Jan 5, 2013

Health Organization has begun to use a new vaccine against polio.

New Vaccine Joins Campaign to End Polio
New Vaccine Joins Campaign to End Polio
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  • Duration: 4:02
  • Published: 10 Feb 2010
  • Updated: 29 Aug 2012
Author: VOALearningEnglish
This is the VOA Special English Development Report, from voaspecialenglish.com The World Health Organization has begun to use a new vaccine against polio. Officials say it will become a major tool in the campaign to end a disease that mainly affects children under age five. The new formulation is known as BOPV, or bivalent oral polio vaccine. It was used for the first time in December in a polio immunization campaign in Afghanistan. Carol Pandak is with the PolioPlus program of the service organization Rotary International. She explains that health workers have been using what are called trivalent vaccines in some places. These are areas like Afghanistan where more than one kind of polio virus exists. There are three types of polio virus. The trivalent vaccine is least effective against type three, more effective against type one and highly effective against type two. As a result, few new cases of type two have been reported since nineteen ninety-nine. This has led to greater use of monovalent vaccines to protect against either type one or type three polio. But Carol Pandak says the monovalent vaccine is not enough in areas with both kinds of polio. Rod Curtis at the World Health Organization in Geneva says the new bivalent vaccine solves this problem. Carol Pandak says tests found the new vaccine to be thirty percent more effective than the trivalent vaccine. More than thirty new cases of polio were reported in Afghanistan last year. About half were type one and the ...
Gov't Issues Polio Alert
Gov't Issues Polio Alert
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  • Duration: 3:28
  • Published: 06 Sep 2011
  • Updated: 05 Jul 2012
Author: kenyacitizentv
The government has declared a public health alert after a three - year - old boy tested positive for a polio - type virus in Rongo district of Nyanza province. Public health and sanitation Beth Mugo said ministry officials have since been dispatched to the area in an effort to contain the outbreak as well as administer polio vaccines to children under the age of five. The ministry will undertake house to house vaccinations in five regions which have been declared highly volatile. Judy Kosgey has that report.

Jan 4, 2013

Recently, the global effort to eradicate polio says The Lancet

Global polio eradication: not there yet

On Dec 31, the world missed the deadline for the 24-year-old Global Polio Eradication Initiative to halt all wild poliovirus transmission by the end of 2012. Set in 1988, WHO's original target—global eradication of polio by the year 2000—has been extended several times. With only 215 cases reported worldwide as of Dec 26, 2012—an encouraging contrast to 650 cases in 2011—success seemed close.
But recently, the global effort to eradicate polio has suffered devastating setbacks. In mid-December, nine health workers were shot dead while travelling from house to house to administer polio vaccine to children during the national anti-polio campaign in Pakistan. And on Jan 1, six female Pakistani aid workers and a male doctor were shot dead. The brutal attacks took place in several locations, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which in 2012 accounted for more than 40% of all Pakistan's polio cases and 46% of Pakistan's infected towns and districts; Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan with a population of 18 million; and Sindh province. The killing of the health workers was condemned as “senseless and inexcusable” by UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. Owing to the safety concerns, the UN was forced to halt its participation in the vaccination campaign, and the campaign itself has been suspended temporarily by the Government of Pakistan and the affected provinces.
In this tragedy, women and children are the main victims. Most of the health workers who were killed were women, and the youngest was a schoolgirl aged 17 years. Female health workers are standing fearlessly and selflessly on the frontline of Pakistan's war against polio, because culturally only women are allowed to enter into houses to talk to mothers and vaccinate their children. Last June, in Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the Pakistani Taliban banned polio vaccination in retaliation for the use of unmanned drones by the USA. It is of deep concern that women who stand for something big have become the Pakistani Taliban's target. Female polio health workers are one example; the schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, whom the Taliban shot in the head in October for campaigning for access to education—another essential ingredient in promoting children's health—is another. More than 3·5 million Pakistani children have missed vaccinations as a result of the campaign's suspension. “Such attacks deprive Pakistan's most vulnerable populations—especially children—of basic life-saving health interventions”, said WHO and UNICEF in ajoint statement.
The effect of the killing of polio vaccine workers in Pakistan will have repercussions for its neighbour Afghanistan, which, together with Pakistan itself and Nigeria, is one of the remaining polio-endemic countries. Genetic analysis shows that two of the three chains of polio transmission in Afghanistan are from Pakistan. Other neighbouring countries have also been put at risk. For instance, polio broke out in China in 2011 for the first time since 1999 after being imported from Pakistan; 18 people were paralysed and one died. Heidi Larson, an anthropologist who studies public trust in vaccines and immunisation at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, pointed out that the killings of health workers in Pakistan could be a “game changer” in the global efforts to eradicate polio, calling for a rethink of delivery strategies. She compared it with the 2003—04 immunisation boycott in northern Nigeria, led by religious and political leaders, who claimed that the oral polio vaccine could cause sterility. This boycott led to poliovirus not only rebounding in Nigeria, but also spreading to 15 African countries and to Indonesia. The boycott and its effect prompted discussions between WHO, the Organization of Islamic States, and local religious leaders to help address the rumours and contain the further spread of polio. Indeed, the insecurity of and inaccessibility to vaccination have become the major impediments to the final push for polio eradication. Last year, Kathleen O'Reilly and colleagues reported in The Lancet the effect of mass immunisation campaigns and new oral poliovirus vaccines on the incidence of polio in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They reported that decreases in vaccination coverage in parts of Pakistan and southern Afghanistan had severely restricted the effectiveness of bivalent oral poliovirus vaccines.
To eradicate polio, the work that the brave polio health workers died for must be continued in 2013. Furthermore, it is imperative not only to ensure immunisation workers' security, but also to address the determinants behind the shooting of polio health workers—ie, to win the hearts of the public, to go beyond the “polio only” agenda, and to enhance polio vaccination's integration into the routine health and immunisation programme.
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Full-size image (28K) Corbis
The final push for polio eradication?
WHO and partners hope that they can finally rid the world of polio. But insurgency, Taliban-initiated boycotts, and a US$1 billion funding deficit will not make it an easy task. Dara Mohammadi reports.
Bruce Aylward has reason to lay awake at night. As Assistant Director-General of WHO, he is heading the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which, after 23 gruelling years and two failed attempts, is making another high-stakes swing at the eradication of polio.
“There was a bit of a false premise going around about the consequences of failure”, he tells The Lancet. “Many people had, for a long time, almost lied to themselves, saying that if eradication failed it wouldn't really matter, that we could just continue with cases at a very low level.”
He explains how outbreaks in Tajikistan and DR Congo in 2010—11 changed that perception. During the outbreaks, hundreds of children were left paralysed and, uncharacteristically for the virus, which usually affects only young children, many adults were also infected, with substantial proportions of them dying from the disease.
“People are starting to understand that over time we are again going to have over a quarter of a million children paralysed every single year if this programme fails”, he says. “And it's not going to be a gradual creep back up that nobody notices, we could have serious backlashes in places that have long been polio-free, with tremendous mortality rates in adults.” Continue
Post Polio Litaff, Association A.C _APPLAC Mexico

Jan 3, 2013

Scientists Discover New Technique To Prevent Certain Inherited Diseases

Mitochondrial disorders

Passing on genetic mutations for disease is one of the greatest fears among parents-to-be, but a new technique may alleviate some of those worries.
Mitochondrial disorders affect about 1 in 10,000 people and can cause a range of medical problems from stunted growth, vision loss, neurological disorders to kidney disease. Some of these originate in mutations that code for mitochondria, which are the cell’s workhorses that churn out the energy a cell needs in order to function. Other aberrations can arise from mitochondria’s own DNA; mitochondria hold a unique place in human biology because they contain their own unique DNA and can make their own proteins, apart from the proteins that the cell manufactures.
However, researchers from The New York Stem Cell Foundation Laboratory and Columbia University Medical Center may have found a way to prevent inheritance of these disorders with a technique that involves transferring a cell’s nucleus, and not its mitochondrial DNA, into a different human egg.
Currently, there are no cures for mitochondrial disorders, many of which are passed from mother to child since children inherit their mother’s mitochondrial DNA from the egg. Symptoms of these conditions typically appear in childhood, and women who carry such mutations often have to choose between not having children or undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) with donor eggs in order to avoid passing on a genetic condition.

The research is published in the journal Nature and describes how they team successfully removed the nucleus of an unfertilized egg and replaced it with the nucleus from a donor’s egg cell. This way, the egg cell still has a mother’s genes but not her mitochondrial DNA, which is located outside the nucleus in the egg’s cytoplasm.
By lowering the temperature of the egg before the transfer, the researchers were apparently able to complete the procedure without harming the egg cell. Previous nuclear transfer techniques resulted in damage to about half of the eggs, which either failed to divide or began dividing with abnormalities. In the current study, the scientists activated the egg with the new nucleus, tookstem cells from it, and allowed them to grow for a year. They observed the stem cells as they developed into a variety of cell types including neurons and heart cells, which are influenced by mitochondrial DNA.
“This gives us the opportunity to prevent the inheritance of these devastating diseases,” says the study’s c0-author Dieter Egli. ”Because these mutations are inherited in the cytoplasm, it can be unpredictable. But for the first time, we can prevent the mutations and really cut off the inheritance of these diseases.”
Such nuclear transfer is the basis of cloning, and the same technique was used to clone the first mammal, Dolly the sheep, who was a genetic copy of the ewe whose DNA was transferred into the donor egg that became Dolly. Instead of using a fully developed adult cell, however, in the current experiment Egli and his team used the DNA from another egg, which should make the process more successful since both eggs are about the same age developmentally. The fact that the neurons, heart and other cells that developed from the transferred egg suggests that the technique could be a way of bypassing the inheritance of certain mitochondrial mutations.
But before the procedure can be used clinically, Egli says additional studies need to repeat and perfect this results. And the public needs to become more comfortable with the idea of swapping egg cells, something that may still be too much of a social and ethical hurdle for many. “I think to a large extent [the greatest challenge ahead] is the opinion of people. Can we convince people that we should be doing this now? We need to have a public discussion between patients and providers. We want to start the conversation with this,” he says. And if advances such as these continue, that dialogue can’t happen soon enough, especially for families who are affected by mitochondrial disorders.
Post Polio Litaff, Association A.C _APPLAC Mexico

Jan 2, 2013

Generic Painkillers

Drug Makers Losing a Bid to Foil Generic Painkillers

Public officials have long urged makers of powerful painkillers to do more to make the medications harder to crush and abuse. But now that some companies have done so, they want something in return — a ban on generic versions of the drugs they make that do not have such tamper-resistant designs. 
Stuart Isett for The New York Times
Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin
Purdue Pharma LP
Tablets of OxyContin have been made more resistant to abuse. At left, a tablet crushed into powder. Right, a reformulated tablet does not easily turn into powder when it is crushed.
In coming months, generic drug producers are expected to introduce cheaper versions of OxyContin and Opana, two long-acting narcotic painkillers, or opioids, that are widely abused.
But in hopes of delaying the move to generics, the makers of the brand name drugs, Purdue Pharma and Endo Pharmaceuticals, have introduced versions that are more resistant to crushing or melting, techniques abusers use to release the pills’ narcotic payloads.
The two drug makers, which say they are motivated not by profit but by public safety, have also been waging a multifront political and legal war to block sales of generics that are not tamper-resistant.
The companies argue that the older designs will feed street demand for strong painkillers, drugs that are involved in more than 15,000 overdose-related deaths a year. While some experts say the new tamper-resistant products are not a cure-all for the abuse problem, others say they represent an important step forward.
“I think it would be a shame if the government would allow generics to come in without any tamper-resistant properties,” said Dr. Lynn R. Webster, a specialist in Salt Lake City who has consulted with companies developing such safeguards. Over the last year, Purdue Pharma and Endo have backed legislation in Congress that would require many opioids to be tamper-resistant, and lobbied in favor of similar state laws.
They have also urged the Food and Drug Administration to give their tamper-resistant designs a stamp of safety approval that other manufacturers would have to match. The agency does not currently differentiate between drugs that have abuse-resistant qualities and those that do not.
Thus far, the companies’ efforts have failed. In mid-December, a federal judge threw out a lawsuit by Endo that would have blocked the F.D.A. from allowing generic versions of its drug, Opana, to go on sale in January. A recent effort by some doctors and local officials in Canada to deter sales of generic versions of OxyContin there fell flat. While companies like Purdue Pharma insist the public’s health is their main concern, others note that producers introduced tamper-resistant versions of their products just as the drugs were about to lose patent protection. In court papers filed in response to Endo’s lawsuit, the F.D.A. described the company’s action as a “thinly veiled attempt to maintain its market share and block generic competition.”
An F.D.A. official, Dr. Douglas C. Throckmorton, said the agency expected to issue guidance this month that would lay out the types of scientific data that drug producers would have to submit to support a claim that an opioid’s design or formulation helped to deter its abuse.
Companies are developing a variety of methods to do that. The new OxyContin pill turns into a gummy mass when an abuser crushes it, and the Opana pill is designed to break into large pieces when manipulated. Other methods include pills that contain a second drug reversing the opioid’s narcotic effects if taken inappropriately.
“We understand the value in developing appropriate abuse-resistant technology and we want to find a way of incentivizing that,” said Dr. Throckmorton, the F.D.A.’s deputy director for regulatory programs. “But we also understand the value of generics for patients.”
A study published in 2012 in a medical journal, The Journal of Pain, found that the percentage of people treated at drug-abuse clinics who reported abusing OxyContin fell significantly since the introduction of the tamper-resistant version.
Some of those abusers said they had switched to other long-acting opioids that were easier to abuse like Opana — before its reformulation — or to illicit drugs like heroin, according to the study, which was financed by Purdue Pharma.
But the generic versions of OxyContin and Opana are expected to be significantly cheaper than the tamper-resistant versions of those drugs. At time of introduction in late 2010, the price of the new version of OxyContin was about $6 per 40 milligram tablet, the same then as the price that was not tamper-resistant. Since then, the price of the new version has risen to about $6.80 for that strength tablet. Opana costs about the same amount for a pill of the same pain-killing strength.
Post Polio Litaff, Association A.C _APPLAC Mexico

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