20090618-6

Statement by WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan
17 June 2009 

WHO welcomes Sanofi-Pasteur’s donation of vaccine

Sanofi-Pasteur to donate 100 million doses of influenza H1N1 vaccine to WHO

“We welcome this very generous gesture by Sanofi-Pasteur. One hundred million doses of vaccine against the pandemic H1N1 2009 virus is a sizeable and generous gesture to and on behalf of the world’s less-developed countries. WHO will now work to ensure that this vaccine gets to groups who otherwise would have no access to pandemic vaccines.

“It is gratifying that vaccine manufacturers are demonstrating their solidarity with WHO in protecting the health of the world’s poorer people: influenza knows no boundaries and so to protect people in one country is to protect us all.”

Sanofi-Pasteur made its announcement of the donation of 100 million doses of vaccine at the Pacific Health Summit in Seattle, USA. WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan will be speaking there tomorrow.

20090618-5

Dr Adair Richards. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Warwick) 

University of Warwick (2009, June 17). New Antibiotics Could Come From A DNA Binding Compound That Kills Bacteria In 2 Minutes. ScienceDaily  –  A synthetic DNA binding compound has proved surprisingly effective at binding to the DNA of bacteria and killing all the bacteria it touched within two minutes. The DNA binding properties of the compound were first discovered in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick by Professor Mike Hannon and Professor Alison Rodger (Professor Mike Hannon is now at the University of Birmingham). However the strength of its antibiotic powers have now made it a compound of high interest for University of Warwick researchers working on the development of novel antibiotics.

Dr Adair Richards from the University of Warwick said: “This research will assist the design of new compounds that can attack bacteria in a highly effective way which gets around the methods bacteria have developed to resist our current antibacterial drugs. As this antibiotic compound operates by targeting DNA, it should avoid all current resistance mechanisms of multi-resistant bacteria such as MRSA.” 

The compound [Fe2L3]4+ is an iron triple helicate with three organic strands wrapped around two iron centres to give a helix which looks cylindrical in shape and neatly fits within the major groove of a DNA helix. It is about the same size as the parts of a protein that recognise and bind with particular sequences of DNA. The high positive charge of the compound enhances its ability to bind to DNA which is negatively charged. 

When the iron-helicate binds to the major groove of DNA it coils the DNA so that it is no longer available to bind to anything else and is not able to drive biological or chemical processes. Initially the researchers focused on the application of this useful property for targeting the DNA of cancer cells as it could bind to, coil up and shut down the cancer cell’s DNA either killing the cell or stopping it replicate. However the team quickly realised that it might also be a very clever way of targeting drug-resistant bacteria.

New research at the University of Warwick, led by Dr Adair Richards and Dr Albert Bolhuis, has now found that the [Fe2L3]4+ does indeed have a powerful effect on bacteria. When introduced to two test bacteria Bacillus subtilis and E. coli they found that it quickly bound to the bacteria’s DNA and killed virtually every cell within two minutes of being introduced – though the concentration required for this is high. 

Professor Alison Rodger, Professor of Biophysical Chemistry at the University of Warwick, said: “We were surprised at how quickly this compound killed bacteria and these results make this compound a key lead compound for researchers working on the development of novel antibiotics to target drug resistant bacteria.”

The researchers will next try and understand how and why the compound can cross the bacteria cell wall and membranes. They plan to test a wide range of compounds to look for relatives of the iron helicate that have the same mechanism for action in collaboration with researchers around the world.


Journal reference:

Richards et al. Antimicrobial activity of an iron triple helicate. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, 2009; 33 (5): 469 DOI: 10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2008.10.031

Canadian Medical Association Journal  —  Infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridium difficile (C.difficile) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus, are usually associated with in-patient settings; however, the potential for infection in out-patient clinics and offices exists. A review in the Canadian Medical Association Journal outlines infection control strategies for these settings to help minimize transmission of these potentially deadly pathogens.

“The recent emergence of community-associated MRSA, vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus and C.difficile among patients with no known predisposing factors has increased the potential for offices and clinics to become silent reservoirs of these pathogens,” write Dr. Anne Matlow and coauthor from the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and the University of Toronto.

Hygiene, education and cleaning of physical environments are important for infection control. Careful prescribing of antibiotics is also key.

Health care workers are the main mode of transmission and should be the primary target of prevention strategies which include hand washing with alcohol-based hand rubs or soap and water – the most essential part of infection control. Additional precautions, such as gown and gloves, should be used in caring for patients with diarrhea, cystic fibrosis or draining wounds.

A multipronged approach, including policies and guidelines for identifying and managing infected patients, access to personal protective equipment and hand sanitizers or soap and water is required to prevent transmission.

“Since most cases of transmission in ambulatory care are a result of deficient infection-control practices, strict adherence to recommendations is paramount,” write the authors.

20090618-4

Molecules with specific properties can be designed using molecular modeling techniques 

University of Leicester (2009, June 13). ‘Designer Molecules’ Being Developed To Fight Disease. ScienceDaily  –  Researchers in the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences at the University of Leicester are developing a new way to make protein based drugs with potential applications in stroke, vascular inflammation, blood vessel formation, regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. 

The research carried out by Shikha Sharma in Dr Nick Brindle’s group in Department of Cardiovascular Sciences aims to allow researchers to rapidly make ‘designer proteins’ that can bind to disease causing molecules in the body. 

Shikha Sharma said “There are millions of different proteins that are involved in carrying out numerous functions in the human body. Over time each protein has evolved to optimise its function. Disease could result if any of these fail to perform efficiently.” 

“By generating designer proteins in test tubes, we can produce molecules that have specific actions to control processes in the body. These proteins can be used to make drugs as a treatment for heart disease and cancer.” 

She said: “Whilst most drugs in current use are synthetic, these designer molecules are developed from natural proteins and are likely to have fewer side effects. Proteins perform a well defined but complex set of function in the body and protein therapeutic drugs can perform better when compared to some synthetic small molecule drugs that may have unwanted interactions within the body.” 

“Current methods to generate protein therapeutic are cumbersome and time consuming. At the University of Leicester, we have developed a novel method to revolutionise the way in which we produce these designer protein drugs. In principle this method mimics natural evolution to make new proteins but over a shorter timescale. Instead of taking millions of years, we can create new proteins in just a few weeks.” 

She said: “The fact that this new method utilizes a similar mechanism by which antibodies are generated, suggests the output from this method will be as robust and dynamic as the wide range of antibodies produced in our bodies to fight the rapidly evolving viruses in the environment.” 

Dr Brindle said: “Shikha has made great progress towards this new method, which holds the promise of new better drugs for a wide range of human and animal disease.”

In addition to medicine, the method holds promise for a wide range of applications in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and agricultural industries, such as generating protein molecules to prevent uptake of toxins in crops or protein molecules for detection of environmental pollutants.

Shikha Sharma will be presenting her research at the Festival of Postgraduate Research which is taking place on June 25 at the University of Leicester.

20090618-3

New Scientist, June 17, 2009, by Kate McAlpine  —   A carbon nanotube that spins in a current of electrons, like a wind turbine in a breeze, could become the world’s smallest printer or shrink computer memory, UK researchers say.

The design is simple. A carbon nanotube 10 nanometres long and 1 nm wide is suspended between two others, its ends nested inside them to form a rotating joint. When a direct current is passed along the tubes, the central one spins around.

That design has as yet only been tested using advanced computer simulations by Colin Lambert and colleagues at Lancaster University, Lancashire, UK.

But Adrian Bachtold of the Catalan Institute for Nanotechnology, who was not involved in the work, intends to build the electron turbines and says it should be straightforward.

Researchers have made or designed a range of small-scale motors in recent years, using everything from DNA to light sensitive molecules to cell-transport proteins .

The Lancaster design is one of the simplest yet. Imagined applications for nanomotors range from shrinking optical communications components to new forms of computer memory.

To read further at New Scientist, click here  http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14111-electron-turbine-could-print-designer-molecules.html

20090618-1

Inspired by nature’s own building blocks, Purdue University researchers are using the same principle that makes DNA strands link together to create tiny structures that may someday be used to manufacture molecular wires and other components for use in nanometer-sized electronic devices.Purdue chemist Hicham Fenniri has created molecules designed to automatically find each other and link to form elaborate but tiny tubes. The new technique allows scientists, for the first time, to use self-assembly techniques to develop nanoscale structures with specific dimensions and chemical properties. 
20090618-2