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Archive - May 14, 2013

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Rotavirus Vaccine Developed in India Demonstrates Strong Efficacy

The Government of India's Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Bharat Biotech announced positive results from a Phase III clinical trial of a rotavirus vaccine developed and manufactured in India. Data from the trial, presented on May 14, 2013 at the International Symposium on Rotavirus Vaccines for India—The Evidence and the Promise, showed ROTAVAC® to have an excellent safety and efficacy profile. The clinical study demonstrates for the first time that the India-developed rotavirus vaccine ROTAVAC® is efficacious in preventing severe rotavirus diarrhea in low-resource settings in India. ROTAVAC® significantly reduced severe rotavirus diarrhea by more than half—56 percent during the first year of life, with protection continuing into the second year of life. Moreover, the vaccine also showed impact against severe diarrhea of any cause. "This is an important scientific breakthrough against rotavirus infections, the most severe and lethal cause of childhood diarrhea, responsible for approximately 100,000 deaths of small children in India each year," said DBT Secretary Dr K. Vijay Raghavan. "The clinical results indicate that the vaccine, if licensed, could save the lives of thousands of children each year in India." The vaccine was developed through a unique social innovation partnership that brought together the experience and expertise of Indian and international researchers as well as the public and private sectors. The vaccine originated from an attenuated strain of rotavirus that was isolated from an Indian child at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi in 1985-86. Since then, partners have included DBT, Bharat Biotech, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Stanford University School of Medicine, and the nongovernmental organization, PATH.

Mouse Study Suggests Blood Protein May Contribute to Atherosclerosis

On May 10, 2013, the Journal of the American Heart Association published, online, the conclusive results from a study directed by Dr. Éric Thorin of the Montreal Heart Institute (MHI), which suggests for the first time that a blood protein contributes to the early development of atherosclerosis. Dr. Thorin, his team, and his collaborators discovered that the blood levels of angiopoietin-like protein 2 (angptl2) are six times higher in subjects with coronary heart disease than in healthy subjects of the same age. Their basic research study also revealed that angptl2, which is undetectable in young mice, increases with age in healthy subjects and increases prematurely in subjects who have high cholesterol and pre-atherosclerotic lesions. This study was conducted using an animal model consisting of three- to twelve-month-old mice. These results represent a major advance in the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis. "Although much work remains to be done to broaden our knowledge of this protein's mechanisms of action, angiopoietin-like protein 2 may represent an early biomarker not only to prevent vascular damage, but also to predict atherosclerotic disease," explained Dr. Thorin. For 15 years, Dr. Thorin, a researcher at the MHI Research Centre and full professor at Université de Montréal, has been interested in the evolution of artery function during the aging process and in the underlying mechanisms of atherosclerosis. More specifically, over the past five years, he has looked at the role of this particular protein. Thanks to his work, we now know that angptl2 causes a high degree of vascular inflammation.

“Coffee Ring Effect” Counteracted by Bacterial Surfactants

Ever notice how a dried coffee stain has a thicker outer rim, while the middle of the stain remains almost unsoiled? This “coffee ring effect” also occurs in other materials. Researchers from the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry at KU Leuven in Belgium have now discovered how to counteract coffee rings with “surfactants,” i.e., soap. The key to the discovery was not a kitchen towel, but a bacterium that counteracts the coffee ring effect at the microscopic level. The findings were published on April 23, 2013 in an open-access article in Nature Communications. When a coffee ring dries, its edges become noticeably darker and thicker. This occurs because the coffee particles move toward the edge of the stain while the water in the liquid evaporates. At a microscopic level, this coffee ring effect can also be seen in liquids with particles of other materials such as plastic and wood. In various industrial applications – applying an even coat of paint or varnish, for example – the coffee ring effect can be particularly troublesome and scientists have long been seeking ways to counteract it. Dr. Raf De Dier and Dr. Wouter Sempels (Departments of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry) have now described a solution based on examples found in nature. Drs. De Dier and Sempels carried out experiments and calculations on nanomaterials, as well as on a particularly promising bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a dangerous bacterium that can cause infections in open wounds. “A Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria colony wants to find as large a breeding ground as possible.