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PLOS BLOGS Speaking of Medicine and Health

This Week in PLOS NTDs and PLOS Pathogens: Climate Change and the Sand Fly, Implications of Cross-Seeding, Doubling Down on Onchocerciasis Treatment, and More

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

Moo-Llanes D, Ibarra-Cerdeña CN, Rebollar-Téllez EA, Ibáñez-Bernal S, González C, et al. (2013). PLoS Negl Trop Dis 7(9): e2421. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002421
Moo-Llanes D, Ibarra-Cerdeña CN, Rebollar-Téllez EA, Ibáñez-Bernal S, González C, et al. (2013). PLoS Negl Trop Dis 7(9): e2421. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002421

Inexorable lethality is still commonly attributed to rabies infection, although there is increasing evidence for non-lethal infection and even recovery from clinical rabies in various animal species and humans. Here, Clement Gnanadurai and colleagues report on non-lethal infection in dogs, the role of virus neutralizing antibodies in cerebral spinal fluid and how this might help prevent rabies’ lethal progression.

David Moo-Llanes and colleagues model the niche of the most abundant sand fly species in North and Central America under extreme and conservative climate change scenarios over the next several decades. These models predict significant niche breadth changes, particularly in temperate sand fly species and demonstrate a significant niche identity between Leishmania spp and Lutzomyia cruciate.

Switching from annual to biannual ivermectin distribution might increase the feasibility of onchocerciasis elimination in some African foci, but relatively few communities have received biannual treatments, and there is no cost data associated with increasing ivermectin treatment frequency at a large scale. In this paper, Hugo Turner and colleagues present their study to estimate costs associated with biannual ivermectin delivery in Ghana, which since 2009 has implemented a biannual treatment strategy in selected priority areas.

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

Cross-seeding refers to aggregates of one misfolded protein promoting polymerization of a different protein. In their pearl, Claudio Soto and colleagues summarize the evidence supporting the cross-seeding phenomenon from in vitro studies, animal models, and human patients. They also discuss a possible role of cross-seeding in protein misfolding disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

As a target for neutralizing antibodies, the HIV envelope complex is a prime vaccine candidate. However, design of a stable immunogenic recombinant Env protein complex has been difficult. Rogier Sanders, John Moore, and colleagues describe a newly designed and engineered Env protein trimer that resembles native complexes in electron micrographs, binds most neutralizing antibodies, and has other promising properties.

Studying the host defense against Listeria monocytogenes in mice, Yeonseok Chung, Chen Dong, and colleagues report that in the absence of IL-12-mediated protective immunity, the pathogen depends on the IL-12 family member IL-27EBI3 for escape from Th17-mediated immunity. The authors suggest that targeting IL-27EBI3 could be a new strategy for the treatment of bacterial infection in individuals lacking proper IL-12 responses.

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