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Concept: Introduction


We examined the introduction of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) and oral polio vaccine (OPV) in an urban community in Guinea-Bissau in the early 1980s.

Concepts: Vaccine, Poliomyelitis, Polio vaccine, Experiment, Introduction, Poliomyelitis eradication, OPV AIDS hypothesis


Research into the microbiome-the indigenous microbial communities (microbiota) and the host environment that they inhabit-has changed clinicians' ideas about microbes in human health and disease. Perhaps the most radical change is the realization that most of the microbes that inhabit our body supply crucial ecosystem services that benefit the entire host-microbe system. These services include the production of important resources, bioconversion of nutrients, and protection against pathogenic microbes. Thus disease can result from a loss of beneficial functions or the introduction of maladaptive functions by invading microbes. This review will show how an understanding of the dynamics and function of the indigenous microbiota has altered our view of microbes in maintaining homeostasis and causing disease. It will discuss how disruption of the beneficial functions of the microbiota can lead to disease. Methods for studying the microbiota will be introduced as part of a conceptual framework for using these methods to delineate novel roles for microbes in health. Key associations between specific changes in the microbiome and disease will be discussed. This will lead to an explanation of how the intentional manipulation of the microbiota, either by restoring missing functions or eliminating harmful functions, may lead to novel methods to prevent or treat a variety of diseases. With the explosion of studies relating the microbiome to health and disease, this review aims to provide a foundation for clinicians to follow this developing area of biomedical research.

Concepts: Medicine, Epidemiology, Disease, Bacteria, Senescence, Microbiology, Change, Introduction


Wolbachia infections are being introduced into mosquito vectors of human diseases following the discovery that they can block transmission of disease agents. This requires mosquitoes infected with the disease-blocking Wolbachia to successfully invade populations lacking the infection. While this process is facilitated by features of Wolbachia, particularly their ability to cause cytoplasmic incompatibility, blocking Wolbachia may produce deleterious effects, such as reduced host viability or fecundity, that inhibit successful local introductions and subsequent spatial spread. Here, we outline an approach to facilitate the introduction and spread of Wolbachia infections by coupling Wolbachia introduction to resistance to specific classes of insecticides. The approach takes advantage of very high maternal transmission fidelity of Wolbachia infections in mosquitoes, complete incompatibility between infected males and uninfected females, the widespread occurrence of insecticide resistance, and the widespread use of chemical control in disease-endemic countries. This approach is easily integrated into many existing control strategies, provides population suppression during release and might be used to introduce Wolbachia infections even with high and seasonally dependent deleterious effects, such as the wMelPop infection introduced into Aedes aegypti for dengue control. However, possible benefits will need to be weighed against concerns associated with the introduction of resistance alleles.

Concepts: Disease, Infectious disease, Infection, Mosquito, Aedes aegypti, Aedes, Dengue fever, Introduction


Little is known about the incidence and dynamics of occult bacteremia (OB) among infants/young children following the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs) into the national immunization program in Israel in 2009-2010. The aim of this study was to characterize the epidemiologic and microbiologic picture of OB among febrile infants/children aged 3-36 months in southern Israel, before and after PCVs introduction.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Microbiology, Pneumonia, Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, Introduction


The introduction of affordable, consumer-oriented 3-D printers is a milestone in the current “maker movement,” which has been heralded as the next industrial revolution. Combined with free and open sharing of detailed design blueprints and accessible development tools, rapid prototypes of complex products can now be assembled in one’s own garage-a game-changer reminiscent of the early days of personal computing. At the same time, 3-D printing has also allowed the scientific and engineering community to build the “little things” that help a lab get up and running much faster and easier than ever before.

Concepts: Mathematics, Industrial Revolution, The Current, Introduction, Personal computer, Debut albums, Tool, Rapid prototyping


Between September 2014 and February 2015, the number of Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases reported in Sierra Leone declined in many districts. During this period, a major international response was put in place, with thousands of treatment beds introduced alongside other infection control measures. However, assessing the impact of the response is challenging, as several factors could have influenced the decline in infections, including behavior changes and other community interventions. We developed a mathematical model of EVD transmission, and measured how transmission changed over time in the 12 districts of Sierra Leone with sustained transmission between June 2014 and February 2015. We used the model to estimate how many cases were averted as a result of the introduction of additional treatment beds in each area. Examining epidemic dynamics at the district level, we estimated that 56,600 (95% credible interval: 48,300-84,500) Ebola cases (both reported and unreported) were averted in Sierra Leone up to February 2, 2015 as a direct result of additional treatment beds being introduced. We also found that if beds had been introduced 1 month earlier, a further 12,500 cases could have been averted. Our results suggest the unprecedented local and international response led to a substantial decline in EVD transmission during 2014-2015. In particular, the introduction of beds had a direct impact on reducing EVD cases in Sierra Leone, although the effect varied considerably between districts.

Concepts: Infectious disease, Mathematics, Introduction, Ebola, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Malaise, Sierra Leone


DNA-based molecular circuits allow autonomous signal processing, but their actuation has relied mostly on RNA/DNA-based inputs, limiting their application in synthetic biology, biomedicine and molecular diagnostics. Here we introduce a generic method to translate the presence of an antibody into a unique DNA strand, enabling the use of antibodies as specific inputs for DNA-based molecular computing. Our approach, antibody-templated strand exchange (ATSE), uses the characteristic bivalent architecture of antibodies to promote DNA-strand exchange reactions both thermodynamically and kinetically. Detailed characterization of the ATSE reaction allowed the establishment of a comprehensive model that describes the kinetics and thermodynamics of ATSE as a function of toehold length, antibody-epitope affinity and concentration. ATSE enables the introduction of complex signal processing in antibody-based diagnostics, as demonstrated here by constructing molecular circuits for multiplex antibody detection, integration of multiple antibody inputs using logic gates and actuation of enzymes and DNAzymes for signal amplification.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Bacteria, Molecular biology, Biology, Signal processing, ELISA, Introduction


Alien species are a major component of human-induced environmental change. Variation in the numbers of alien species found in different areas is likely to depend on a combination of anthropogenic and environmental factors, with anthropogenic factors affecting the number of species introduced to new locations, and when, and environmental factors influencing how many species are able to persist there. However, global spatial and temporal variation in the drivers of alien introduction and species richness remain poorly understood. Here, we analyse an extensive new database of alien birds to explore what determines the global distribution of alien species richness for an entire taxonomic class. We demonstrate that the locations of origin and introduction of alien birds, and their identities, were initially driven largely by European (mainly British) colonialism. However, recent introductions are a wider phenomenon, involving more species and countries, and driven in part by increasing economic activity. We find that, globally, alien bird species richness is currently highest at midlatitudes and is strongly determined by anthropogenic effects, most notably the number of species introduced (i.e., “colonisation pressure”). Nevertheless, environmental drivers are also important, with native and alien species richness being strongly and consistently positively associated. Our results demonstrate that colonisation pressure is key to understanding alien species richness, show that areas of high native species richness are not resistant to colonisation by alien species at the global scale, and emphasise the likely ongoing threats to global environments from introductions of species.

Concepts: Environment, Bird, Introduction, Globalization, Invasive species, Introduced species, European Starling, Indigenous


Varicella is generally considered a mild disease. Disease burden is not well known and country-level estimation is challenging. As varicella disease is not notifiable, notification criteria and rates vary between countries. In general, existing surveillance systems do not capture cases that do not seek medical care, and most are affected by underreporting and underascertainment. We aimed to estimate the overall varicella disease burden in Europe to provide critical information to support decision-making regarding varicella vaccination.

Concepts: Immune system, Health care, Medicine, Public health, Infectious disease, Estimation, Introduction, Varicella vaccine


The use of recombinant genetic technologies for population manipulation has mostly remained an abstract idea due to the lack of a suitable means to drive novel gene constructs to high frequency in populations. Recently Gantz and Bier showed that the use of CRISPR/Cas9 technology could provide an artificial drive mechanism, the so-called Mutagenic Chain Reaction (MCR), which could lead to rapid fixation of even a deleterious introduced allele. We establish the near equivalence of this system to other gene drive models and review the results of simple models showing that, when there is a fitness cost to the MCR allele, an internal equilibrium may exist that is usually unstable. In this case, introductions must be at a frequency above this critical point for the successful invasion of the MCR allele. We obtain estimates of fixation and invasion probabilities for the appropriate scenarios. Finally, we discuss how polymorphism in natural populations may introduce sources of natural resistance to MCR invasion. These modeling results have important implications for application of MCR in natural populations.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Natural selection, Allele, Evolution, Biology, Introduction