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Advancements to Monitor, Combat and Prevent Pathogen Outbreaks

March 30, 2017
In recent years, a major epidemic viral outbreak has occurred annually, whether it was Zika, Ebola, or the Corona virus MERS-CoV. The ever-increasing human population, global travel on a scale never seen before and a closer proximity of humans to wild life habitats are all vital contributors to this observed trend, the impact of which is increasing exponentially.

This is alarming. Today, groundbreaking activities are aimed at combating these outbreaks:

  • New emerging technologies

    • Rapid pathogen identification

    • Increased availability of accurate infectious disease monitoring

  • Early detection (critical)

  • Development of better vaccines due to sequencing of higher numbers of pathogens and their populations

    • Vaccines against a family of pathogens and their core proteins

  • Examining the importance of the microbiome and its impact on human health and how it can help treat or prevent infections and other disease.

    • E.g. The Indian gut is different from a Western gut which translates into differences in pathogen tolerance among the two populations

At the same time, there are still many unknowns and questions we are facing:

  • What’s next in terms of an outbreak?

  • Where do specific pathogens originate from?

  • How can we quickly diagnose them?

  • How can we prevent outbreaks from happening?

  • Why do certain cultures and populations respond differently to pathogens?

Among the many sessions at the upcoming PMWC 2017 Duke conference are two that specifically address these issues:

Novel Approaches to Infectious Disease Diagnosis and Therapeutic Development
Chaired by Dr. Chris Wood (Duke University)
This session will focus on the development of novel diagnostic approaches to infectious disease, including the promises, challenges and pitfalls, and the regulatory / reimbursement issues associated with these developing tests. Furthermore, the importance of the human microbiome and its significance for targeted antibiotics development will be covered. Dr. Margaret Riley’s (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) talk: Targeted Antibacterials Are Attractive Candidates for Therapeutic Development” will be included in the session.

The Role of the Human Microbiome
Chaired by Dr. Lawrence David (Duke University)
As our understanding of the human microbiome increases, we begin to see the human organism as more than its own single entity: modern research is showing that our microbiota has a major impact on our health and lifestyle. This session will explore the various developments of our understanding of the human microbiome, and what expectations exist for the future of microbiome-related science.

The conference will also feature several institutions and commercial companies that are active in this space, building solutions that address the technological aspects of confronting pathogen outbreaks and pathogen identification itself, or working on understanding the microbiome.