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EPIDEMICS
Six experts resign from Trump HIV/AIDS panel
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) June 18, 2017


Bacterial 'hair' study could pave way for new antibiotics
Washington (UPI) Jun 19, 2017 - Scientists have identified the molecular building blocks essential to the formation of hair-like filaments called pili, which bacteria use for a variety of functions.

Researchers say their analysis could pave the way for new antibiotics.

Perhaps most importantly, pili help bacteria latch on and adhere to surfaces. The hairs allow bacteria to colonize parts of the human body, establishing a bacterial infection.

There are several types of pili, but the most universal and multi-fuctnional hairs are type IV pili. Previous studies suggest type IV pili are made up of more than 15 protein building blocks.

But new research suggests only eight are essential to the pili-formation process.

In addition to moving and adhering, pili help bacteria interact with the outside world. They can analyze changes in their medium. The hairs can also grab DNA, which can be used to develop a more potent attack or defense.

In the lab, researchers withheld different proteins from E.coli bacteria to see which combination could be used to form pili. They found a protein subunit called pilin formed the bulk of the filaments. But pilin can only be properly linked together with the help of seven other essential proteins.

"The approach is like building with Lego," Vladimir Pelicic, a molecular biologist at the Imperial College London, said in a news release. "We have these bricks and we were trying to put them back together to see what would be the minimum number of bricks that would allow these filaments to be assembled."

Because pilin filaments are universal among bacteria, antibiotics designed to target and disable their construction and functionality could be used to combat a range of bugs.

"It's reasonable to imagine we could develop these sort of drugs within the next few years," Pelicic said.

Researchers published their analysis of pili construction in the journal PNAS.

Six top health advisors have resigned from Donald Trump's advisory council on HIV/AIDS, complaining that the US president doesn't really care about combatting the illness.

In a letter published Friday in Newsweek, Scott Schoettes said the Trump administration has "no strategy" on AIDS and that he and his five colleagues will be more effective advocating for change from the outside.

Schoettes, counsel and HIV project director at Lambda Legal, resigned Tuesday from the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, along with Lucy Bradley-Springer, Gina Brown, Ulysses Burley III, Michelle Ogle and Grissel Granados.

The council can have up to 25 members.

"The Trump administration has no strategy to address the on-going HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and -- most concerning -- pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease," Schoettes wrote.

"If we do not ensure that US leadership at the executive and legislative levels are informed by experience and expertise, real people will be hurt and some will even die," he said.

"Because we do not believe the Trump administration is listening to -- or cares -- about the communities we serve as members of PACHA, we have decided it is time to step down."

PACHA, which was created in 1995, includes public health officials, researchers, health care providers, faith leavers, HIV advocates and people living with HIV. Its helps inform the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which was last revised in 2015.

Schoettes noted that Trump failed to appoint a head of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, a senior advisory position, and took down the Office of National AIDS Policy website the very day he took office -- on January 20 -- and has yet to replace it.

He also stressed that changes Trump and his fellow Republicans in Congress are seeking to the sweeping health care reform initiated by former president Barack Obama would be "extremely harmful" to people living with HIV or AIDS.

Schoettes cited data showing that only 40 percent of people living with HIV in the United States can access life-saving medications.

EPIDEMICS
Warmer climate threatens malaria spread in Ethiopia
Paris (AFP) June 14, 2017
Cool, high-lying areas of Ethiopia hitherto shielded from heat-loving malaria mosquitoes are increasingly exposed to the disease as the climate warms, researchers said Thursday. Most Ethiopians live in the country's highlands, and have long enjoyed natural protection against mosquitoes carrying the malaria-causing parasites Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax. But the buffered area has be ... read more

Related Links
Epidemics on Earth - Bird Flu, HIV/AIDS, Ebola


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