Thomas R. O'Donnell

Posts Tagged ‘Ebola’

Roundup: Ebola shots, big computer plans and a sunny outcome for ISU

In Industry Research, University research on August 2, 2015 at 7:12 pm
A colorized transmission electron micrograph (TEM) image of an  Ebola virus virion, created by CDC microbiologist Cynthia Goldsmith. Credit: CDC global Flickr stream.

A colorized transmission electron micrograph (TEM) image of an Ebola virus virion, created by U.S. Centers for Disease Control microbiologist Cynthia Goldsmith. Credit: CDC global Flickr stream.

Iowans and Iowa institutions have played roles in nationally and internationally significant science and technology developments in the last week, but sometimes you have to know the background to understand their involvement.

For instance, there was big news on Friday when the British medical journal The Lancet published results from an Ebola vaccine trial. The medicine appears highly effective – 100 percent, statistically – against the deadly disease. An Iowa company had a hand in it.

Just the day before, President Barack Obama signed an executive order putting the United States on course to build the most powerful computer ever. What few have noticed is the work a top University of Iowa official put in to helped set the stage for the program.

Meanwhile, Iowa State University students in Texas were celebrating after winning a race of sun-powered cars. And they not only won – they dominated, taking home the trophy for the first time since the team began racing 25 years ago.

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Researchers accuse Iowa company of delaying Ebola vaccine safety trial

In Industry Research on October 27, 2014 at 2:34 pm
Liberian sign promoting hand-washing as a means to avoid spreading the Ebola virus. It also lists symptoms and precautions.

Advice to avoid Ebola; also good advice for avoiding flu, food poisoning, etc. Credit: CDC Global Health via photopin cc

Ebola is making millions of Americans sick.

No, they’re not contracting the virus, which has killed thousands of Africans in the worst outbreak in history.

I’m saying people are sick of the breathless reports and fear-mongering pronouncements from politicians, cable news outlets and talk radio hosts.

The fact is that in a country of 300 million people, only two have actually become infected here in the United States (due to poor protocols at a Dallas hospital). Two others (one of whom died) developed symptoms here after visits to West Africa.

A few other patients were brought here for treatment after developing symptoms overseas. At the Omaha, Atlanta and Maryland hospitals where those patients were treated (and where the two Dallas healthcare workers have been hospitalized), no healthcare workers have contracted Ebola. The government built special units at these hospitals to handle contagious patients in a post-9/11 effort to prepare for possible biological attacks.

Also: No one the Dallas patient was with before he was hospitalized has become ill. That says something about how hard it is to spread this virus – unlike, say, influenza.

Meanwhile (here comes the Iowa angle), an Ames company has been in the headlines for its work on an Ebola vaccine. Iowa press coverage of NewLink Genetics has largely tracked the company’s plans to get the vaccine into human trials. It’s rarely gone beyond a single source: NewLink.

Reports outside the state, however, have been more critical. NewLink denies it, but some say the company has purposely delayed the trials while Ebola spreads in Africa and people die.

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