IPE Views: Can Europe win the dengue race?

first_imgJoseph Mariathasan explores the impact of – and possible solution to – the growing dengue epidemicSummer is approaching, and as thoughts for many turn to what preparations may be required for holidays in the sun, travellers to tropical regions may be looking at stocking up on malaria tablets. These can, in some cases, have rather nasty side effects, but those travelling to Sri Lanka, for example, may not need to bother, as it may become the first-ever tropical country to eliminate malaria officially (if no one is reported with it by October this year).However, whilst malaria may be absent in Sri Lanka, and anti-malaria tablets can, if required, be taken for travel elsewhere, there is another mosquito-borne disease – dengue – that travellers need to be aware of. It causes a severe flu-like illness and can sometimes lead to a potentially lethal complication called dengue haemorrhagic fever. The WHO finds that Central and South America, South-East Asia and the Western Pacific are the most seriously affected regions in the world. What that means is that some 2.5bn people – two-fifths of the world’s population – are now at risk of acquiring dengue. That includes countries such as Brazil, currently preparing for the 2016 Olympics, and popular tourist destinations such as Thailand, with upwards of 25m visitors a year.Estimates of people getting dengue each year are very unreliable, as the symptoms are easily confused with flu and in many cases may be very mild and, as such, unreported. Why dengue is becoming a serious burden for countries is that, according to WHO, up to 50m infections occur annually, with 500,000 cases of dengue haemorrhagic fever and 22,000 deaths, mainly among children. Prior to 1970, only nine countries had experienced cases of dengue haemorrhagic fever. Since then, the number has increased more than fourfold and continues to rise. Some academics have estimated actual dengue cases are probably closer to 400m a year, and there are approaching 100m that have pronounced symptoms. Others have estimated that dengue is now becoming more dangerous than malaria in terms of economic impact and morbidity. Whilst dengue is becoming a major global health issue, there may also be a solution, or rather, a number of solutions. Vaccines are currently being developed by a number of companies, and clinical trials are well under way. The illness itself is caused by one of four variations (serotypes) of a virus. Catching one serotype gives a person immunity for life to that specific serotype. However, it also appears to raise the chances of complications if there is a subsequent infection by a different serotype, and that can result in dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal. Therefore, any vaccine has to be effective against all four serotypes to give complete immunity.Given dengue’s economic impact, it is unsurprising there is a race to develop a dengue vaccine. Whoever succeeds will potentially save countless lives and alleviate much misery but also profit from an immense market opportunity. What is encouraging for everyone, including investors, is that there does appear to be a real chance of success within the next year or two. Currently, Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of French pharmaceutical company Sanofi, has received a fair amount of attention because it has announced results for clinical trials of a vaccine that shows an overall efficacy against any symptomatic dengue disease of 60.8% in children and adolescents.Whilst this may not sound like a solution, it reported a 95.5% protection against severe dengue and an 80.3% reduction in the risk of hospitalisation during the study. Sanofi Pasteur itself is so confident of its vaccine that it has built a new vaccine-manufacturing facility in France with the objective of reducing the time necessary to provide access to the vaccine once it is licensed. It became operational in 2014 with a production capacity of 100m doses of the vaccine per year. Sanofi, though, is not the only firm working on vaccines. It is highly likely that, within the next year or two, there will be announcements of breakthroughs by firms such as Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical, which is undertaking phase-III clinical trials in Sri Lanka and four other Asian countries. The race for a successful dengue virus is well and truly under way.Joseph Mariathasan is a contributing editor at IPElast_img read more

Men’s basketball: Wisconsin handles Penn State, prepares for Minnesota Saturday

first_imgDespite a second-half comeback attempt by Penn State, the No. 5 Wisconsin men’s basketball team outlasted the Nittany Lions in State College, Pennsylvania Wednesday night 55-47 to capture its ninth straight victory.Wisconsin (24-2, 12-1 Big Ten) was led by junior forward Sam Dekker, who had a team-best and season-best 22 points on 9 of 13 shooting (3-for-6 from three) Wednesday along with five rebounds. Senior forward Frank Kaminsky was the only other UW player in double figures with 16 points and nine rebounds.The Badgers took a 31-24 lead into halftime over Penn State (15-12, 3-11 Big Ten) and extended that lead to 16, 46-30, with eight minutes and 52 seconds left in the second half. Earlier in the half, the Nittany Lions went on a more than six-minute scoring drought, staying at 26 points and helping Wisconsin extend its lead.But from there Penn State responded with a 13-3 run that pulled them within six at 49-43 with a little over three minutes left in the game.However, Wisconsin made its free throws from that point on to leave State College with a win and a program-best 24-2 overall record.Penn State guard D.J. Newbill, who entered the game as the Big Ten’s leading scorer, had a game-high 29 points and was the only Nittany Lion to score over seven points.Wisconsin sophomore forward Nigel Hayes hauled in a game-high 13 rebounds along with nine points.Neither team shot particularly well, as Wisconsin was just 20-for-51 (39.2 percent) while Penn State went 21-for-54 (38.9 percent) from the floor. Both teams struggled from beyond the arc, as well, with Wisconsin shooting just 22.7 percent (5-for-22) and Penn State shooting only 15.4 percent (2-for-13) from three.The Badgers will now turn their attention to their next game on Saturday against Minnesota (16-11, 5-9 Big Ten) at the Kohl Center.With the regular season coming to a close — Wisconsin has just six games left until the Big Ten tournament and postseason play begins — the Badgers can finally start to look toward clinching their first regular season conference championship since 2008. As of Wednesday night, the Badgers have a three game lead over three teams (No. 16 Maryland, Michigan State and Purdue) in the Big Ten conference standings.It is possible for the Badgers to clinch at least a share of the Big Ten regular season Saturday. If Wisconsin can defeat the Gophers at the Kohl Center and either Maryland, Michigan State or Purdue loses, the Badgers will clinch a share of the conference title.But first they’ll have to take care of their border rival Saturday. Minnesota fell to Northwestern 72-66 Wednesday night to give them back-to-back losses after falling to Indiana Sunday night. Gopher senior guard Andre Hollins led Minnesota with 12 points, six assists and four rebounds Wednesday.Hollins leads the Minnesota scoring threat, averaging a team-high 15 points to go with 4.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. The 6-foot-2 guard is deadly from deep, making 43.8 percent of his shots from three, which is good for third best in the Big Ten.Wisconsin and Minnesota will square off at 11 a.m. Saturday afternoon at the Kohl Center. The game will be televised on ESPN.Game VitalsNo. 5 Wisconsin (24-2, 12-1 Big Ten)Big Ten: 12-1, 1st place by three games over Maryland, Michigan State and PurdueLast Game: Defeated Penn State on the road, 55-47Probable Starters: G – Bronson Koenig (6-4, 7.5 ppg), G – Josh Gasser (6-4, 7.3 ppg), F – Nigel Hayes (6-8, 12.4 ppg), F – Sam Dekker (6-9, 13.0 ppg), F – Frank Kaminsky (7-0, 17.6 ppg)Key Reserves: G – Zak Showalter, F – Duje Dukan, F – Vitto BrownMinnesota (16-11, 5-9 Big Ten)Big Ten: 5-9, 11th placeLast Game: Lost to Northwestern at home, 72-66Probable Starters: G – DeAndre Mathieu (5-9, 8.3 ppg), G – Andre Hollins (6-2, 15.0 ppg), F – Joey King (6-9, 9.0), F – Charles Buggs (6-9, 3.8), F – Maurice Walker (6-10, 11.7)Key Reserves: G – Nate Mason, G – Carols Morris, C – Elliott EliasonWho – No. 5 Wisconsin vs. MinnesotaWhen – Saturday, Feb. 21, 11 a.m.Where – Kohl Center (17,230); Madison, WisconsinTV – ESPNlast_img read more