Ethiopia: AU to Set Up an African CDC

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Dr. Marie Goreti Harakeye, Head of HIV/AIDS, TB & OID Division Under the AU Department of Social Affairs

The African Union (AU) is planning to establish a pan-African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (African CDC) by mid-2015.

First proposed by Ethiopia and approved by the AU Commission in 2013 at the 22nd ordinary session in Abuja, Nigeria, the idea of establishing the Centre has since been discussed in a series of AU summits and extraordinary sessions, says Dr. Marie Goreti Harakeye, Head of HIV/AIDS, TB & OID Division Under the AU Department of Social Affairs.

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Africa: Lab-Free Immune Therapy Developed

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A cheap and simple way to obtain the main type of disease-supressing antibody in human blood could help save the lives of patients in the developing world with malfunctioning immune systems.

The method of collecting immunoglobulin G (IgG) may enable more patients with primary immunodeficiencies (PID) to get the regular antibody doses they need.

Immunoglobulins bind to bacteria and viruses in the blood, fighting infections such as Ebola. Doses of the antibodies are normally prepared in sophisticated laboratories. These labs require blood plasma donations from around 30,000 people to produce economically viable amounts of antibodies.

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FDA approves Corgenix’s Ebola test for emergency use

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Diagnostics company Corgenix Medical Corp said on Thursday U.S. health regulators had approved its rapid Ebola test for emergency use, in response to the world’s worst outbreak of the virus that killed more than 10,000 so far.

The company’s ReEBOV Antigen Rapid Test, which involves putting a drop of blood on a paper strip and waiting for at least 15 minutes for a reaction, was cleared by the World Health Organization last week.

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Trial of 2 Ebola Vaccines’ Effectiveness Is Announced

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Federal officials said on Thursday that the first clinical trial to test the effectiveness of Ebola vaccines was expected to begin in Liberia in two weeks.

Volunteers in the trial will be given either a vaccine being developed by GlaxoSmithKline, a vaccine being developed by Merck or a placebo. There are expected to be 9,000 people in each arm of the trial.

GlaxoSmithKline, which is based in Britain, said on Friday that it was shipping the first few hundred doses of its vaccine to Liberia, using a commercial flight from Belgium, where its vaccine division is based.

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Africa: Cashew Nut By-Product May Help Cut Sleeping Sickness

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A new method for making chemicals that lure tsetse flies to traps has been developed. It uses a cheap by-product from the cashew nut industry as its starting material, so the discovery may mean the flies – which carry sleeping sickness (also known as African trypanosomiasis) – can be trapped at a lower cost.

The method, published in Green Chemistry last month, could offer a sustainable and more-affordable way to make two ‘attractant’ chemicals: 3-ethylphenol and 3-propylphenol.

Many existing odour attractants are prohibitively expensive and not widely available in large quantities. It is possible to use buffalo urine, which naturally contains chemicals that attract the flies, as a substitute – though this has the downside of smelling rather unpleasant.

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Researchers Seek Crucial Tool: A Fast, Finger-Prick Ebola Test

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Searching for a new way to attack Ebola, companies and academic researchers are now racing to develop faster and easier tests for determining whether someone has the disease.

Such tests might require only a few drops of blood rather than a test tube of it, and provide the answer on the spot, without having to send the sample to a laboratory.

The tests could be essential in West Africa, where it can take days for a sample to travel to one of the relatively few testing laboratories, leaving those suspected of having the disease in dangerous limbo.

Rapid tests might also be used to screen travelers at airports, providing a more definitive answer than taking their temperatures.

“There’s a great deal of interest in a technology that can screen large numbers of people from a finger prick in only a few minutes,” said Cary Gunn, chief executive of Genalyte, a company in San Diego that says its approach can do just that. “You can imagine testing an entire planeload of passengers and screening through them cost-effectively.”

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Better Staffing and Monitoring of Fluids and Vital signs of patients Seen as Crucial to Ebola Treatment in Africa and the U.S.

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Dr. Rick Sacra, a missionary who contracted Ebola in Liberia this August, was first treated there. Each nurse on the ward cared for 15 or 20 patients, and none could work for more than an hour at a time because the protective gear was so suffocatingly hot. They never drew his blood for lab tests. There was no lab.

“A nurse makes rounds maybe once every eight hours,” Dr. Sacra said. A doctor came by once a day. “The staff is so few.”

After he was evacuated to Nebraska Medical Center, a nurse stayed in his room all the time, and dozens of people were involved in his care. He had daily blood tests to monitor his electrolytes, blood count, liver and kidneys, and doctors used the results to adjust what went into his intravenous lines.

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Ebola Vaccine Trials Planned for December

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Public health authorities said Friday they hoped to begin trials of Ebola vaccines in disease-ravaged West Africa as early as December and could know around April whether they were effective, clearing the way for possible mass inoculations to stem the epidemic.

“Vaccine is not the magic bullet,” Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny of the World Health Organization said at a news conference in Geneva. “But when ready, they may be a good part of the effort to turn the tide of this epidemic.”

Dr. Kieny, assistant director-general for health systems and innovation for the Geneva-based organization, spoke Friday about the conclusions of a meeting the day before at which government officials, drug companies and others discussed how best to test and possibly deploy vaccines.

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Without Lucrative Market, Potential Ebola Vaccine Was Shelved for Years

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GALVESTON, Tex. — Almost a decade ago, scientists from Canada and the United States reported that they had created a vaccine that was 100 percent effective in protecting monkeys against the Ebola virus. The results were published in a respected journal, and health officials called them exciting. The researchers said tests in people might start within two years, and a product could potentially be ready for licensing by 2010 or 2011.

It never happened. The vaccine sat on a shelf. Only now, with nearly 5,000 people dead from Ebola and an epidemic raging out of control in West Africa, is the vaccine undergoing the most basic safety tests in humans.

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West Africa: Researchers Develop Quick Ebola Diagnosis Device

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The new tool, developed by France’s Atomic Energy Commission, could allow doctors to diagnose a patient with suspected Ebola in under 15 minutes.

France’s Atomic Energy Commission said that the device, which has undergone trials at a high-security for validating the technique and prototype, would be available in Ebola-hit countries by the end of October for a clinical trial.

It further added that the tool, not yet approved by regulators, works by monoclonal antibodies reacting to the presence of virus in a tiny sample, which can be a drop of blood, plasma or urine.

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