lunes, 22 de septiembre de 2014

Emerging Viral Diseases: Confronting Threats with New Technologies


Emerging Viral Diseases: Confronting Threats with New Technologies

Fig. 1

Sci Transl Med
Vol. 6, Issue 253, p. 253ps10 
Sci. Transl. Med. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3009872

Emerging Viral Diseases: Confronting Threats with New Technologies

  1. Anthony S. Fauci*
+Author Affiliations
  1. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.
  1. *Corresponding author. E-mail:
Emerging viral diseases pose ongoing health threats, particularly in an era of globalization; however, new biomedical research technologies such as genome sequencing and structure-based vaccine and drug design have improved our ability to respond to viral threats.


Emerging viral diseases have threatened humanity throughout history. Specific aspects of modernization such as rapid air transit, as well as demographic trends including urbanization, have accelerated both the emergence and spread of viruses. As stated in the 1992 Institute of Medicine report on Emerging Infections, “… in the context of infectious diseases, there is nowhere in the world from which we are remote and no one from whom we are disconnected” (1). Fortunately, the aspects of modernization that help to drive pathogen emergence can also propel scientific innovation, and recent important scientific advances have transformed our ability to address the challenge of emerging viruses. From advanced genomic sequencing to new methods in structural biology, we now have an increasingly sophisticated toolkit with which to facilitate the detection and possible control of emerging viral diseases. Still, current outbreaks of viral diseases such as chikungunya fever in the Americas, Ebola virus disease in West Africa, and human infections with avian influenza viruses (together with the ever-present threat of another pandemic caused by a new influenza virus) serve as powerful reminders of our ongoing vulnerability to emerging viral pathogens. These events underscore the need for concerted efforts to develop and implement new interventions while continuing to invest in proven public health measures. These events also remind us of the lack of incentives for the development and marketing of new interventions that target diseases predominantly affecting poor countries. This situation persists despite some recent successes with new partnerships and other efforts to spur development of vaccines and drugs to control “neglected” diseases (2).
Infectious diseases account for ~20% of global mortality, with viral diseases causing about one third of these deaths (3). Individuals in resource-poor settings tend to suffer disproportionate morbidity from viral diseases because of poor sanitation and baseline nutritional status, as well as limited access to health services. These challenges have been tragically demonstrated by the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa, where public health interventions are hampered by a lack of primary health infrastructure (4). Emerging viruses such as Ebola, H5N1 and H7N9 avian influenza viruses, and the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) represent only a subset of viral diseases, yet they often capture public attention because of their ability (in many cases) to spread rapidly and the potential of some to cause high morbidity and mortality.

No hay comentarios:

Publicar un comentario