What’s New in Infectious Disease?
From environmental bacteriophages to cap snatching viruses, we bring you the latest news in infectious disease
Georgia Hulme | | News
Flipping the script. A study that assessed the ecological and human health profiles of quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) – a frequently used antimicrobial – has found multiple areas of concern. Researchers discovered that exposure not only has chronic toxicological effects for vulnerable aquatic organisms, but also has a number of respiratory, immunological, and dermal implications for humans (1).
Making a splash. A group of researchers have conducted Typhi-specific bacteriophage surveillance in surface water bodies to identify typhoid endemic settings. The low cost tool proved there was a strong link between the presence of Typhi-specific phages in the environment and the burden of typhoid fever. The team hopes that environmental bacteriophages can be leveraged for the future collection of data on disease burden (2).
In it for the long run. Measuring neutralizing antibody (nAB) durability after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination is critical to understand the level of protection given by the vaccine. New evidence reveals that mRNA vaccines initially produce higher nAb responses compared with the adenovirus-vectored vaccine, Ad26.COV2.S. However, after a period of six months, follow-up investigations revealed that patients who received the Ad26.COV2.S vaccine showed an increase in neutralization and, overall, had more nABs (3).
Breathe in, breathe out. Cavity-enhanced direct frequency comb spectroscopy – a novel laser-based technique – has successfully detected SARS-CoV-2 in real-time by identifying volatile molecules in exhaled breath. The researchers hope that the non-invasive method can identify other medical conditions – particularly those with respiratory, gastrointestinal, or metabolic origin (4).
No cap. Researchers have discovered that the enzyme MTr1 is essential for influenza A and B replication. In a process called “cap snatching,” the virus hijacks the cellular RNA molecules of MTr1 for its own replication. The team also found that trifluoromethyl-tubercidin (TFMT) successfully inhibits MTr1 in human lung explants, providing a potential molecule for the treatment of influenza (5).
- W A Arnold et al., Environ Sci Technol, [Online ahead of print]. PMID: 37157132
- S Shrestha et al., medRxiv, [Preprint] (2023).
- A A Prather et al., Sci Rep, 13 (2023). PMID: 37160978
- Q Liang et al., J Breath Res, 17 (2023). PMID: 37016829
- Y Tsukamoto et al., Science, 379, 586 (2023). PMID: 36758070