"Twelve Diseases That Changed Our World" was originally published in 2007 but has taken on renewed relevance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Will the coronavirus similarly change our world? We review the book authored by Prof. Irwin Sherman.
One way to discover drugs is by drug repurposing, which is the process of discovering "new" drugs from "old" ones. Instead of starting from scratch (which takes 10+ years), if scientists can find an approved drug that treats a different -- often untreatable -- condition, considerable time and cost can be saved. In this manner, a drug that cures hepatitis C was found be effective against Yellow Fever and Chikungunya. Does this make sense?
There's a syringe shortage taking place in West Africa that's halted its much-needed yellow fever vaccination program. One big area of concern is the Democratic Republic of Congo, and its huge city of Kinshasa with a population of 12 million -- that's 3.5 million more citizens than New York City. At best, this is expected to become an epidemic, and at worst a global health crisis.
There's a yellow fever outbreak taking place in West Africa, and disturbingly it has all of the markings of the next global health emergency. We have the tools to stop this one, but it's spreading quickly and it may soon be out of control. That is, unless essential measures are taken immediately.
In Brazil, a new viral infection called Zika is doing great harm. It's causing an epidemic of severe birth defects, so much so that doctors are advising women to delay becoming pregnant. There is no treatment for it, although in non-pregnant victims the symptoms are not terribly severe.