May 28, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Scientists have found evidence that North American avian influenza viruses of the H7 subtype are becoming more like human flu viruses in their ability to attach to host cells, which suggests they may be improving their capacity to infect humans.The investigators determined that several recent North American H7 viruses have an increased ability to bind to a type of receptor molecule that is abundant on human tracheal cells and is less common in birds. Their results were published this week by the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science.The finding—which comes as the deadly Eurasian H5N1 virus continues to be seen as the likeliest candidate to spark a pandemic—”underscores the necessity for continued surveillance and study of these [North American H7] viruses as they continue to resemble viruses with pandemic potential,” says the report. The study was done by scientists from the US Centers for disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Emory University in Atlanta, and the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif.H7 viruses have caused a number of disease outbreaks in poultry in Europe and North America in recent years, though far fewer than the widespread outbreaks caused by the H5N1 virus. H7 viruses also have occasionally infected humans, typically causing only mild conjunctivitis. But a veterinarian died of an H7N7 infection during the devastating poultry outbreaks in the Netherlands in 2003.Previous research has established that avian flu viruses prefer to link up with cell receptor molecules known as alpha 2-3 glycans, whereas human flu viruses, such as H1N1 and H3N2, prefer to attach to receptors called alpha 2-6. The terms refer to the nature of the link between sialic acid (SA), which forms the tip of the receptor molecule, and galactose, an adjoining sugar unit.Differences in receptor binding, transmissibilityIn the new study, with Jessica A. Belser of the CDC and Emory as first author, investigators examined the binding preferences of H7 viruses by exposing glycan microarrays—receptor molecules laid out in grids on glass slides—to solutions containing the viruses.In addition, they dosed ferrets with H7 viruses and tested whether they became infected and whether the infection spread to other ferrets housed with them. Ferrets are considered the best animal model for studying flu transmission, because the distribution of cell receptor types resembles that in humans.The viruses tested included two highly pathogenic H7N7 isolates from humans infected during the Dutch outbreaks of 2003, three H7N2 isolates from poultry outbreaks and a human case in the eastern United States in 2002 and 2003, and two H7N3 viruses from human conjunctivitis cases linked to a poultry outbreak in British Columbia in 2004.The scientists found that the two Dutch viruses, one of which (called NL/219) came from the fatal human case, showed the typical avian preference for alpha 2-3 glycans. In contrast, the three eastern US isolates showed significantly increased binding to alpha 2-6 receptors. One of these three, which came from a New York state man who was infected in 2003, showed both a sharply increased preference for alpha 2-6 glycans and reduced binding to alpha 2-3 receptors—a characteristic that was also observed in H1, H2, and H3 viruses when they were first introduced into humans, according to the report.The two Canadian isolates also showed an increased preference for alpha 2-6 receptors, compared with the Dutch strains, but it was less marked than that of the eastern US isolates.To study transmission, the researchers inoculated groups of three ferrets with one of six viruses and then caged them with three other ferrets to see if the viruses spread by direct contact. They found that the viruses multiplied in all of the inoculated ferrets, and some showed respiratory signs such as sneezing.However, most of the isolates did not spread efficiently to the other ferrets. The one clear exception was the New York virus, which was transmitted to all three of the previously unexposed ferrets and multiplied to high levels. None of the viruses spread via airborne droplets, as shown by the absence of infection in ferrets that were housed in cages next to the inoculated ferrets.The scientists write that the virus from the New York man showed both “the most dramatic shift in receptor specificity” and the greatest transmissibility in ferrets. However, they also note that an H7N2 chicken virus from Connecticut showed similar receptor preferences but spread by contact to only one of three ferrets.The authors say previous work shows that the preference for alpha 2-6 glycans seems to be essential for transmissibility in existing human flu viruses such as H1N1. But their results, they add, suggest that this characteristic alone is not sufficient to render avian flu viruses transmissible in ferrets, and that reduced binding to alpha 2-3 receptors may be one of the additional requirements.”These results indicate that H7 influenza viruses from the North American lineage have acquired sialic acid–binding properties that more closely resemble those of human influenza viruses and have the potential to spread to naïve animals,” the researchers conclude.A reminder of unpredictabilityInfectious disease expert Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, called the study scientifically “outstanding” and said it is a reminder that it’s impossible to predict which breed of flu virus will evolve into the next pandemic strain. Osterholm is director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of CIDRAP News.”It goes to the point that we don’t know what the next pandemic strain will be,” he said. “However, we’re reminded with the very disturbing data in this paper that it very well could be an H7. The most important message we can take from this is that there will be another pandemic strain that will emerge—tomorrow, next week, next year, whenever, but it’s going to occur.”Dr. Terence Tumpey, senior author of the CDC study, said North American H7 viruses studied since about 2002 generally seem to have shown an increasing affinity for human-type receptors, according to a May 26 Canadian Press (CP) story.”These viruses are partially adapted to recognize the receptors preferred by human influenza viruses, but not completely,” he told CP. “It needs to be adapted further. But I think it shows that potentially these viruses are changing.”David A. Halvorson, DVM, a veterinarian and avian flu expert at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, called the CDC study very interesting but cautioned against concluding that North American H7 viruses in general are becoming more like human-adapted strains, since the study did not include viruses from wild birds.He noted that the three eastern US isolates studied—the New York human virus, the Connecticut chicken isolate, and one from a turkey in Virginia—all showed increased binding to alpha 2-6 glycans, compared with a 1993 H7N1 isolate from North Carolina. The two Canadian isolates showed a lesser increase in alpha 2-6 binding.”The H7 viruses associated with the live poultry markets in New York were first detected in 1994 and remained there until 2006, so when the 2002 and 2003 isolates were obtained they had been circulating in chickens (mostly) for 8 to 10 years,” Havorson said via e-mail. “If we allow (conservatively) one infection cycle per week, that would mean the viruses had been passed 52 times per year or 416 to 520 passages in chickens.”As such they do not generally represent ‘North American isolates of H7,’ which would include hundreds if not thousands of wild bird H7s perhaps more typical of the rhea [North Carolina] isolate. It would be more correct to confine the title, discussion, and conclusions to human isolates of H7 and high-chicken-passage isolates of H7. Those findings are important to our understanding of how avian influenza viruses might become infectious for humans, but the findings do not necessarily apply to North American isolates in general.”Research on H7 vaccinesIn view of the possible threat posed by H7 viruses, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is sponsoring several studies of human H7 vaccines, according to NIAID Director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci.A phase 1-2 clinical trial of a vaccine based on a US H7N7 virus was launched in March, Fauci told CIDRAP News today. The trial, based at Baylor School of Medicine in Houston, involves 125 volunteers who received doses ranging from 7.5 to 90 micrograms of antigen to study the vaccine’s safety and immunogenicity. The egg-based vaccine was made by Sanofi, he said.In addition, the NIAID recently conducted an intramural phase 1 clinical trial of a cold-adapted H7N3 vaccine made from the British Columbian strain, Fauci reported. He said the results show that the vaccine is safe, but the immunogenicity findings are still being analyzed.Fauci said some additional research on H7 vaccines is under way in NIAID labs in Bethesda, Md. “The bottom line is there is stuff going on,” he said.Belser JA, Blixt O, Chen L, et al. Contemporary North American influenza H7 virses possess human receptor specificity: implications virus transmissibility. Proc Nat Acad Sci 2008 May 27;105(21)7558-63 [Full text]See also: Jan 14 CIDRAP News story “Study refines view of H5N1 virus’s binding preferences”
Republicans can try to comfort themselves by arguing that eliminating the mandate is good policy on its own merits, simply allowing consumers who do not want coverage to decline to buy it.But the move would also price people who seek insurance out of the market.Killing the individual mandate would encourage people to forgo buying insurance until they got sick, which would drive up premiums for all those who remain in the system.“The resulting increases in premiums would cause more people to not purchase insurance,” the CBO explained, estimating that premiums would rise an additional 10 percent per year.Repealing the mandate would be the most spectacular instance yet of a GOP action that has the effect of raising Obamacare prices, which the Republicans continually complain are too high.In October, President Donald Trump halted payments the federal government promised insurers in exchange for participating in Obamacare markets, forcing insurance companies to raise premiums to compensate.The Trump Department of Health and Human Services then sabotaged this year’s open enrollment period, which could also result in fewer people covered. Some have tried to do better; a bipartisan group of senators developed a compromise bill that would help stabilize Obamacare markets.But it has not passed.There is talk of marrying this compromise bill with the individual-mandate repeal, but cutting the mandate would do much more harm than the compromise would do good.If Republicans really believe that mandate repeal is good health-care policy, they should seek to pass it on its own, with hearings, markups and debate.But a fair process would only clarify further that the policy is ruinous.Republicans who in July recoiled at an attempt to ram through the Obamacare “skinny repeal” have even less reason to vote for this drastic, ill-considered and last-minute attempt to sneak repeal into a tax bill.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motorists Categories: Editorial, OpinionThe following editorial appeared in The Washington Post.Republican Senators remade their tax bill into an Obamacare repeal bill, announcing Tuesday that they inserted an Obamacare sabotage device into the text.In a stroke, they turned a fiscally irresponsible tax plan into a monumentally unwise piece of social policy that would do much more than widen the deficit.If passed, it would be the most significant health-care shift since the 2010 Affordable Care Act — and in a decidedly negative direction.The Senate GOP’s new bill would eliminate Obamacare’s “individual mandate,” which requires all Americans to get health coverage if they can afford it.Independent health-care analysts and the Congressional Budget Office, Congress’s official scorekeeper, agree that this move would deeply undercut the Obamacare system. The CBO estimated last week that ending the mandate would lead to 13 million more Americans lacking health-care coverage.Yet, for Republicans, the coverage loss is not a regrettable side effect of an otherwise sensible policy. It is the point.Fewer people covered means that the federal government would save money that the treasury would have otherwise spent on their health care, such as by helping them buy healthinsurance or offering them Medicaid — $338 billion over a decade.Republicans want to use that cash to help finance the rest of their tax bill.They could have removed some of the bill’s expensive and unnecessary giveaways to the wealthy, such as its rollback of the estate tax.But they opted instead to raise money by ballooning the ranks of uninsured.
Share Photo credit: rajtamil.comRoseau, Dominica (February 7, 2012): This weekend promises to be an action-packed one for cricket as the Windward Islands face Guyana at the Windsor Park Sports Stadium. The Regional 4-Day Championship continues in Dominica from Friday, February 10 to Monday, February 13, 2012 from 10:00 a.m. daily.West Indies off-spinner and Dominica’s own Shane Shillingford, fresh from claiming six wickets for 75 runs in Jamaica last weekend, will set the pace at the Windsor Park along with Devon Smith who was also in fine form stroking 103 to score his 19th first class century. The 13-man squad will be led by Liam Sebastien (Captain) and comprises Shane Shillingford, Devon Smith, Dalton Polius, Johnson Charles, Lindon James, Keddy Lesporis, Nelon Pascal, Andre Fletcher, Kenroy Peters, Delorn Johnson, Gary Mathurin and Darren Sammy with Lockhart Sebastien (Manager) and Ian Allen (Coach).Emmanuel Nanthan, President of the Dominica Cricket Association (DCA), says, “We encourage everyone to come out and support our Windward Islands Team. This is a great opportunity for families, cricket lovers, sports enthusiasts and, especially, young, aspiring cricketers to see Shane and Liam in action on home soil. This event is all part of the build-up to Dominica’s hosting of the historic Third Test in the Digicel Series 2012 – West Indies v Australia – scheduled to take place here from April 23-27, 2012.There will be a nominal entrance fee to the games. Tickets will be on sale at the gate on each day.Press ReleaseDominica Cricket Association Tweet NewsSports Windwards Face Guyana at Windsor Park this weekend by: – February 7, 2012 Sharing is caring! Share Share 21 Views no discussions
— Hilary Clinton officially endorsed Barack Obama as the Democratic candidate for president.— Jay-Z and Beyonce tied the knot in April.— Brad and Angelina announced they were expecting twins. More: Tiger delivers signature momentSports— Eli Manning and David Tyree created what is possibly the greatest Super Bowl highlight in upsetting the undefeated New England Patriots. Surely that was the end to the Patriot dynasty.— Michael Phelps was still over a month away from winning eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics.— Jimmie Johnson was en route to his third straight NASCAR title.— Jordan Spieth was preparing for his sophomore year of high school.— We were weeks away from a rematch in the NBA Finals of one of history’s greatest rivalries (Celtics vs. Lakers).— Jake Long was the first pick in the NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins.— Steph Curry led Davidson to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.— Brett Favre had just told coach Mike McCarthy that he wanted to return to Green Bay just months after retiring…for the first time.— LeBron was on his first stint with the Cavaliers.News and Pop Culture— “Lollipop” by Lil Wayne was No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100.— “The Incredible Hulk” starring Edward Norton won the weekend box office.— “Breaking Bad” premiered earlier in the year and “The Wire” had its series finale.— In May, Harrison Ford returned to play Indiana Jones at the age of 65.— “Britney Spears” is the most searched topic on the web. Tiger Woods finally returned to glory by winning the 2019 Masters, his fifth green jacket and 15 major championship. Once the most dominant athlete in the world at his craft, it seems like an eternity since the last time he won a major.Rest assured, that eternity was actually almost 11 years ago when Woods defeated Rocco Mediate in an 18-hole playoff to win the U.S. Open. Between his public fallout and four back surgeries, the world has become a different place in just over a decade. Sporting News takes you back to what was going on in the world during that victorious month of June for Woods in 2008.
25 January 2010Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has been honoured with Fifa’s Presidential Award for his role in uniting South Africa ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup and for embodying the spirit of the Beautiful Game.Fifa president Sepp Blatter presented the award to Tutu during Fifa’s Ballon d’Or 2010 soccer awards ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland on 10 January.“I’m staggered … when I was told, I felt deeply humbled and also deeply honoured,” said the 79-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate. “To be recognised in this way is very significant, and I accept this on behalf of the South African people, who really deserve the applause for having hosted such a fantastic World Cup.“It was a fantastic thing; no one could have predicted that South Africans would feel so good about themselves. It was reminiscent of the time when Nelson Mandela was released from prison, or when we first won the Rugby World Cup.”Thabo Makgoba, the current Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, congratulated Tutu, saying: “We are so proud of him. Once again he has shown how, in any and every context, he is able to continue to play a reconciling role in his public ministry, in this country, on this continent, and throughout the world.”Tutu also played an integral role in bringing the 2010 World Cup to South Africa by joining a delegation that went to the Caribbean in 2005 to convince that region’s football federation boss, Jack Warner, to vote for South Africa in the 2010 bid. Tutu was joined on this trip by fellow Nobel laureates Nelson Mandela and FW De Klerk, who preceded Mandela as president of South Africa.The exuberant archbishopIn 1978, Tutu was appointed the first black general secretary of the South African Council of Churches. A few years later, in 1986, he was elected Archbishop of Cape Town, also being the first black person in the country to assume such a post.He has used his high profile to campaign for human rights and, previously, to fight apartheid in South Africa.Following the deadly Soweto riots of 1976, during which black school pupils took to the streets en masse to protest against being taught in Afrikaans, Tutu supported an economic boycott of South Africa.International companies soon started pulling out of the country and the rand’s value plummeted – this put heavy pressure on the government of the time to consider reforming the apartheid system.Tutu also coined the phrase “Rainbow Nation”, which became a metaphor for South African society following the first democratic elections in 1994. The term has been so widely used since then, it has become ingrained in the South African psyche.He is also regarded as a figurehead always ready to congratulate, critique and condemn the ruling government.Former president Nelson Mandela once said: “Sometimes strident, often tender, never afraid and seldom without humour, Desmond Tutu’s voice will always be the voice of the voiceless.”Tutu has won various awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism in 1986, the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2005, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.The Nobel laureate retired from public life in October 2010 at the age of 79. He said: “Instead of growing old gracefully, at home with my family – reading, writing, praying and thinking – too much of my time has been spent at airports and in hotels.“The time has now come to slow down, to sip rooibos tea with my beloved wife in the afternoons, to watch cricket, to travel to visit my children and grandchildren, rather than to be at conferences, conventions and university campuses.”First published by MediaClubSouthAfrica.com – get free high-resolution photos and professional feature articles from Brand South Africa’s media service.