Wednesday, September 11, 2013

MERS-CoV drug treatment study in the news!

The University of Washington has issued a press release for my recent paper with my colleagues at NIAID in Nature Medicine about our success treating rhesus macaques infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) with interferon and ribavirin.  This paper has been noticed by the Canadian press, the Chinese pressthe New York Times, and a variety of other online news sources.

This study was led by Dr. Darryl Falzarano and Dr. Heinz Feldmann at NIAID Rocky Mountain Laboratories, who set up the experiment and generated the majority of the virology and clinical data at RML.  Because MERS-CoV has a very high fatality rate in humans, this study was done inside a biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) high containment laboratory at RML.

My contribution to this study was the transcriptomic analysis of the host response in figure 4.   Other online news pieces have focused on the systems biology aspects of this study, specifically the effect that interferon and ribavirin have on the host response.  Viruses are incredibly cool, but the more we study them, the more it becomes apparent that it's the host's response to viral infection that actually causes disease.  This is why MERS-CoV is so deadly, and it's why drugs that modulate the host response rather than attack the virus directly may be our best hope for treating people infected and potentially saving lives.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Falzarano, de Wit, Rasmussen et al, Nature Medicine, 2013

Dr. Angela Rasmussen and colleagues at the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) Rocky Mountain Labs have recently published a paper showing that two commonly used antiviral drugs (interferon and ribavirin) can be used to treat Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus.  This is a recently emerged epidemic disease that has killed approximately 50% of the confirmed cases of infection and is a potential serious threat.

Falzarano et al.  "Treatment with interferon-α2b and ribavirin improves outcome in MERS-CoV–infected rhesus macaques" Nature Medicine 2013

Read the paper here!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dr. Angela Rasmussen on 12 habits that increase your risk for cold and flu viruses

I recently spoke with MSN about habits that make folks more susceptible to cold and flu.  My Ph.D. thesis research concerned mechanisms of rhinovirus pathogenesis in an animal model of the common cold.  During my graduate career at Columbia University, I studied the common cold extensively, in cell culture, mouse models, and (unintentionally) myself (living in New York City, I was exposed to a lot of cold viruses).  So I am both personally and professionally very interested in preventing cold and flu transmission.  Check it out!

http://healthyliving.msn.com/diseases/cold-and-flu/12-habits-that-make-you-a-cold-and-flu-target#1

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dr. Angela Rasmussen talks West Nile virus transmission and prevention

I was interviewed by MedHelp about the West Nile virus (WNV) epidemic here in the United States, and ways to prevent WNV and identify early symptoms of infection.  Although WNV transmission is winding down with cooler fall weather in 2012, thanks to climate change and overall warming trends, we can expect future epidemics next summer and beyond.  Warm, wet weather that facilitates mosquito breeding can lead to serious outbreaks, and we can expect more in years to come.

Check out some information about WNV, as well as tips on prevention here: http://www.medhelp.org/general-health/articles/Get-the-Facts-on-West-Nile-Virus/507

Friday, August 17, 2012

Transplant study in the news!

The University of Washington news office released an announcement to the press about the transplant study (Rasmussen et al, Hepatology, 2012; Diamond et al, Hepatology, 2012).

I am excited to report that it was picked up and reported by Science Codex!  These studies were the result of ten years' worth of hard work by a number of dedicated and brilliant colleagues, and I'm glad that our findings are getting recognized for their contributions to the field of HCV-induced liver disease pathogenesis.

(That's me.  Photo credit: University of Washington)

I'm also excited to report that Dr. Paul Ramsey, the dean of the UW School of Medicine, named these studies' publication as a top advance in the history of UW Medicine.  


It's really nice to have hard work acknowledged, but it's infinitely more satisfying knowing that I led a study which may have some real value for HCV transplant patients.  This is what science should be all about.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ebola outbreak in Uganda

According to the World Health Organization, the first Ebola outbreak since 2009 started in Uganda in July.

http://www.who.int/csr/don/2012_07_29/en/index.html

It began in a village, and has since spread to the capital city of Kampala.  There have been 20 cases, and 14 deaths from Ebola hemorrhagic fever.

Why should you be worried?  Not planning a trip to Uganda any time soon?  Well, we still don't know for sure that Ebola can't be efficiently transmitted via the airborne route, or even what species naturally carries Ebola in the wild.  We have no drugs to treat Ebola virus, and funding for research studying drugs or vaccines is the lowest it has been in history, with more budget cuts to come in 2013.  So, nothing to worry about...right?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Editorial in Hepatology about Rasmussen et al, 2012!!!

I'm excited to report that Hepatology published my transplant study paper and the companion paper by Diamond et al which I co-authored as the cover story of the July issue!  Additionally, the editors at  Hepatology recruited some experts in HCV systems biology (including John Paul Pezacki, who is a leading researcher in the cutting edge field of activity-based proteomics) to write an editorial commenting on the significance of these manuscripts.  The editorial reports that these are "seminal systems biology studies," and discusses the molecular signatures identified by myself and Dr. Diamond as strong candidates for developing prognostic tests that might predict which patients will develop severe liver disease following a transplant.  That in turn could shape therapeutic strategy and the course of their clinical care.