising burden of cancer.”

Lewis-Hall added that Pfizer realises that “no single entity can accomplish this ambitious goal, so we are excited to partner with BVGH, African governmental and healthcare leaders, and leading cancer researchers on AAI”.

Christophe Weber, president and CEO of Takeda, added: “In line with Takeda’s values, our access to medicines strategy will expand on our existing commitments to enhance global health, so that our innovative and potentially life-saving medicines can be more accessible and affordable to patients in regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa.”

The 2017 BIO International Convention is taking place in San Diego from June 19 to 22.

Researchers discover unknown enzyme in pathogens responsible for African sleeping sickness

Researchers discover unknown enzyme in pathogens responsible for African sleeping sickness

The life-threatening African trypanosomiasis, also called sleeping sickness, is caused by protozoa of the species Trypanosoma brucei. A team at the Biocentre of the Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg in Bavaria, Germany, studies the pathogens and has now reported exciting news: The trypanosomes have a so far unknown enzyme which does not exist in humans and other vertebrates. This makes it a promising target for therapy.

Dr. Susanne Kramer and her team published the new findings in the journal PLOS Pathogens. “The enzyme is called TbALPH1,” the researcher details. “It triggers the degradation of messenger RNA and is totally different from the enzymes responsible for this process in higher organisms.”

The JMU researcher counts the Trypanosoma enzyme among the class of ApaH-like phosphatases which are of bacterial origin. Although this class of enzymes does not exist in vertebrates, it is found in other groups of animals. “We don’t know yet which function the enzymes have there. So we want to study next whether ApaH-like phosphatases from other organisms are equally involved in degrading the messenger RNA,” Kramer says.

Facts about sleeping sickness

Trypanosomes are wide-spread in sub-Saharan Africa. The worm-like parasites are transmitted by the bite of an infected tsetse fly. Each year, there are 30,000 new infections. Initial symptoms include headaches and joint pains followed by confusion, seizures and other symptoms in later stages. Finally, the sufferers fall into coma and die.

There are no vaccines available against the pathogens; the available drugs can have extreme side effects. So there is urgent demand for better medication to treat the disease. Trypanosomes not only infect humans. They also kill cattle, goats and other livestock thereby causing additional damage: In some regions of Africa, breeding livestock is hardly possible due to the trypanosomes.

Johns Hopkins grad from Nigeria wants to help hospitals in West Africa go digital

Johns Hopkins grad from Nigeria wants to help hospitals in West Africa go digital

Though paper-based health care is a thing of the past for many hospitals and clinics around the world, in West Africa it’s still the dominant standard.

Adegoke Olubusi wants to change that.

The tech entrepreneur, a recent graduate of the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering, started OneMedical to help hospitals in West Africa go digital. His team has already begun that process in Nigeria, partnering with more than a dozen hospitals.

Now OneMedical is looking at big opportunity for new funding: the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge. The team is one of 15 finalists in the digital innovation challenge, which includes a $10,000 People’s Choice Award open for votes through June 28.

Olubusi, who was born and raised in Nigeria before moving to Maryland for school about a decade ago, has visited his home country often in recent years to work on tech projects like KingsChat, a leading social media platform in Africa.

When his work brought him to hospitals, Olubusi says he found “chaos” in their record-keeping, complicating everything from patient data and billing to inventory. “It’s all on paper—it’s messy, inefficient, and there’s no way to analyze the data,” he says.

But in launching a startup to address these problems, he and his team knew they couldn’t simply transplant U.S. standards into hospitals that had never used electronic records before.

“We thought, ‘How can we make something simple and easy to adopt for hospitals to operate more efficiently?'” says Olubusi, who has also previously worked as an analyst for eBay, PayPal, and Goldman Sachs.

So he and his team—including rising Johns Hopkins junior Sami Ayele—sat down with health care workers in Nigeria to develop prototypes.

“Eventually that turned into an actual idea for a business, and a concept that a lot of people loved,” Olubusi says.

OneMedical offers a user-friendly platform to help hospitals simplify records and streamline processes, with the goal of improving both quality of care and profit margins. It includes a searchable database of patient records, along with features for tracking finances, staff, and medical supplies. The system runs offline at hospitals and syncs to the cloud when there’s an Internet connection available, and it’s accessible through any smart device or operating system.

Hospitals partnering with OneMedical in this early stage are seeing results such as shorter patient wait times and decreased workload for medical staff, the team says. Meanwhile, a waitlist is growing, with more than 25 facilities in Nigeria hoping to get on board.

OneMedical aspires to reach 125 facilities within the next year, ultimately fanning out to other parts of West Africa. The startup is currently part of the Y Combinator accelerator program and last year won Etisalat’s Innovation Award.

Now, with the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge, the team is vying for a shot at a $100,000 grand prize, among other possibilities. OneMedical stood out from the more than 1,000 startups applying to land in the finals of the global competition, which seeks digital solutions to tackle economic, social, and environmental challenges.

OneMedical’s entry for Cisco’s $10,000 People’s Choice award includes a video pitch from Olubusi and partner Nick Moore. Votes from the public can be cast online through June 28, and Cisco will announce the winners from all categories on June 29.

Europe, Middle East and Africa orthopedic medical market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.2% during forecasted period 2017-2023

Europe, Middle East and Africa orthopedic medical market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.2% during forecasted period 2017-2023

Biomaterial is acquiring a huge demand for the treatment of different diseases and condition. They have got a special attention in the orthopedic segment. Many different type of implant are prepare by using biomedical. Increasing aging population is the major driver for the growth of orthopedic market in Europe Middle East and Africa. As this material did not cause any immunological reaction with the body, this makes it as a first choice of preference for manufacturing of the implants. Due to lack of exercise the many different bones and muscle related complication are occurred. This led to increase in the market of orthopedic biomedical in Europe and Middle East and Africa.
Europe, Middle East and Africa orthopedic medical market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.2% during forecasted period 2017-2023.

Segments:
Orthopedic Biomaterials Market is segmented on the basis of, by type of material which is Metals and Non-metals. Metals are further sub segmented into stainless steel, Titanium Alloy, Cobalt alloy and others. Non Metal is sub segmented into Ceramic (Alumina, Calcium Phosphate, Zirconium dioxide. Carbon and Other), Polymeric (Polymethylmethacrylate, Polyethylene, Silicone, Polyester and Other), Natural Biomaterials (Collagen, Chitin & Chitosan and Other) and Others.
On the Basis of application the market is segmented into Joint Replacement, fracture Fixation Devices, Tissue Fixation, Spine implants, Viscosupplementation and Other. Joint replacement is sub segmented into Hip replacement, Knee replacement, Shoulder and elbow replacement and other. Tissue fixation is sub segmented into interference screws, suture anchors and others. Spine implants is further sub segmented into spine fusion, other. Fracture Fixation Devices are sub segmented into Screws, Plates for Bones, Rods and other.

Regional Analysis
Europe and Middle East and Africa are the two major region of the market. Europe has the second largest market for orthopedic biomedical globally. Patient with high level of pain in the bones has no option other than joint replacement which improves the quality of life. Germany and UK are invest ample amount of capital in import of the implants. This can serves as an opportunities for the manufacturer to develop the market in this countries. Due to limited infrastructure development Middle East and Africa has a least orthopedic biomedical market.

The report for Europe, Middle East and Africa Orthopedic Biomaterial Market of Market Research Future comprises of extensive primary research along with the detailed analysis of qualitative as well as quantitative aspects by various industry experts, key opinion leaders to gain the deeper insight of the market and industry performance. The report gives the clear picture of current market scenario which includes historical and projected market size in terms of value and volume, technological advancement, macro economical and governing factors in the market. The report provides details information and strategies of the top key players in the industry. The report also gives a broad study of the different markets segments and regions.

African plant extract could pave way for new drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease

African plant extract could pave way for new drug to treat Alzheimer's disease

A plant extract used for centuries in traditional medicine in Nigeria could form the basis of a new drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease, researchers at The University of Nottingham have found.

Their study, published in the journal Pharmaceutical Biology, has shown that the extract taken from the leaves, stem and roots of Carpolobia lutea, could help to protect chemical messengers in the brain which play a vital role in functions including memory and learning.

The tree extract could pave the way for new drugs to tackle patient symptoms but without the unwanted side-effects associated with some current treatments.

The study was led by Dr Wayne Carter in the University’s Division of Medical Sciences and Graduate Entry Medicine, based at Royal Derby Hospital. He said: “As a population we are living longer, and the number of people with dementia is growing at an alarming rate. Our findings suggest that traditional medicines will provide new chemicals able to temper Alzheimer’s disease progression.”

Neurodegenerative diseases represent a huge health burden globally, placing pressure on health services and having a negative impact on the lives of patients and their families.

Researchers and drug companies are racing to discover new treatments for these disorders and have begun looking to plant extracts as a potential source of novel drugs.

In patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and myasthenia gravis, the activity of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, is reduced, leading to problems with memory and attention.

Current drugs – called acetylcholinesterase inhibitors – reduce the normal breakdown of acetylcholine. Extensive research is underway to find new versions of these drugs but with additional beneficial properties.

Carpolobia lutea, known more commonly as cattle stick, is a small shrub or tree found native to Central and West Africa. Herbalists in Nigerian tribes use the essence of the root as an aphrodisiac and the treatment of genitourinary infections, gingivitis, and waist pains.

It has also been reported to possess other anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, antimicrobial, antimalarial, and analgesic properties. This could be particularly important in Alzheimer’s disease as there is more evidence emerging that Alzheimer’s patients have inflammation in the brain.

The Nottingham study found that the plant was highly effective in preventing the breakdown of acetylcholine but had other beneficial antioxidant properties in fighting free radicals – unstable atoms that can cause damage to cells and contribute to ageing and disease – damage that may be exacerbated in Alzheimer’s disease.

Zim startup shortlisted for Innovation Prize for Africa

Zim startup shortlisted for Innovation Prize for Africa

On Thursday, 15 June, 2017, the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) announced the top 10 nominees who will be competing for the 2017 Innovation Prize For Africa (IAP). Among the shortlisted people was Gift Gana a Zimbabwean who invented a computer aided diagnostic system (Dr CADx) that aims to help the medical industry understand medical images more accurately.

The IPA is a platform that brings together people across Africa to showcase their innovations in healthcare, engineering, energy and communications sectors. This year, people from countries like Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe stand a chance to win some prizes. The grand prize is US$ 100 000 and the second prize is US$ 25 000. They also have a special prize of US$25 000 for a person who would have created something that has the most social impact. The remaining 7 nominees each receive a voucher of US$5 000. The prizes will be awarded on 18th July 2017 in Accra, Ghana.

Gift’s system aims to solve the problem of patients getting wrong or no treatment because medical images would have been misunderstood. This happens because there are not that many professionally trained people to read medical images (radiologists) on the continent, so most medical images end up being read by general doctors or others who might lack the expertise.

Dr CADx uses a technology that simulates how the human brain works ( deep learning), to recognize patterns that are characteristic of the disease in the images. Once an image is transferred to a computer with the software installed, making a diagnosis is as easy as uploading a photo to Facebook and getting a diagnosis in a few seconds. The current prototype achieves an accuracy of 82% which is an improvement on the 70% average for radiologists.

The system is designed to work with poor internet connectivity opening it up for use in many rural settings in Africa. If developed further, it’s applications could end up being more than just in medical image recognition for disease identification. It is truly an innovative idea that aims to solve problems in the medical sector and I hope that it wins one of the top 3 innovate awards.