Advancements to Monitor, Combat and Prevent Pathogen Outbreaks

In recent years, a major epidemic viral outbreak has occurred annually, whether it was Zika, Ebola, or the Corona virus MERS-CoV. The ever-increasing human population, global travel on a scale never seen before and a closer proximity of humans to wild life habitats are all vital contributors to this observed trend, the impact of which is increasing exponentially.

This is alarming. Today, groundbreaking activities are aimed at combating these outbreaks:

  • New emerging technologies
    • Rapid pathogen identification
    • Increased availability of accurate infectious disease monitoring
  • Early detection (critical)
  • Development of better vaccines due to sequencing of higher numbers of pathogens and their populations
    • Vaccines against a family of pathogens and their core proteins
  • Examining the importance of the microbiome and its impact on human health and how it can help treat or prevent infections and other disease.
    • E.g. The Indian gut is different from a Western gut which translates into differences in pathogen tolerance among the two populations

At the same time, there are still many unknowns and questions we are facing:

  • What’s next in terms of an outbreak?
  • Where do specific pathogens originate from?
  • How can we quickly diagnose them?
  • How can we prevent outbreaks from happening?
  • Why do certain cultures and populations respond differently to pathogens?

Among the many sessions at the upcoming PMWC 2017 Duke conference are two that specifically address these issues:

Novel Approaches to Infectious Disease Diagnosis and Therapeutic Development
Chaired by Dr. Chris Wood (Duke University)
This session will focus on the development of novel diagnostic approaches to infectious disease, including the promises, challenges and pitfalls, and the regulatory / reimbursement issues associated with these developing tests. Furthermore, the importance of the human microbiome and its significance for targeted antibiotics development will be covered. Dr. Margaret Riley’s (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) talk: Targeted Antibacterials Are Attractive Candidates for Therapeutic Development” will be included in the session.

The Role of the Human Microbiome
Chaired by Dr. Lawrence David (Duke University)
As our understanding of the human microbiome increases, we begin to see the human organism as more than its own single entity: modern research is showing that our microbiota has a major impact on our health and lifestyle. This session will explore the various developments of our understanding of the human microbiome, and what expectations exist for the future of microbiome-related science.

The conference will also feature several institutions and commercial companies that are active in this space, building solutions that address the technological aspects of confronting pathogen outbreaks and pathogen identification itself, or working on understanding the microbiome.

Advancements to Monitor, Combat and Prevent Pathogen Outbreaks

In recent years, a major epidemic viral outbreak has occurred annually, whether it was Zika, Ebola, or the Corona virus MERS-CoV. The ever-increasing human population, global travel on a scale never seen before and a closer proximity of humans to wild life habitats are all vital contributors to this observed trend, the impact of which is increasing exponentially.

This is alarming. Today, groundbreaking activities are aimed at combating these outbreaks:

  • New emerging technologies
    • Rapid pathogen identification
    • Increased availability of accurate infectious disease monitoring
  • Early detection (critical)
  • Development of better vaccines due to sequencing of higher numbers of pathogens and their populations
    • Vaccines against a family of pathogens and their core proteins
  • Examining the importance of the microbiome and its impact on human health and how it can help treat or prevent infections and other disease.
    • E.g. The Indian gut is different from a Western gut which translates into differences in pathogen tolerance among the two populations

At the same time, there are still many unknowns and questions we are facing:

  • What’s next in terms of an outbreak?
  • Where do specific pathogens originate from?
  • How can we quickly diagnose them?
  • How can we prevent outbreaks from happening?
  • Why do certain cultures and populations respond differently to pathogens?

Among the many sessions at the upcoming PMWC 2017 Duke conference are two that specifically address these issues:

Novel Approaches to Infectious Disease Diagnosis and Therapeutic Development
Chaired by Dr. Chris Wood (Duke University)
This session will focus on the development of novel diagnostic approaches to infectious disease, including the promises, challenges and pitfalls, and the regulatory / reimbursement issues associated with these developing tests. Furthermore, the importance of the human microbiome and its significance for targeted antibiotics development will be covered. Dr. Margaret Riley’s (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) talk: Targeted Antibacterials Are Attractive Candidates for Therapeutic Development” will be included in the session.

The Role of the Human Microbiome
Chaired by Dr. Lawrence David (Duke University)
As our understanding of the human microbiome increases, we begin to see the human organism as more than its own single entity: modern research is showing that our microbiota has a major impact on our health and lifestyle. This session will explore the various developments of our understanding of the human microbiome, and what expectations exist for the future of microbiome-related science.

The conference will also feature several institutions and commercial companies that are active in this space, building solutions that address the technological aspects of confronting pathogen outbreaks and pathogen identification itself, or working on understanding the microbiome.

The Guardian: Global defence system to fight virus threats urgently needed

Fresh on the heels of the recent Ebola epidemic, the current Zika virus threat has many asking what to better prepare for such infectious disease outbreaks. Writing in The Guardian, Trevor Mundel of the Gates Foundation and Jeremy Farrar of the Wellcome Trust have some suggestions:

A healthy body has three essential systems for staying that way. There is physical fitness, building resilience against threats. There is the brain, to spot danger and take action. And there is the immune system, to neutralise infections that breach other defences.

The world needs similar systems to protect against epidemic and pandemic diseases. We need a fit body – a basic infrastructure of public health. We need a nerve centre for preparedness and response – an international organisation to tackle threats. And we need an immune system – vaccines and drugs to prevent and treat disease.

On the need for a better approach the developing vaccines and drugs, they write:

All four [recent UN reports on the Ebola epidemic] agree on the need for public, private and philanthropic sectors to step up investment in R&D for diseases where industry lacks much prospect of a market return. When such research takes place at all, it generally relies on the goodwill of pharmaceutical companies prepared to take a loss – Ebola vaccines are a prime example. That isn’t sustainable, not when we know of dozens of threatening pathogens for which, like Ebola in 2014 and Zika today, we have no vaccine or cure.

Read the full piece, along with their recommendations, here.