August 9, 2013

Edmonton researchers help in fight against BSE, chronic wasting disease and other wildlife disease news


Infectious diseases and climate change intersect with no simple answers

Monarch butterflies carry infections in parts of the U.S. where they breed year-round.
Study highlights challenges of predicting disease outcomes in a warming world

Climate change is already affecting the spread of infectious diseases--and human health and biodiversity worldwide--according to disease ecologists reporting research results in this week's issue of the journal Science.

Modeling disease outcomes from host and parasite responses to climate variables, they say, could help public health officials and environmental managers address the challenges posed by the changing landscape of infectious disease.

"Earth's changing climate and the global spread of infectious diseases are threatening human health, agriculture and wildlife," said Sam Scheiner, National Science Foundation (NSF) program director for the joint NSF-National Institutes of Health Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases Program, which funded the research.

"Solving these problems requires a comprehensive approach that unites scientists from biology, the geosciences and the social sciences."

... "The climate signal, in many cases, is hard to tease apart from other factors like vector control, and vaccine and drug availability." In diseases affecting wildlife and agricultural ecosystems, however, findings show that climate warming is already causing changes.

"In many cases, we're seeing an increase in disease and parasitism," Altizer said. "But the effect of climate change on these disease relationships depends on the physiology of the organisms and on the structure of natural communities."

National Science Foundation
01 Aug 2013

Cited Journal Article
S. Altizer, et al. Climate Change and Infectious Diseases: From Evidence to a Predictive Framework. Science, 2013; 341 (6145): 514 DOI: 10.1126/science.1239401

Edmonton researchers help in fight against BSE, chronic wasting disease

Edmonton-based researchers have helped make major strides in identifying how prion proteins interact with antibodies that could be used to stop them from morphing into deadly forms that causes mad cow and chronic wasting disease.

... a professor [Nat Kav] in the university’s department of agricultural food and nutritional science — partnered with Swiss researchers to seek grants to produce antibodies that could be used in prion research.

The research by Kav, James, and their Swiss colleagues eventually evolved into the paper published in Nature.

Edmonton Journal
31 Jul 2013
A Zabjek

Cited Journal Article
T Sonati et al. The toxicity of antiprion antibodies is mediated by the flexible tail of the prion protein. Nature. 2013; [Epub ahead of print 2013 Jul 31]. doi:10.1038/nature12402

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