Multiple research approaches are key to pandemic preparedness, NIAID officials say

October 05, 2017

Preparedness in the face of major disease outbreaks can save thousands of lives: Rapid deployment of effective diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines may even stop the disease from potentially exploding into a pandemic. A new article by Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and colleagues examines the multifaceted nature of effective preparedness and the particular role that biomedical research plays. Specifically, the article examines three approaches to pandemic preparedness: pathogen-specific work, platform-based technologies, and prototype-pathogen efforts. Using vaccine development as an example, the authors conclude that a combination of all three approaches will lead to the best preparedness for future pandemics. The article appears online today in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Pathogen-specific research prioritizes diseases known to be dangerous, such as Ebola. Countermeasures to prevent and fight the disease are developed ahead of time and can be rapidly deployed if those diseases emerge. However, this approach relies on the ability to correctly identify future threats and cannot prepare for unexpected outbreaks, such as HIV, SARS, or Zika.

With platform-based approaches, researchers focus on developing customizable techniques, such as those involving nanoparticles or viral vectors. In the event of a pandemic, genetic material can be incorporated into the platform to protect recipients against a specific disease.

The "prototype pathogen" approach can shorten the time needed to create vaccines using platform-based methods. This approach involves studying the characteristics of categories or families of pathogens, such as the family of viruses that contains dengue, West Nile and Zika viruses, and developing vaccines for the category ahead of time. When a disease from a specific category causes an outbreak, these vaccines can be customized if necessary to the specific pathogen within that family, and researchers have a greater chance of quickly deploying an effective vaccine, the authors write.

Despite their adaptability, platform-based and prototype-pathogen approaches do not necessarily yield fully-developed vaccines, treatments or diagnostics, which can lead to a slower response than if pathogen-specific countermeasures had been developed. The best way forward is a combination of all three approaches, the authors write. By investing in research to develop specific countermeasures for known threats and utilizing platform-based and prototype-pathogen approaches to allow for adaptation when unexpected outbreaks arise, global public health organizations can best prepare to combat future disease outbreaks.
-end-
ARTICLE: H Marston et al. The Critical Role of Biomedical Research in Pandemic Preparedness. The Journal of the American Medical Association DOI: 10.1001/jama.2017.15033 (2017).

WHO: NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., is available for comment.

CONTACT: To schedule interviews, please contact Elizabeth Deatrick, (301) 402-1663, elizabeth.deatrick@nih.gov.

NIAID conducts and supports research--at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide--to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID website.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.

NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health®

NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Related Infectious Diseases Articles from Brightsurf:

Understanding the spread of infectious diseases
Physicists at M√ľnster University (Germany) have shown in model simulations that the COVID-19 infection rates decrease significantly through social distancing.

Forecasting elections with a model of infectious diseases
Election forecasting is an innately challenging endeavor, with results that can be difficult to interpret and may leave many questions unanswered after close races unfold.

COVID-19 a reminder of the challenge of emerging infectious diseases
The emergence and rapid increase in cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus, pose complex challenges to the global public health, research and medical communities, write federal scientists from NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Certain antidepressants could provide treatment for multiple infectious diseases
Some antidepressants could potentially be used to treat a wide range of diseases caused by bacteria living within cells, according to work by researchers in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and collaborators at other institutions.

Opioid epidemic is increasing rates of some infectious diseases
The US faces a public health crisis as the opioid epidemic fuels growing rates of certain infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, heart infections, and skin and soft tissue infections.

Infectious diseases could be diagnosed with smartphones in sub-Saharan Africa
A new Imperial-led review has outlined how health workers could use existing phones to predict and curb the spread of infectious diseases.

The Lancet Infectious Diseases: Experts warn of a surge in vector-borne diseases as humanitarian crisis in Venezuela worsens
The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Venezuela is accelerating the re-emergence of vector-borne diseases such as malaria, Chagas disease, dengue, and Zika virus, and threatens to jeopardize public health gains in the country over the past two decades, warn leading public health experts.

Glow-in-the-dark paper as a rapid test for infectious diseases
Researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology (The Netherlands) and Keio University (Japan) present a practicable and reliable way to test for infectious diseases.

Math shows how human behavior spreads infectious diseases
Mathematics can help public health workers better understand and influence human behaviors that lead to the spread of infectious disease, according to a study from the University of Waterloo.

Many Americans say infectious and emerging diseases in other countries will threaten the US
An overwhelming majority of Americans (95%) think infectious and emerging diseases facing other countries will pose a 'major' or 'minor' threat to the U.S. in the next few years, but more than half (61%) say they are confident the federal government can prevent a major infectious disease outbreak in the US, according to a new national public opinion survey commissioned by Research!America and the American Society for Microbiology.

Read More: Infectious Diseases News and Infectious Diseases Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.