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PLOS BLOGS Speaking of Medicine and Health

This Week in PLOS NTDs and PLOS Pathogens: NTDs in DR Congo, C-type Lectin Receptors and Antimicrobial Immunity, a New Anti-HSV/HIV Drug Candidate, and More.

The following new articles are publishing in PLOS NTDs this week:

Rimoin AW, Hotez PJ (2013). PLoS Negl Trop Dis 7(7): e2118. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002118
Rimoin AW, Hotez PJ (2013). PLoS Negl Trop Dis 7(7): e2118. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002118

The Democratic Republic of Congo may have one of the world’s highest burdens of neglected tropical diseases, but nationwide there is a dearth of surveillance activities and available epidemiological data about these conditions. In this editorial, Drs. Anne Rimoin and Peter Hotez make the case for how the absence of NTD disease surveillance in the DR Congo is a threat both to the people of that nation and indeed to global public health.

Understanding the local etiology of febrile illness and the incidence of dengue is important when planning large-scale vaccine trials, but in the Asia-Pacific region that has over 70% of the worldwide dengue disease burden incidence underreporting is common due to inadequate surveillance. In this paper Dr. Maria Rosario Capeding and colleagues lay out an active fever surveillance study and their results in five dengue-endemic nations.

Snakebites can cause life-threatening injuries including uncontrolled bleeding and paralysis, but treatment with antivenom also carries its own risks, including anaphylaxis. Dr. Shelley Stone and colleagues studied 120 snakebite victims in Sri Lanka both before and after treatment with antivenom and discovered that bites trigger activation of the compliment cascade and production of proinflammatory mediators and immune activation after antivenom treatment, with half of all patients experiencing anaphylaxis.

The following new articles are publishing in PLOS Pathogens this week:

The most famous of the pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) are the Toll-like receptors (TLRs), but there is growing appreciation that another large family of PRRs, known as the C-type lectin receptors (CLRs), also play a major role in antimicrobial immunity. In this Pearl, Drs. Rebecca Drummond and Gordon Brown outline the signaling pathways downstream of these receptors and discuss how they, and other CLRs, contribute to immunity against fungi, bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

HIV and HSV are a dangerous duo: people who have genital herpes are more likely to be infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, during sexual intercourse. Dr. Jan Balzarini and colleagues highlight features of a new anti-HIV drug candidate that also acts against herpes simplex virus (HSV), the virus that causes genital herpes. The new drug, called PMEO-DAPym, targets both viruses and also interferes with HIV via two independent mechanisms.

Bilirubin is the terminal breakdown product of heme, which is deposited at high concentrations in the human intestine. Here, Dr. Christopher Nobles and colleagues report that bilirubin can act as a protectant for E. coli O157:H7, whereas bilirubin is highly toxic towards E. faecalis. The results suggest small molecule metabolites can modulate bacterial communities in the intestine, a finding that may have important implications for diseases caused by enteric bacteria and disrupted flora.

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