ASCLS eNewsBytes
Jan. 8, 2013

Flu cases rise across US; severe season feared
HealthDay News
This year's influenza season got off to an early start, and according to published accounts it's ramping up as peak flu season nears. Flu season usually peaks in late January or early February but by November the flu was already severe and widespread in some parts of the South and Southeast. Farther north, activity has escalated in the Mid-Atlantic states, including Virginia, in addition to Illinois and Rhode Island.More

Flu vaccine at quadruple dose needed for those with HIV
Medscape Medical News
A quadruple-dose vaccine may be the answer for protecting patients with HIV from seasonal influenza, according to results from a study published in the January issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. For the study, Noah McKittrick, M.D., and colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University in Philadelphia, randomly assigned 190 HIV-positive adults receiving stable antiretroviral therapy to receive either a standard dose or a high dose of trivalent influenza vaccine.More

'Vomiting Larry' robot helps to combat norovirus
Don't feel bad that Larry has contracted the norovirus, an extremely contagious infection accompanied by explosive vomiting and diarrhea. "Vomiting Larry" is actually a robot — a humanoid simulated vomiting system — designed to help combat the spread of the norovirus by recreating what happens when a person throws up so scientists can measure how far the virus spreads.More

World first as scientists create cancer-killing cells that can be injected into patients
The Daily Mail
Scientists have created cells capable of killing cancer for the first time. The dramatic breakthrough was made by researchers in Japan who created cancer-specific killer T cells. They say the development paves the way for the cells being directly injected into cancer patients for therapy.More

Will tuition discounts get more students to major in science?
Florida is looking for ways to steer more students into high-paying fields that employers are eager to cultivate. Gov. Rick Scott's task force on higher education recently suggested freezing tuition at state schools in "strategic areas," like engineering, science, health care and technology, while letting the cost of humanities and other majors rise.More

Interferon-free therapy for hepatitis C may become a reality
Medical News Today
A new exploratory agent has been tested in the treatment of the hepatitis C virus infection, allowing patients to avoid the current interferon treatment that comes with harsh side effects. A clinical trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine has defined sofosbuvir, an oral nucleotide inhibitor of HCV polymerase, as successful in the treatment of HCV infection. The standard treatment for the HCV infection is interferon, given by injection under the fat.More

WHO blames insufficient routine immunization for measles outbreak
The International News
The World Health Organization said recently that insufficient immunization had triggered the current outbreak of measles in different parts of Pakistan. Over 300 children and adults have died due to measles in the country, 210 children in Sindh alone in 2012, according to the WHO.More

FDA approves diarrhea drug for HIV/AIDS patients
MedPage Today
The first drug specifically for relieving diarrhea associated with antiretroviral therapy in HIV/AIDS patients has been approved by the FDA, the agency announced. Crofelemer, an extract from the sap of the Croton lecheri plant, is only the second botanical prescription drug approved by the FDA for any purpose.More

Controversial Boston biolab gets federal approval
The Associated Press via WBUR-TV
Federal regulators have given Boston University approval to open an infectious disease research lab that has sparked years of opposition from neighbors. In a notice published in the Federal Register, the National Institutes of Health said that after "careful consideration" it has concluded that BU's National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories in the city's South End, which will perform research on some of the world’s deadliest germs, "poses minimal risk to the community."More

TB's revenge
If there was any doubt that tuberculosis was fighting back, it was dispelled in 2005, at the Church of Scotland Hospital in the village of Tugela Ferry, South Africa. Doctors at the hospital, in a rough, remote corner of KwaZulu-Natal province, were hardened to people dying from gunshots and AIDS. But even they were puzzled and frightened when patients with HIV who were responding well to antiretroviral drugs began dying — rapidly — from TB.More

Rocky Mountain Labs scientists studying deadly new virus
Billings Gazette
Scientists at Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Mont., are scrambling to research and understand a deadly new virus that has sparked fears of a new SARS-like outbreak. This newly identified coronavirus first caught the attention of scientists when it killed a man in Saudi Arabia in September.More

Disease forecasters look to the sky
The Associated Press via USA Today
VideoBriefOnly a 10 percent chance of showers today, but a 70 percent chance of flu next month. That's the kind of forecasting health scientists are trying to move toward, as they increasingly include weather data in their attempts to predict disease outbreaks. In one recent study, two scientists reported they could predict — more than seven weeks in advance — when flu season was going to peak in New York City.More