One Health Publications

Engineered antibodies to combat viral threats

December 3, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages globally, interest in antiviral treatments has never been higher. Antibodies are key defence components, and engineering them to better exploit their natural functions might boost therapeutic options.

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages globally, interest in antiviral treatments has never been higher. Antibodies are key defence components, and engineering them to better exploit their natural functions might boost therapeutic options.

The use of antibodies to combat human disease dates back to the 1890s. At that time, the physiologist Emil von Behring used blood extracts from rabbits infected with the bacterium that causes diphtheria to tackle that infection. It was discovered only later that antibodies targeting the bacterium were the active ingredient. Amazingly, such serum therapy is still practised today. For example, blood (described as convalescent plasma) donated by people who have recovered from COVID-19, which contains antibodies targeting the SARS-CoV-2 virus, is used as a treatment for people with coronavirus infection. Writing in Nature, Bournazos et al.1 report progress in efforts to aid antiviral responses by engineering human antibodies to enhance their antiviral activity.

Antibodies are a key component of what is called the adaptive branch of the immune system. They can recognize a part of a foreign molecule called an antigen and mobilize various immune processes to neutralize the threat posed by the disease-causing agent. From the work in this area since von Behring’s discovery, punctuated by multiple Nobel prizes, we have learnt much about the regulation, structure and function of antibodies, and their use in the clinic has grown exponentially (see go.nature.com/3kltoq7) . Nevertheless, efforts to manipulate, engineer and improve antibodies remain highly topical. 

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Cracking the cell access code for the deadly virus Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus (VEEV)

December 3, 2020

The discovery that the receptor protein LDLRAD3 is essential for infection of human cells by Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus could inform strategies to combat this potentially lethal infection.

When viruses jump from animals to humans, disease outbreaks can follow. A striking example is Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV). This virus causes sporadic disease outbreaks in horses in Latin America that frequently spill over into humans, resulting in often-deadly neurological disease1. Because of its pathogenicity in livestock and humans, VEEV has been studied as a biological weapon by several countries, including the United States2. Treatments for the disease are therefore highly desirable. It has been unknown how VEEV co-opts cellular pathways to establish infection in people — in particular, which host receptor protein allows VEEV to cross the cell membrane and initiate its replication cycle. Writing in Nature, Ma et al.3 describe the long-sought receptor for VEEV, and show that it is essential for viral replication in both human cells and mouse models. 

 

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The life-cycle of Toxoplasma gondii reviewed using animations

November 30, 2020

Abstract

“Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite that is the causative agent of toxoplasmosis, an infection with high prevalence worldwide. Most of the infected individuals are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, but T. gondii can cause severe neurologic damage and even death of the fetus when acquired during pregnancy. It is also a serious condition in immunodeficient patients. The life-cycle of T. gondii is complex, with more than one infective form and several transmission pathways. In two animated videos, we describe the main aspects of this cycle, raising questions about poorly or unknown issues of T. gondii biology. Original plates, based on electron microscope observations, are also available for teachers, students and researchers. The main goal of this review is to provide a source of learning on the fundamental aspects of T. gondii biology to students and teachers contributing for better knowledge and control on this important parasite, and unique cell model. In addition, drawings and videos point to still unclear aspects of T. gondii lytic cycle that may stimulate further studies.

Background

Toxoplasma gondii is the causative agent of toxoplasmosis that is a zoonosis of significant medical and veterinary importance and is transmitted by several pathways. Marked advances regarding the control of several infectious diseases caused by parasitic protozoa have taken place in the last decades, especially those that spend part of their life-cycle inside host cells. Nevertheless, the epidemiological control and development of new chemotherapeutic agents with low toxicity and high specificity continue to constitute great challenges. Some of these diseases are restricted to specific areas of the world, as in the case of Chagas disease.  …”

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Global Task Force to Investigate Origins of COVID-19 Pandemic to “Ensure History Does Not Repeat”

November 30, 2020

“…Recently, EcoHealth Alliance, a global nonprofit working at the intersection of animal, environmental and human health, announced the establishment of an international task force to investigate these questions as part of The Lancet COVID-19 Commission. Dr. Danielle Anderson, scientific director of Duke-NUS Medical School’s Animal Biosafety Level 3 (ABSL3) research facility in Singapore, is among the taskforce’s 12 members, who hail from a diverse set of scientific disciplines and backgrounds, with expertise in One Health, outbreak investigation, virology, lab biosecurity, and disease ecology.”

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COVID-19—Zoonosis or Emerging Infectious Disease?

November 29, 2020

“The World Health Organization defines a zoonosis as any infection naturally transmissible from vertebrate animals to humans. The pandemic of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) caused by SARS-CoV-2 has been classified as a zoonotic disease, however, no animal reservoir has yet been found, so this classification is premature. We propose that COVID-19 should instead be classified an “emerging infectious disease (EID) of probable animal origin.” To explore if COVID-19 infection fits our proposed re-categorization vs. the contemporary definitions of zoonoses, we reviewed current evidence of infection origin and transmission routes of SARS-CoV-2 virus and described this in the context of known zoonoses, EIDs and “spill-over” events. Although the initial one hundred COVID-19 patients were presumably exposed to the virus at a seafood Market in China, and despite the fact that 33 of 585 swab samples collected from surfaces and cages in the market tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, no virus was isolated directly from animals and no animal reservoir was detected. Elsewhere, SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in animals including domesticated cats, dogs, and ferrets, as well as captive-managed mink, lions, tigers, deer, and mice confirming zooanthroponosis. Other than circumstantial evidence of zoonotic cases in mink farms in the Netherlands, no cases of natural transmission from wild or domesticated animals have been confirmed. More than 40 million human COVID-19 infections reported appear to be exclusively through human-human transmission. SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19 do not meet the WHO definition of zoonoses. We suggest SARS-CoV-2 should be re-classified as an EID of probable animal origin. …”

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Health Illiteracy – Why a Silent Epidemic Needs a “One Health” Approach

November 27, 2020

 

“…If we are all going to get ahead of future “Silent Epidemics”, it must be done with the active and sustained collaboration of veterinarians, physicians, environment specialists and other health scientists—in short, we all need a One Health approach, and now is the right time to make it happen.”

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The University of Nebraska Medical Center (USA) receives grant to study infectious diseases originating from animals

November 26, 2020

” … UNMC participates in Nebraska One Health, a University of Nebraska consortium which brings together people with diverse backgrounds, skills and perspectives to improve the health of humans, animals (wild and domestic) and plants.

David Brett-Major, MD, MPH, is the principal investigator for UNMC.

Dr. Brett-Major, an infectious diseases physician, clinical scientist and medical epidemiologist, said the Nebraska team will provide technical advice on emerging infectious diseases. Particular attention will be given to how animal and human health systems interact as well as provide guidance on managing high consequence disease events such as a pandemic-threat outbreak. …”

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Rebuilding Trust and Compassion in a Covid-19 World

November 25, 2020

‘The greatest challenge in our path to building more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies, underscored in Survival: One Health, One Planet, One Future, lies with making a fundamental paradigm or mindshift  from seeing the world through a strictly  human-centric lens to taking a wider more inclusive eco-centric view – ensuring the needs of humans are compatible with the needs of our ecosystems.’

By George Lueddeke PhD

Chair, International One Health for One Planet Education Initiative (1 HOPE)

 

 

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Coronaviruses closely related to the pandemic virus discovered in Japan and Cambodia

November 23, 2020

“The viruses, both found in bats stored in laboratory freezers, are the first SARS-CoV-2 relatives to be found outside China.”

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Global leaders advocate urgent action on antimicrobial resistance

November 23, 2020

As the antimicrobial resistance crisis accelerates across the globe, world leaders are advocating for urgent action to combat the problem.

The leaders, including the heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the World Health Organization (WHO), have now launched the new One Health Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, which aims to catalyse global attention and action to preserve antimicrobial medicines and help to avert the consequences of antimicrobial resistance.

Members of the new One Health Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance include heads of government, government ministers, leaders from the private sector and civil society, and is co-chaired by their Excellencies Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, and Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

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The mink link: How COVID-19 mutations in animals affect human health and vaccine effectiveness

November 23, 2020

“… Unless future evidence suggests otherwise, it may be best to stay the course with current vaccine development programs with the goal of getting multiple technological platforms approved for use in humans. Then these platforms can be readily modified, akin to the annual influenza vaccine, to target emerging mutant viruses, if warranted.

Simultaneously, public health agencies with any interest in promoting human health should expand their visions to include the health and surveillance of domestic animals and wildlife at the point where human and veterinary medicine interface.

In the case of SARS-CoV-2, humans are currently the largest reservoir of the virus on Earth, and the threat of spillover from human hosts to farmed animals and wildlife species is now made evident. This is an opportune time to take stock in our relationships with animals and the natural world and take action to ensure health for all and this biosphere we share.”

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Roderico H Ofrin, WHO India’s representative, discusses the role played by his organisation in tackling antimicrobial resistance in India

November 22, 2020

WHO India’s representative, Roderico H Ofrin talks about the UN organisation’s role in the containing antimicrobial resistance or AMR in India. He talks about the challenges in implementing the One Health Action programme in India and the way forward.

Interview with Roderico H Ofrin, WHO Representative for India on AMR and One-health Action (downtoearth.org.in)

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Minister McConalogue launches Code of Good Practice for Responsible Use of Antimicrobials on Suckler and Beef farms on European Antibiotic Awareness day

November 20, 2020

Published on Wednesday 18th November 2020

“ … The Minister acknowledged that all stakeholders have an important role in addressing this One Health issue, and as part of today’s launch he particularly wanted to thank the extensive work and collaboration between the Irish Farmers Association, Veterinary Ireland and Teagasc. …”

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What does ‘One Health’ mean?

The ‘One Health’ concept is a worldwide strategy for expanding interdisciplinary collaborations and communications in all aspects of health care for humans, animals and the environment.  Recognising that human health, animal health and ecosystem health are inextricably linked, ‘One Health’ seeks to promote, improve and defend the health and well-being of all species by enhancing cooperation and collaboration between physicians, veterinarians, other scientific health and environmental professionals and by promoting strengths in leadership and management to achieve these goals.  [see https://www.archive.onehealthinitiative.com/mission.php]

 

 

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A one-health approach to prevent COVID-21, COVID-22 and other future pandemics

November 18, 2020

“While still in the grips of a global pandemic, it has become painfully apparent that addressing the complex interactions of human, animal, and environmental health needs multilateral and national adoption of a fully integrated One Health approach …”

 

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