The Health News – 12 July 2016

Overview:
• The number of Australians being diagnosed with AIDS each year is now so small, researchers from the Kirby and Peter Doherty institutes and the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations have announced the age of the fatal syndrome over.

• Burkholderia pseudomallei is found in soil in northern Australia, particularly in stagnant water in the wet season. Queensland
researchers have found that it kills tens of thousands of people each year can be spread through the sniff of a nose and travel
to the brain and spinal cord in 24 hours.

• A team from the Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics (KCCG; Garvan Institute of Medical Research) was a top performer in last  week’s precisionFDA ‘Truth Challenge’, an online competition designed to test the performance of genome informatics pipelines worldwide.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  12th of July 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-10/the-ends-of-aids-as-a-public-health-issue-in-australia/7580852

The nation’s top scientists have declared “the end of AIDS” as a public health issue, as Australia joins the ranks of a select few countries which have successfully beaten the epidemic.

The number of Australians being diagnosed with AIDS each year is now so small, researchers from the Kirby and Peter Doherty institutes and the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations have announced the age of the fatal syndrome over.

AIDS cases in Australia have plummeted since the advent of anti-retroviral medication in the mid-1990s, which stops HIV from progressing to AIDS – where the immune system is so badly damaged it cannot fight off infection.

At its peak in the early 1990s, about 1,000 Australians died from AIDS each year.

However, Professor Andrew Grulich, head of the HIV Epidemiology and Prevention Program at the Kirby Institute, said the number was now so low, it was not even recorded.

Despite the progress, researchers are still quick to point out the end of AIDS is not the end of HIV.

About 1,000 new cases of HIV are reported in Australia each year, and those within the sector worry that young people, who did not witness the horrors of the AIDS epidemic during the 80s and 90s, have become complacent.

Professor Lewin said 10 per cent of new diagnoses of HIV in Australia were made of people with advanced HIV infection.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-08/burkholderia-pseudomallei-deadly-bacteria-bond-griffith-study/7581008

A deadly bacterium which kills tens of thousands of people each year can be spread through the sniff of a nose and travel to the brain and spinal cord in 24 hours, Queensland researchers have found.

Burkholderia pseudomallei is found in soil in northern Australia, particularly in stagnant water in the wet season.

It causes melioidosis, which has a 10 to 20 per cent mortality rate in Australia once it infects the brain, that increases to 50 per cent in South-East Asia.

A specific drug to treat the disease has not yet been found.

A joint Bond University and Griffith University study has been published in Immunity and Infection, shedding light on how the bacteria spreads.

It was previously not known how the bacterium travelled to the brain and spinal cord, or how quickly.

Associate Professor Jenny Ekberg from Bond University said it was frightening how easily the bacteria could reach the brain.

“Unfortunately this is a disease which is predicted to spread south with climate change,” she said.

“The bacterium has been identified as a bio-weapon and our discovery has shown the path it can get into the brain and the spinal cord and now we have something to hit at.

“We know where we need to stop it.” [she said]

http://www.garvan.org.au/news/news/garvan-team-a-top-performer-in-international-genomics-challenge

06 July 2016

A team from the Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics (KCCG; Garvan Institute of Medical Research) was a top performer in last week’s precisionFDA ‘Truth Challenge’, an online competition designed to test the performance of genome informatics pipelines worldwide. The team – including Dr Mark Cowley, Aaron Statham, Joe Copty and Dr Mark Pinese – received the award for highest “SNP Precision” and several other commendations.

In the Truth Challenge, participating teams were given the opportunity to test the performance of their institution’s genomics pipeline on an individual genome sequence that had not previously been analysed. The Challenge aimed to identify the sensitivity and precision of each pipeline in two key areas of genomic analysis:

Among the 36 entries received, Garvan’s KCCG team achieved the highest overall precision in detecting SNPs in the unknown genome. The team’s precision level of over 99.98% earned them the “SNP Precision” award. In addition, the team gained several commendations for both sensitivity and precision in detecting insertions and deletions.