Edinburgh Infectious Diseases
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Research focus: from apes to organoids

We explore publication highlights from across Edinburgh Infectious Diseases, Feb 2023.

Malaria infections in wild African apes

Endangered wild African apes get malaria, just like humans. This collaborative study sheds light on how bonobos, a type of ape, respond to malaria. The results show malaria infected bonobo populations have a higher frequency of an immune variant that likely protects against developing severe disease, a pattern that mirrors what is observed among human populations.

Read more here: Malaria-driven adaptation of MHC class I in wild bonobo populations

Drug delivery systems to target gut infections

Two studies highlight the potential use of bacteriophages in delivering antimicrobials to fight intestinal infections. Bacteriophages are a type of virus that can be reprogrammed to selectively target and kill specific species of bacteria for therapeutic purposes, by infecting bacteria and replicating within them. Bacteriophages have been used in place of antibiotics, due to their much lower propensity for promoting antimicrobial resistance.

Read Here: P1 Bacteriophage-Enabled Delivery of CRISPR-Cas9 Antimicrobial Activity Against Shigella flexneri

Read here: Tail-Engineered Phage P2 Enables Delivery of Antimicrobials into Multiple Gut Pathogens

Improving in vitro disease models using microsensors

Using microsensors, researchers were able to measure local pH in human airway organoid cultures, complex three-dimensional structures designed to mimic lung structures.  These organoid systems can be used as disease models, however probing their biochemistry can be challenging. Enabling cellular pH measurements within these systems improve their potential to report on a variety of biological responses such as metabolic activity and immune response.

Read here: SERS microsensors for pH measurements in the lumen and ECM of stem cell derived human airway organoids

Health in global biodiversity: what is next?

Learn more about the interdisciplinary work needed to take an inclusive approach to respecting planetary boundaries and prioritising the environmental determinants of health.

Read here: Health in global biodiversity governance: what is next?

Comorbidities, multimorbidity and Covid-19

Review discusses the effect of the presence of pre-existing diseases (comorbidities) on the three mechanistically distinct phases of COVID-19. Also examined, was the effect of the presence of two or more long-term diseases (multimorbidity), in modifying COVID-19 severity and outcomes. The authors evaluate the evidence in the context of confounding factors and our evolving understanding of the disease.

Read here: Comorbidities, multimorbidity and COVID-19

Validating cervical cancer screening tests

High risk human papillomavirus (HPV) may cause abnormal cells to develop in the cervix and is found in over 99% of all cervical cancers. Screening for HPV is a highly effective way to prevent cervical cancer, however not all HPV tests can be used in cervical cancer screening. They need to be validated according to consensus criteria. In this study, authors validate the Papilloplex high risk human (hrHPV) test, a single tube real-time HPV test which provides multiplex detection and separate identification of 14 hrHPV types.

Read here: Papilloplex HR-HPV test has non-inferior clinical performance for detection of human papillomavirus infection: assessment using the VALGENT framework

Detecting respiratory syncytial virus

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common virus that usually causes cold-like symptoms, but can become serious, particularly in infants and older adults. With rising cases of RSV, the need to accurately detect and quantify the presence of RSV has become increasingly important. The world health organisation (WHO) Surveillance Laboratory Group assess the quality of detecting and typing respiratory syncytial virus in laboratories across 26 countries.

Read here: Results from the second WHO external quality assessment for the molecular detection of respiratory syncytial virus, 2019-2020