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Top Infectious Disease News of the Week—October 7, 2018

Stay up-to-date on the latest infectious disease news by checking out our top 5 articles of the week.

#5: Letermovir Found to Reduce Clinically Significant CMV Infection in HCT Patients

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) remains one of the most important complications after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT). It can cause multiorgan disease in recipients of stem cell transplants, including pneumonia, hepatitis, gastroenteritis, retinitis, and encephalitis, and the disease can develop both early and late after the transplantation procedure.

Letermovir is an antiviral agent that inhibits CMV replication by binding to components of the terminase complex. Letermovir was developed in an area of need for effective antiviral agents that can be safely prescribed prophylactically after HCT.

Read more about letermovir as treatment for CMV infection in HCT patients.

#4: Treatment Options for Immunocompromised Patients with Hepatitis B

In a session at ID Week 2018 held this year in San Francisco, California, Kenneth Sherman, MD, Gould Professor of Medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, presented a session about the hepatitis B virus vaccine.

In the presentation, Dr. Sherman highlighted some of the current and future challenges associated with the treatment and prevention of hepatitis B virus. Additionally, Dr. Sherman discussed hepatitis B infections in immunocompromised patients and what clinicians should expect to see in the future for hepatitis B treatment.

Following his presentation, Dr. Sherman sat down with Contagion® for an exclusive interview on his presentation and his research.

Check out our Q&A with Dr. Kenneth Sherman.

#3: The Benefits of Dual Therapy for Gram-Negative Infections: An Assessment of the Guidelines

Prior to the kick off of ID Week 2018, the Society of Infectious Disease Pharmacists (SIDP) hosted their 2018 Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California. The SIDP meeting included several exciting presentations on trending topics and issues in infectious disease pharmacy.

As part of the program, Julie Ann Justo, PharmD, MS, BCPS-AQ ID, clinical professor at the University of South Carolina School of Pharmacy, gave a presentation on the use of combination therapy for gram-negative agents.

Dr. Justo sat down with Contagion® to discuss her presentation, which reflected on the Surviving Sepsis guidelines, hospital-acquired pneumonia (HAP)/ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) recommendation guidelines, as well as national guideline recommendations and primary literature.

Read more about the benefits of dual therapy in gram-negative infections.

#2: Treatment of Antibiotic-Resistant Infections: Back to the Future of Therapies

The closing plenary at the 2018 annual ID Week 2018, held in San Francisco, California, took a decidedly personal turn in addressing the re-emergence of phage therapy to treat antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. The panel of presenters included Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, department of medicine, University of California San Diego (UCSD), and her husband Thomas Patterson, PhD, a professor of psychiatry at UCSD.

As well as being a research team in the study of HIV infection in marginalized populations, they are the reason phage treatment of resistant infections has been kick-started after nearly a century of dormancy. Their involvement is not rooted in professional interest, but rather the last-ditch, nothing-left-to-lose use of phage therapy to save the life of Dr. Patterson.

Read more about the closing plenary.

#1: CRISPR Technology Could Help Thwart the Evolution of Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs

Much of the effort to find new ways to fight the growing number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria have focused on the need for novel antibiotics; however, in a new study, University of Colorado Boulder investigators found a new approach using genome editing.

The World Health Organization (WHO) calls antibiotic resistance one of the greatest threats to global health, food security, and development. Although bacterial pathogens naturally develop resistance to antibiotics, WHO officials say that the misuse of antibiotics in medical and agricultural applications is speeding up the process. As a result, infections from so-called superbugs are leading to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs, and increased mortality. In the United States, the problem leads to 2 million antibiotic-resistant infections and 23,000 deaths each year, according to estimates from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In 2017, WHO published a global priority list of 12 antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Although Escherichia coli is not one of the “dirty dozen," this pathogen can cause dangerous illnesses such as intestinal infections, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness, and pneumonia. The growing problem of antibiotic-resistant E coli— including forms of the bacteria with resistance to the last-resort antibiotic colistin—has prompted research into new antibiotics, antibiotic combinations, and alternative strategies to fight once easy-to-treat infections.

In the new study, published in the journal Communications Biology, a team of investigators detailed an experimental new approach to fighting E coli using no antibiotic agents. Instead, the new strategy involved the use of genetic disruption in what they call the "Controlled Hindrance of Adaptation of OrganismS (CHAOS)" approach. This new E coli-fighting tactic uses CRISPR DNA to systematically perturb gene expression in the bacteria. According to the authors, their approach allows them to alter multiple gene expressions within the bacteria cells to stunt its central processes and thwart its ability to evolve defenses.

Read more about using CRISPR in the fight against antibiotic resistance.