Posts Tagged ‘infectious-disease’

Global Emergency – A Conversation with Henry Boom

April 26, 2010
Global Emergency :: Conversation with Dr Henry Boom about TB
Q: What is TB and how does it spread?
A: TB is a bacterial infectious disease that has long plagued humans— it commonly affects the lungs and if untreated, is fatal. One-third of the world’s population, about two billion individuals, is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes the disease, although only one in ten of these latent infections will advance to an active case of TB. It is spread person-to-person by droplets expelled from the lungs by coughing, sneezing, or speaking.

Q: Why is it viewed as a disease of poverty?
A: The threat of TB is greater in the world’s poorest communities because crowded and substandard living conditions increase the risk of contagious infection. In addition, there are often inadequate health systems, limiting access to care, therapeutics, and diagnostics.

Q: Individuals with HIV/AIDS are also at greater risk. Why?
A: Because TB is an opportunistic infection, HIV/AIDS patients with weakened immune systems are more susceptible. In fact, TB is the leading infectious killer of people with HIV/AIDS—and so while they are two diseases, they can often attack as if they were one.

Q: If one in three people carry the disease, why do only some develop an active case of TB?
A: Trying to understand the immune response to TB is a primary focus of our research. Other matters we are examining include better understanding of how the infection is transmitted, why the TB vaccine that is used worldwide to protect newborn and very young children is ineffective in prevention for adolescents and adults, and why there are different rates of patient response to drug treatment of the disease.

Q: Why is a disease that was once deemed conquered on the rise again?
A: Each year there are nearly nine million new TB cases and two million deaths worldwide. While 80% of the cases occur in only 22 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia, it is still a global emergency. The two major factors contributing to the growing incidence of the disease are the surge of drug-resistant strains of TB and its deadly synergy with the AIDS/HIV epidemic.

Q: Is the ultimate goal of TB research to find new vaccines?
A: The world certainly needs new vaccines to combat the problem of TB—and during the last 20 years, great progress has been made in areas essential for new vaccine development, including important work here at Case Western Reserve. In the nearer term, we must discover better screening methods to identify patients in the earlier stages of disease, treatment regimens that are more effective and easier to complete than current options, and drug combinations that treat TB without negatively affecting HIV treatment.

Learn more about Dr Boom at

Posted via email from CWRUmedicine’s blog

Dr. Louis Rice discusses the rise of unstoppable germs

March 10, 2010

Drug options are dwindling for doctors to treat certain types of infection.

The biggest challenges come from evolution, science and economic factors that hinder the technology behind drug development.

Dr. Louis Rice, Chief of the medical service at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center and professor at Case Western Reserve University discusses the growing threat of antibiotics.

Listen to the podcast at

NY Times :: ID expert, Dr Louis Rice, discusses Rising Threat of Infections Unfazed by Antibiotics

February 28, 2010

A minor-league pitcher in his younger days, Richard Armbruster kept playing baseball recreationally into his 70s, until his right hip started bothering him. Last February he went to a St. Louis hospital for what was to be a routine hip replacement.

By late March, Mr. Armbruster, then 78, was dead. After a series of postsurgical complications, the final blow was a bloodstream infection that sent him into shock and resisted treatment with antibiotics.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think my dad would walk in for a hip replacement and be dead two months later,” said Amy Fix, one of his daughters.

Not until the day Mr. Armbruster died did a laboratory culture identify the organism that had infected him: Acinetobacter baumannii.

The germ is one of a category of bacteria that by some estimates are already killing tens of thousands of hospital patients each year. While the organisms do not receive as much attention as the one known as MRSA — for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — some infectious-disease specialists say they could emerge as a bigger threat.

That is because there are several drugs, including some approved in the last few years, that can treat MRSA. But for a combination of business reasons and scientific challenges, the pharmaceuticals industry is pursuing very few drugs for Acinetobacter and other organisms of its type, known as Gram-negative bacteria. Meanwhile, the germs are evolving and becoming ever more immune to existing antibiotics.

In many respects it’s far worse than MRSA,” said Dr. Louis B. Rice, an infectious-disease specialist at the Louis Stokes Cleveland V.A. Medical Center and at Case Western Reserve University. “There are strains out there, and they are becoming more and more common, that are resistant to virtually every antibiotic we have.”