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The Mystery of Zika’s Path to the Placenta

A photograph of a baby wearing a diaper. Jerome Scholler / Shutterstock

Image: A photograph of a baby wearing a diaper. Jerome Scholler / Shutterstock

theatlantic.com - August 18th 2016 - Adrienne LaFrance

Among the many mysteries that have vexed scientists about the ongoing Zika epidemic is the question of how, in pregnant women, the virus manages to cross the maternal-fetal barrier.

A woman’s body is usually quite good at protecting her growing baby. There are biological blockades to prevent the transmission of viruses to a fetus through the bloodstream, by way of the placenta; the same path for the nutrients and oxygen that sustain a developing baby.

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Zika Data From the Lab, and Right to the Web

A pregnant rhesus macaque monkey infected with the Zika virus. University researchers released a study that found the Zika virus persisted in the blood of pregnant monkeys for 30 to 70 days but only around seven days in others. Credit Scott Olson/Getty Images

Image:  A pregnant rhesus macaque monkey infected with the Zika virus. University researchers released a study that found the Zika virus persisted in the blood of pregnant monkeys for 30 to 70 days but only around seven days in others. Credit Scott Olson/Getty Images

nytimes.com - July 18th 2016 - Donald G. McNeil Jr.

Of the hundreds of monkeys in the University of Wisconsin’s primate center, a few — including rhesus macaque 827577 — are now famous, at least among scientists tracking the Zika virus.

Since February, a team led by David H. O’Connor, the chairman of the center’s global infectious diseases department, has been conducting a unique experiment in scientific transparency. The tactic may presage the evolution of new ways to respond to fast-moving epidemics.

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Beautiful New Images of Ebola Virus and Other Pathogens

When I told her that I wanted to major in microbiology, my best friend from childhood responded, “Are you sure you want to look in a microscope all day?”

But, as it turned out, a lot of microbiologists don’t use microscopes very often. I was one of them. The reason is because a substantial proportion of modern microbiology research uses the tools of molecular biology, for which microscopes are not needed.

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China's Science Revolution

Prof Peng Bo

Image: Prof Peng Bo

bbc.co.uk - May 23rd 2016 - Rebecca Morelle

China is super-sizing science.

From building the biggest experiments the world has ever seen to rolling out the latest medical advances on a massive scale and pushing the boundaries of exploration from the deepest ocean to outer space - China’s scientific ambitions are immense.

Just a few decades ago the nation barely featured in the world science rankings. 

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Beyond Contact Tracing: Community-Based Early Detection for Ebola Response

Introduction: The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa raised many questions about the control of infectious disease in an increasingly connected global society. Limited availability of contact information made contact tracing diffcult or impractical in combating the outbreak. 

Methods: We consider the development of multi-scale public health strategies that act on individual and community levels. We simulate policies for community-level response aimed at early screening all members of a community, as well as travel restrictions to prevent inter-community transmission. 

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Sexual transmission involved in tail end of Ebola epidemic

Some of the final cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone were transmitted via unconventional routes, such as semen and breastmilk, according to the largest analysis to date of the tail-end of the epidemic.


An international team of researchers has produced a detailed picture of the latter stages of the outbreak in Sierra Leone, using real-time sequencing of Ebola virus genomes carried out in a temporary laboratory in the country.

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Heightened Surveillance: Liberia and Guinea Discharge Ebola Patients

Monrovia – Liberia’s and Guinea’s last known Ebola patients in a latest flare-up of the disease that hit both countries have now been discharged. All remaining contacts of confirmed cases that were placed under a 3-week period of medical monitoring have been cleared.

Liberia’s Ministry of Health, WHO and partners involved in the response held a ceremony at the Ebola treatment facility in Monrovia to celebrate the recovery and discharge of a 2-year-old boy, the final patient in the flare-up in Liberia. 

His 5-year-old brother recovered a week earlier. On 29 April, the country also began a 42-day period of increased surveillance – amounting to two 21-day incubation cycles of the virus.

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National View: Climate change affects migration of infectious disease

By William B. Miller Jr., M.D.


Posted Apr. 19, 2016 at 2:01 AM 

Zika is all over the news. Zika is surely dangerous, but it has its limitations and is likely to be well contained. However, its greater significance extends beyond any current spread. Instead, it exemplifies the crucial emerging trend of a novel infectious agent that has swiftly become a global threat.

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Clinical trial for experimental Ebola drug publishes results

April 19, 2016

Results of the Wellcome Trust funded trial of the experimental anti-Ebola drug TKM-130803 have been published today (April 19) in PLOS Medicine. Using a novel approach designed to get rapid indications of a drug's effectiveness, the trial showed that at the dose given the drug did not improve survival compared to historic controls.

TKM-130803 interferes with the production of two essential Ebola virus proteins and has been shown to improve survival when given to monkeys experimentally infected with Ebola virus. Scientists from the University of Oxford and Sierra Leone worked with the humanitarian organisation GOAL Global, the World Health Organisation, and collaborators from a number of other institutions to test whether TKM-130803 could improve survival in adults with Ebola infection.

The researchers used a new approach to generate early evidence of effectiveness or ineffectiveness. This method can be used as a tool to screen potential therapies and determine the need for further studies (including randomised controlled trials) during an epidemic. The approach meant that the study was quickly able to reach a pre-defined point to stop the trial.

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