The New York Times examines developments in circumcision technology, after “three studies have shown that circumcising adult heterosexual men is one of the most effective ‘vaccines’ against [HIV] — reducing the chances of infection by 60 percent or more.” The newspaper writes, “[P]ublic health experts are struggling to find ways to make the process faster, cheaper, and safer” and “donors are pinning their hopes on several devices now being tested to speed things up.” The New York Times reports on several circumcision methods currently being tested, including PrePex, which received FDA approval three weeks ago and “is clearly faster, less painful and more bloodless than any of its current rivals” (McNeil, 1/30).
The PBS NewsHour blog “The Rundown” features excerpts from interviews with three experts discussing the recent debate over research conducted on the H5N1 bird flu virus. “What began as a question on whether scientific journals should publish the complete research has grown into an argument on whether to conduct these studies, and others like them, at all,” according to the blog, which features quotes from Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers; Vincent Racaniello, a microbiologist at Columbia; and Carl Zimmer, a science journalist and author (Pelcyger, 1/30).
In this post on the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s (GHTC) “Breakthroughs” blog, “Ashley Bennett, senior policy associate at the GHTC, offered her take on President Obama’s State of the Union address, including his emphasis on research and innovation.” She writes, “While the President was not as focused on using science to help the United States out-innovate the rest of the world as he was during last year’s State of the Union address, he did re-commit his administration to harnessing the strength of innovation to create an ‘America built to last,'” adding, “He also urged Congress not to cut parts of the budget that will hurt the promise of science and technology” (Bennett, 1/27).
In this post in the PLoS “Speaking of Medicine” blog, guest blogger Christian Lienhardt, senior scientific adviser at the Stop TB Partnership and WHO, “discusses the International Roadmap for Tuberculosis (TB) Research, a framework outlining priority areas for investment in TB research.” He writes, “The tools available for TB control are old, lack effectiveness, and are not readily accessible in many settings,” adding, “Fortunately there is hope, thanks to notable progress in the development of new tools for TB control over the last decade,” such as “the recent introduction of Xpert MTB/RIF — a DNA-based molecular assay that can diagnose TB and the presence of rifampicin-resistance in 100 minutes” (1/26).
Research into transmissible bird flu strains remains “urgent” despite flu investigators’ recent declaration of a “60-day moratorium on avian flu transmission because of the current controversy,” Yoshihiro Kawaoka of Tokyo University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, “a lead researcher on one of two recent studies showing how H5N1 can be transmitted through airborne droplets” among ferrets, writes in a commentary published Wednesday in the journal Nature, Reuters reports. In December, the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity “asked two leading journals, Nature and Science, to withhold details of both studies for fear it could be used by bioterrorists,” the news agency notes.
This post in the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s (GHTC) “Breakthroughs” blog is the first of a series in which Research!America, a member of the GHTC, will profile various U.S. states based on an analyses the organization conducted “to measure the economic impact of [research & development (R&D)], highlighting the benefits of it for states across the nation,” and to examine “what the [U.S.] is doing to advance global health R&D and why our continued support of such work is crucial for the health and prosperity of our future.” In the post, Danielle Doughman, program manager for global health R&D advocacy at Research!America, shares the organization’s findings in the state of California, writing, “California’s world class universities, businesses, and non-profits create a robust global health sector with significant impacts on job creation, tax revenue and health” (1/25).
The WHO is expected to hold a meeting in February to discuss controversy over recent research on the H5N1 bird flu virus, after the U.S. National Scientific Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) in December advised the journals Science and Nature to withhold publishing two teams’ research on the virus for fear the information could “fall into the wrong hands,” a commentary in the Economist’s “Babbage” blog states. “In a statement sent to Science, the WHO says that research” into bird flu genetics is “an important tool for global surveillance efforts,” the commentary says.
In this post in Global Health Frontline News’ “Notes From the Field” blog, Kevin Cain, chief of the tuberculosis (TB) branch for a research and public health collaboration between the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and the CDC in Kisumu, Kenya, reports on TB research underway as part of the collaboration. Cain highlights several current research initiatives in Kisumu and concludes, “The world cannot afford another phase of neglect. We know by partnering with governments as well as affected communities in innovative ways more progress can be made improving programs and the tools available for diagnosing, treating, and preventing TB, and lives will be saved” (1/20).
The head of the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which funded “two projects that created a highly pathogenic [H5N1] flu virus mutation, has welcomed a two-month moratorium on further research while defending the value and safety of the experiments,” the Financial Times reports. NIAID Director Anthony Fauci “told the FT it was ‘right to get off the unnecessary fast track’ of a debate ‘played out in sound bites,’ and instead hold a serious international debate to determine future publication and practice in the field,” according to the newspaper (Jack, 1/22). “In a letter published in the journals Nature and Science on Friday, 39 scientists defended the research as crucial to public health efforts, including surveillance programs to detect when the H5N1 influenza virus might mutate and spark a pandemic,” Reuters writes, adding, “But they are bowing to fear that has become widespread since media reports discussed the studies in December that the engineered viruses ‘may escape from the laboratories’ … or possibly be used to create a bioterror weapon” (Begley, 1/20).
“An international debate over whether to censor new research on bird flu may soon prove academic, as other laboratories close in on similar findings showing how one of the most deadly viruses could mutate to be transmitted from one person to another,” Reuters reports. Last year, two teams of researchers reported study results “that showed how the H5N1 [bird flu] virus can be transmitted through airborne droplets between ferrets, a model for studying influenza in humans,” and the findings prompted the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) in December to advise “two leading journals, Nature and Science, to withhold details of the research for fear it could be used by bioterrorists,” the news service writes.