Infectious Disease Prevention Technologies Make List of Top Innovations

The members of the American Chemical Society (ACS) have compiled a list of what they believe to be the top innovations of the year and the ones that hold the most promise for addressing scientific imperatives. Several technologies on the list have important implications for the prevention and control of infectious diseases. They are:

-- Needle-free, inhalant powder measles vaccine

Scientists are reporting development of the first dry powder inhalable vaccine for measles. The vaccine is moving toward clinical trials next year in India, where the disease still sickens millions of infants and children and kills almost 200,000 annually, according to a report presented at the 238th ACS National Meeting. Robert Sievers, PhD, who leads the team that developed the dry-powder vaccine, said it’s a perfect fit for use in back-roads areas of developing countries. Those areas often lack the electricity for refrigeration, clean water and sterile needles needed to administer traditional liquid vaccines.

-- First broad-spectrum antimicrobial paint to kill superbugs

Scientists in South Dakota are reporting development of the first broad-spectrum antimicrobial paint, a material that can simultaneously kill not just disease-causing bacteria but mold, fungi and viruses. Designed to both decorate and disinfect homes, businesses, and healthcare settings, the paint is the most powerful to date, according to the new study. It appeared in the monthly ACS' Applied Materials & Interfaces. The paint shows special promise for fighting so-called “superbugs,” antibiotic-resistant microbes that infect hospital surfaces and cause an estimated 88,000 deaths annually in the United States, the researchers say.

-- Tobacco plants yield the first vaccine for the “cruise ship virus”

Scientists have used a new vaccine production technology to develop a vaccine for norovirus, a cause of diarrhea and vomiting that may be the second most common viral infection in the United States after the flu. Sometimes called the “cruise ship virus,” this microbe can spread like wildfire through passenger liners, schools, offices and military bases. The new vaccine is unique in its origin — it was “manufactured” in a tobacco plant using an engineered plant virus. The research was presented at the 238th ACS National Meeting.

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