Breaking News
October 18, 2018 - Health Highlights: Oct. 15, 2018
October 18, 2018 - Largest study of ‘post-treatment controllers’ reveals clues about HIV remission
October 18, 2018 - Bad Blood in Silicon Valley: A conversation with John Carreyrou
October 18, 2018 - ANTRUK’s Annual Lecture sends out message on shortage of funds for antibiotic research
October 18, 2018 - NAM special publication outlines steps to ensure interoperability of health care systems
October 18, 2018 - Novel method uses just a drop of blood to monitor effect of lung cancer therapy
October 18, 2018 - New blood test could spare cancer patients from unnecessary chemotherapy
October 18, 2018 - Training young researchers to work with data volumes arising in the health sector
October 18, 2018 - New Metrohm IC method is reliable and convenient to use for zinc oxide assay
October 18, 2018 - Global AIDS, TB fight needs more money: health fund
October 18, 2018 - Understanding the forces that cause sports concussions
October 18, 2018 - Research points to new target for treating periodontitis
October 18, 2018 - New tool improves assessment of postpartum depression symptoms
October 18, 2018 - From Biopsy to Diagnosis
October 18, 2018 - Sexual harassment and assault linked to worse physical/mental health among midlife women
October 18, 2018 - Stumped by medical school? A Q&A with a learning specialist
October 18, 2018 - Targeting immune checkpoints in microglia could reduce out-of-control neuroinflammation
October 18, 2018 - FDA Approves Talzenna (talazoparib) for gBRCAm HER2-Negative Locally Advanced or Metastatic Breast Cancer
October 18, 2018 - Sleeping Beauty technique helps identify genes responsible for NAFLD-associated liver cancer
October 18, 2018 - Many U.S. adults confused about primary care, study shows
October 18, 2018 - UC researcher focuses on light-mediated therapies to target breast cancer
October 18, 2018 - With philanthropic gifts, Stanford poised to make major advances in neurosciences | News Center
October 18, 2018 - Mice study shows antibiotics are not always necessary to cure sepsis
October 18, 2018 - Researchers discover why heart contractions are weaker in individuals with HCM
October 18, 2018 - Participation in organized sport during childhood may have long-term skeletal benefits
October 18, 2018 - Probiotic/antibiotic combination could eradicate drug-resistant bacteria
October 17, 2018 - More Socioeconomic Challenges for Hispanic Women With HIV
October 17, 2018 - 49,XXXXY syndrome – Genetics Home Reference
October 17, 2018 - Scientists uncover possible new causes of Tourette syndrome
October 17, 2018 - Girl undergoes unusual heart surgery after compassionate-use exemption | News Center
October 17, 2018 - Health Issues That Are Sometimes Mistaken for Gluten Sensitivity
October 17, 2018 - Elective induction of labor at 39 weeks may be beneficial option for women and their babies
October 17, 2018 - New smart watch algorithms can accurately monitor wearers’ sleep patterns
October 17, 2018 - Researchers demonstrate epigenetic memory transmission via sperm
October 17, 2018 - FDA, DHS announce memorandum of agreement to address cybersecurity in medical devices
October 17, 2018 - Health Tip: Know the Risks of Chicken Pox
October 17, 2018 - Immunotherapy effective against hereditary melanoma
October 17, 2018 - Researchers reveal new mechanism for how animal cells stay intact | News Center
October 17, 2018 - Alzheimer's Goes Under the Cryo-Electron Microscope
October 17, 2018 - Medicare for all? CMS chief warns program has enough problems already
October 17, 2018 - Metrohm Raman introduces Mira P handheld Raman system
October 17, 2018 - Expanding the knowledge about hippocampus to better understand cognitive deficits in MS
October 17, 2018 - Study of Nigerian breast cancer patients reveals prevalence of aggressive molecular features
October 17, 2018 - Many healthy children may have metabolic risk factors, finds study
October 17, 2018 - A new antibiotic could be a better, faster treatment for tuberculosis
October 17, 2018 - “I will not become a Robot Doctor”: A medical student vows to practice compassion
October 17, 2018 - Study findings may explain sporadic outbreaks of C. difficile infections in hospitals
October 17, 2018 - Purdue researchers develop new chemical process to find better drug ‘fits’ for patients
October 17, 2018 - Yale researchers develop way to attack RNA with small-molecule drugs
October 17, 2018 - New pragmatic study launched to understand the effectiveness of new type 2 diabetes drug
October 17, 2018 - Alnylam Announces Plan to Initiate Rolling Submission of a New Drug Application and Pursue Full Approval for Givosiran
October 17, 2018 - Nine cases of polio-like illness suspected in children in illinois
October 17, 2018 - Eisai enters into agreement with Eurofarma for development and sales of lorcaserin in 17 countries
October 17, 2018 - Patients once thought incurable can benefit from high-dose radiation therapy
October 17, 2018 - Researchers awarded grant to advance testing of experimental heroin vaccine
October 17, 2018 - Researchers examine SSRI use during pregnancy and major gestational malformations
October 17, 2018 - FDA grants Rare Pediatric Disease Designation for Immusoft’s Iduronicrin genleukocel-T
October 17, 2018 - Reliable Respiratory announces acquisition of Attleboro Area Medical Equipment
October 17, 2018 - Study reveals link between childhood abuse and higher arthritis risk in adulthood
October 17, 2018 - Research shows people over 65 are not performing enough physical activity
October 17, 2018 - FDA Approves Liletta (levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system) 52 mg to Prevent Pregnancy for up to Five Years
October 17, 2018 - Weight gain after smoking cessation linked to increased short-term diabetes risk
October 17, 2018 - Researchers find opportunity to control salt-sensitive hypertension without exercising
October 17, 2018 - Women not warned about cancer associated with breast implants
October 17, 2018 - Metrohm offers robust handheld Raman analyzer for Defense and Security
October 17, 2018 - Modeling Non-Numerical Data in Systems Biology
October 17, 2018 - Research aims to address health disparities in African-American men
October 17, 2018 - Human and cattle decoys trap outdoor-biting mosquitoes in malaria endemic regions
October 17, 2018 - High Circulating Prolactin Level Inversely Linked to T2DM Risk
October 17, 2018 - Study finds gene variant predisposes people to both Type 2 diabetes and low body weight
October 17, 2018 - Metrohm software products make it easy to comply with ALOCA and ALCOA+ guidelines
October 17, 2018 - Network of doctors identify the cause of 31 new conditions
October 17, 2018 - Notable improvement in brain cancer survival among younger patients but not much for elderly
October 17, 2018 - Scientists shed light on roles of transcription factors, TP63 and SOX2, in squamous cell carcinoma
October 17, 2018 - Costs of Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program may be higher than expected reimbursement
October 17, 2018 - Misuse of prescription opioids or benzodiazepines associated with suicidal thoughts
October 17, 2018 - New research seeks to address sex disparities in women’s health
October 17, 2018 - C-Section Rates Have Nearly Doubled Since 2000: Study
October 17, 2018 - Talking to Your Kids About STDs
October 17, 2018 - New classification of periodontal and peri-implant diseases and conditions
5 Questions: Luby on virus with potential to cause global pandemic | News Center

5 Questions: Luby on virus with potential to cause global pandemic | News Center

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

A little-known virus discovered 20 years ago could become the next global pandemic.

recent outbreak of Nipah virus in South India has renewed interest in the disease, which can spread from fruit bats or pigs to humans. It kills nearly three-quarters of the people who become infected. There is no vaccine for it and no cure, and it has many strains capable of spreading from person to person, increasing the chances of a strain emerging with the ability to rapidly spread among South Asia’s densely populated communities and beyond.

Stanford scientists have illustrated potential pathways between people and bat secretions, shown Nipah contaminating hospital surfaces and piloted a way of preventing transmission. Stephen Luby, MD, professor of infectious diseases, has co-authored recent studies linking changes in temperature with the virus’ spread from bats to humans and examining the impact of behavioral changes that reduce the likelihood of people consuming potentially virus-contaminated tree sap.

Luby is also a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and a member of Stanford Bio-X and the Stanford Child Health Research Institute. He spoke with writer Rob Jordan about risks posed by the current Nipah virus outbreak and interventions that could slow or halt its transmission.

Q: How might Nipah adapt to more efficient human-to-human transmission and thereby become a global pandemic threat?

Luby: It is conceivable that there is currently a strain of Nipah virus circulating among bats that, if it infected people, would efficiently transmit from person to person. So far, we have not identified such a strain.

Characteristics that might increase the risk of person-to-person transmission would be a virus that has a stronger tendency to move to the respiratory tract in high numbers. It is conceivable that the virus could acquire a mutation that would enhance this capacity. One concern is that anytime a virus infects a human, it is in an environment that selects for survival in that context.

Q: What role, if any, does land conversion have in altering the epidemiology of infectious diseases, including the emergence of novel infections such as Nipah?

Luby: The natural habitat for Nipah-carrying Pteropus bats is tropical forests. As these forests have been converted into agricultural lands, the bats have sought out other sources of food. In Bangladesh, the virus moves from bats to people because the bats are licking fresh date palm sap and so passing their saliva — which occasionally is infected with Nipah virus — on to people who drink the sap. Because of habitat loss, Pteropus bats in Australia are more likely to stay in suburbs where fruit trees are available, and people and horses are nearby. The bats have halted much of their annual migration because of habitat loss.

Q: Why are emerging diseases such as Nipah important to study?

Luby: Emerging infections have resulted in the most devastating infectious diseases that humanity has ever faced. These include HIV, tuberculosis, measles and smallpox. History has taught us that emerging infections can be major threats.

Q: How can the global community thoughtfully respond to the threat?

Luby: Both Ebola outbreaks and hospital-based transmission of Nipah illustrate that hospitals in low-income countries are important sites for transmission of potential pandemic organisms. We cannot predict which organism is likely to be the next pandemic, nor are we likely to have everyone vaccinated against these unknown threats. There has been much less enthusiasm for efforts to reduce the risk of transmission in low-income-country hospitals. This requires addressing difficult problems with adequate supplies, behavior and accountability. In addition to developing vaccines and drugs, improving conditions in health care facilities is a key step for reducing global risk. As an example, [postdoctoral scholar] Lily Horng of Stanford has published nice work on the difficulty of implementing basic hand-hygiene practices in Bangladesh hospitals.

Investing in research to develop and test new strategies for sustaining improved infection-control practices in low-income-country hospitals would be a particularly useful area for research. It would also be useful to enhance surveillance, so we have a better idea about where the human cases are occurring, how many there are, what strains are involved and what pathway the virus is using to infect people.

Q: Nipah was discovered 20 years ago, and there is still no vaccine. Why?

Luby: Vaccine development requires large amounts of money. The number of people infected with Nipah is small, and so, until very recently, there has been limited investment in developing a vaccine. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations recently announced plans to fund the development of a human vaccine against Nipah.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles