Top 5 Contagion&reg News Articles for the Week of July 30, 2017

New HIV drugs, vaccine regulations in France, correlations between intestinal viruses & type 1 diabetes, the susceptibility of Florida mosquitoes to transmit chikungunya, and an evaluation of the risk of hepatitis B reactivation in veterans on direct-acting antiviral therapy make up our Top 5 articles for the week of July 30, 2017.

#5: New Study Evaluates Risk of HBV Reactivation in Veterans Receiving DAA Therapy

Hepatitis C (HCV) and hepatitis B (HBV) viral infections cause a considerable disease burden worldwide. Globally, it is estimated that 400 million individuals have HBV, and approximately 170 million have HCV.

Because HCV and HBV have shared modes of transmission, such as through sharing needles during intravenous drug use, it is common to find patients coinfected with both viruses. Patients coinfected with HCV and HBV have worsened disease prognosis, often leading to liver cirrhosis; they also have an increased chance of developing liver cancer.

Interestingly, HCV has been shown to suppress HBV, raising concerns that HBV reactivation may occur in patients treated with HCV antiviral therapy. Indeed, there have been isolated cases reported, leading the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a warning about HBV reactivation in patients treated with direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy.

Read more about the new study evaluating the risk of HBV reactivation in veterans on DAA therapy, here.

#4: Florida Mosquitoes Highly Susceptible to Transmitting Chikungunya Virus

Other important findings include the fact that Aedes albopictus exhibited higher rates of infection and transmission of the Indian Ocean strain immediately after ingesting infected blood. "Aedes aegypti had higher body infection and saliva infection later during infection with the Asian strain of chikungunya virus than Ae. albopictus,” according to the study. The researchers also concluded that, over time, both species experienced sharp declines in transmission and infection rates.

The information gleaned from the evaluation " can provide useful measurements that can be used in risk assessment by scientists as they model chikungunya transmission," according to the press release. Outbreaks of the illness are difficult to predict; however, because the presence of Aedes albopictus or Aedes aegypti does not necessarily mean that either strains of the virus are present. Both species of mosquitoes are commonly found in areas across the United States that have not, thus far, experienced any outbreaks; however, individuals should still ensure they are taking preventive measures to avoid mosquito-borne illnesses, such as wearing protective clothing, eliminating standing water, and wearing insect repellant.

Learn more about Florida mosquitoes’ susceptibility to transmitting chikungunya virus, here.

#3: Study Finds Correlations Between Intestinal Viruses & Risk of Type 1 Diabetes

“Previous studies had found that changes in Bacteroides species are associated with developing type 1 diabetes, and here we found that viruses that infect Bacteroides are associated with the development of auto-antibodies,” said Herbert “Skip” Virgin IV, MD, PhD, a professor and head of pathology and immunology at Washington University, in St. Louis. “Our findings support the idea that Bacteroides or other bacteria, and the viruses that infect them, play a role in the pathological process that leads to diabetes.”

The Washington University study follows a 2015 study in Finland which looked at the gut microbiomes of children with high type 1 diabetes (T1D) risk and found similar correlations between bacteria profiles and the likelihood of developing T1D.

Dr. Virgin hopes his research and will not only lead to better prediction of T1D, but also eventually to prevention of the disease.

“There’s a lot of verification that needs to be done,” Dr. Virgin said. “We need to see if we can replicate these findings in another group of children, and then we have to show causality in an animal model. But if these results hold up, we may one day be able to prevent type 1 diabetes by treating high-risk children with circoviruses. It can be a terrible disease and no one knows how to prevent it. Circoviruses are worth investigating.”

Continue reading about the correlation between viruses and type 1 diabetes, here.

#2: France to Make Vaccinations For 11 Diseases Mandatory Starting in 2018

“It is always better to prevent a disease than to treat it after it occurs.” That’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continually stresses to individuals who are on the fence about vaccinating their children.

Although vaccines are not available for all diseases, they do exist for devastating diseases such as polio, measles, mumps and more. To this end, officials in France recently announced that beginning in 2018, it will be mandatory for parents to vaccinate their children against 11 common illnesses. (Mandatory vaccines are already required for diphtheria, tetanus, and poliomyelitis.)

The regulation announcement comes on the heels of reports that 24,000 cases of measles—as well as 10 related deaths—occurred in France between 2008 and 2016. These infections occurred despite the fact that a vaccine was widely available and recommended throughout the country, albeit not required.

Last month (July 2017), France’s Minister of Health Agnès Buzyn spoke to the French newspaper LeParisien about the problem, stating, “Today, in France, measles reappears. It is not tolerable that children die from it: 10 have died since 2008. Since this vaccine is only recommended and not mandatory, the coverage rate is 75%, whereas it should be 95% to prevent this epidemic.”

Read more about France’s regulation, here.

#1: 5 New HIV Drugs in the Pipeline

More than 36 million people worldwide are living with HIV, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Therefore, inexpensive, effective, and long-lasting medications are essential if the scientific community wants to successfully treat them.

Problems with adherence that plagued many individuals could be alleviated with the addition of new longer-acting HIV medications. These long-acting medications may also reduce costly laboratory tests to monitor their efficacy, and bring down drug costs—a major factor in middle- and low-income countries where HIV is most prevalent.

“With several highly potent agents in the pipeline and a healthy proliferation of many promising technologies for long-acting delivery, the prospects for very long-acting ARVs [anti-retrovirals] for treatment and prevention have never been brighter,” said Matthew Barnhart MD, MPH, medical officer for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and associate editor of Global Health: Science and Practice in a recent editorial.

Dr. Barnhart outlined and described 5 types of drug developments that put HIV treatment on the threshold of a breakthrough.

Learn about the 5 HIV drugs in the pipeline, here.