Ebola Outbreak Highlights Struggle for Science in Africa and Inequalities in Global Health Research

As authorities scramble to contain the spread of Ebola, it helps to take a step back and examine why the science has not kept pace. Despite some promising advances in immunotherapy, there remains a great deal we haven’t learned about the virus. In part, the lack of research in “non-profitable” infectious diseases occurring in underprivileged countries has left threats like Ebola largely unaddressed. In addition, inequalities within the system of international scientific collaboration have hindered African researchers from leading the way against diseases ravaging their continent.

Similar concerns were echoed by the director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, who acknowledged in a recent interview that the quest for an Ebola vaccine in the United States had been slowed by a combination of lack of interest from the pharmaceutical industry and domestic budget cuts to basic research. With the arrival of the first Ebola patient on U.S. soil, however, the urgency to find a cure has hit home.

Nonetheless, individual states cannot be expected to replace what needs to be a coordinated effort. Speakers at a security meeting last month acknowledged that investing in Africa’s ailing healthcare infrastructure, while necessary, was unsustainable. What is needed are —> Read More Here

Two Arrested As People Flock To Hawaii Lava

PAHOA, Hawaii (AP) — Two Hawaii residents have been arrested for trespassing to see lava, police said Friday amid growing interest from people eager to witness the slow-moving flow.

Hawaii County police said officers saw a man and a woman on county property Thursday taking photos within 5 feet of the lava in the small town of Pahoa.

The 65-year-old woman and 59-year-old man had two golf clubs that had been dipped in lava, which had hardened on the clubs, police said. They crossed private property to get to the spot where they watched the lava.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira said the county is restricting the public’s access to the lava flow to keep people safe.

“It’s unfortunate. We would hope we wouldn’t have to take steps to enforce the rules,” Oliveira told reporters.

He said the lava is currently in people’s backyards. The county may be able to enable public viewing if and when it enters public land, he said.

But authorities need to be able to manage the situation. In 1990, when lava poured into Kalapana on the Big Island’s southern coast, parked cars lined the roads and people crowded in to watch.

Tourists and Big Island residents have been streaming into —> Read More Here

A Mobile Health Innovation That Could Help Stop Ebola

Developing countries don’t have the high-tech equipment needed to quickly diagnose the disease, but they do have millions of cellphones. One UCLA professor has a way to turn those phones into diagnostic centers.

There are 6.8 billion cellphone subscriptions in the world. Even when you consider that some people have more than one subscription, that means that an incredibly high percentage of the world’s 7 billion people now have a mobile phone.

Although most of us use our phones for things like texting, taking photos and playing games (in addition to the occasional phone call), there’s a movement out there to harness the power of that giant community of cellphone users to help people living in the poorest countries on Earth.

Dr. Aydogan Ozcan is a member of that movement. The UCLA engineering professor is turning mobile phones into diagnostic centers that can be used thousands of miles away from labs with expensive hospital equipment.

Ozcan has created software and hardware that turn cellphones into microscopes and diagnostic machines. With the addition of a 3D-printed microscope, a field worker in Africa can quickly scan the blood of an HIV patient to see how the virus is reacting to medicine. Workers can —> Read More Here

The Darker Side of Black Licorice

TrickOrTreat

Want to test your own knowledge of which candies have tested positive for lead? Check out the “Trick or Treat” app from the team at Youth Radio Interactive.

This Halloween, kids everywhere will be out trick or treating for candy. And while some might worry about the loot rotting our teeth, there’s another more potent risk. Traces of the powerful neurotoxin, lead, can be found in some candy. This isn’t a new concern. For more than a decade, we’ve known about harmful amounts of the metal showing up in chili-flavored sweets imported from Mexico. That problem was addressed, but the California Department of Public Health has found lead in some candies made and distributed in the US.

One of the best known candy makers in the Bay Area is Jelly Belly. Its headquarters are in Fairfield, California, and the place looks kind of like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. There’s candy everywhere, and the air smells like a mixture of citrus, strawberries, and pure sugar.

The top three flavors, according to the Jelly Belly tour-guide, are Very Cherry, Butter Popcorn and Black Licorice. Black Licorice in particular may not be as sweet as it sounds. Earlier this year, Jelly —> Read More Here

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