Dec 4, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded four contracts worth $11.4 million in an effort to develop a 30-minute test for H5N1 avian influenza.The CDC said it awarded the funds to spur development of tests that doctors and field epidemiologists could use to test patients for both H5N1 and other flu viruses. Currently, testing for H5N1 in the United States must be done in 1 of about 100 designated laboratories and takes from 4 to 24 hours, depending on shipping time, the CDC said.Last month the World Health Organization (WHO) listed a rapid diagnostic test as one of the top priorities in avian and pandemic flu research. The CDC said it hopes a rapid test can be ready and licensed within 2 to 3 years.”The creation of a point-of-care test to rapidly detect human cases of H5N1 avian influenza would be a major step forward in our ability to protect public health,” Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said in a news release.The four companies, their tests, and the contract amounts are as follows:Cepheid, Sunnyvale, Calif.—GeneXPert Flu assay, $2.4 millionIquum, Marlborough, Mass.—LIAT, Lab-in-a-Tube, $3.8 millionMesoScale, Gaithersburg, Md.—Multi-Array Detection, $706,241Nanogen, San Diego—a novel point-of-care immunoassay system, $4.5 millionOver the next year, the companies will work to develop tests that can detect flu viruses and distinguish seasonal strains from H5N1 within 30 minutes, the CDC said. Existing rapid tests can tell only if a patient has a seasonal influenza A or B virus.CDC spokeswoman Christine Pearson told CIDRAP News the contracts are intended to fund the first two of five development phases.The goal for the first two phases is to produce a prototype test that can be evaluated by the CDC, said Dr. Ruben Donis, chief of the molecular virology and vaccines branch in the CDC’s influenza division. He said the agency will fund further development only if the prototype has “acceptable performance characteristics.”In a news release, Nanogen said that if the CDC funds all five development phases, the company would receive a total of about $12.5 million over the next 2 to 3 years.The four companies were chosen from 13 applicants, the CDC said. Selection criteria included the technical specifications of the test, experience in developing diagnostic tools, staff expertise, and access to labs with sufficient security to handle H5N1 viruses.The agency also promised to provide funds for a repository of influenza reagents and other materials to help in development of the tests.See also:Dec 4 CDC news releasehttp://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/r061204.htm
AMES — Iowa’s weather may be in for a big change in the coming months as indications show a possible shift toward a La Nina pattern, which means hotter, drier weather.Meteorologist Dennis Todey, director of the U.S.D.A.’s Midwest Climate Hub — based in Ames, says Pacific Ocean climate factors have been steady for the past couple of years but there are hints that may be changing. “We have been neutral to maybe hedging close to an El Nino,” Todey says. “We didn’t quite reach the category but we were close towards that side. It’s really interesting now, as you look ahead into the summertime, there are a few models that took us rapidly toward La Nina territory by the end of the growing season.”Todey says there is an indication from computerized weather forecasting models of changes later this year. “The chances for La Nina start popping up in the fall, so it’s after the main part of the growing season here,” Todey says. “We do have to watch in case things would shift more quickly to La Nina than we’d expect, but right now the expectation is that we don’t get to La Nina territory during the growing season enough to be an issue.”Todey says sea surface temperature changes have an impact on the weather in Iowa and across much of North America. “La Nina, during the growing season for us, does increase our risk of heat and dryness but right now, we don’t expect that to happen,” Todey says. “My main concern with the growing season right now is how quickly can we get things moving, how quickly can we get soils dried out and things in the ground so we don’t get delays again.”A warming ocean surface produces an El Nino pattern which can also have strong effects, including wetter weather in the Midwest.
New Delhi, Apr 20 (PTI) With days to go for the municipal polls in Delhi, Union minister Vijay Goel today exuded confidence that the BJP will retain power with a resounding victory by bagging an “impressive tally of seats”.Asked to project the number of seats the party was expected to win, he said, “more than 200”.Goel also described the partys decision to field only fresh faces as “bold”.”The AAPs drubbing in the Rajouri Garden by-poll is a clear indication. We are going to put up an impressive show in the MCD polls as well,” The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs and Sports told PTI.The BJP has been ruling the MCD for the last 10 years. After the trifurcation of the MCD in 2012 into North, South and East Delhi Municipal Corporations (NDMC, SDMC and EDMC), the first election was held the same year, which was won by the saffron party.The BJP currently has 153 sitting councillors, but this time, it has not fielded any of them and instead, preferred all fresh faces.The move has been described by the opposition parties, including the Congress and the AAP, as a “tactic to counter anti-incumbency”, while the BJP maintains that the decision is to “give chance to the new generation”.”The decision to field no sitting councillor is a bold one. This will bring in the new generation and new faces, who do not have cases against them, corruption-related or otherwise.”People have shown faith (in the BJP) in the Lok Sabha and the Uttar Pradesh (Assembly) elections. Recently, even in the Rajouri Garden by-poll, the electorate gave us the indication,” Goel said.advertisementThe MCD polls are due on April 23 and the campaigning of all the parties has hit the fever pitch before the dust settles in the rally grounds and the loudspeakers fall silent.Both the AAP and the Congress have cornered the BJP over “civic mismanagement” in the city, even as the saffron party has blunted the attack, alleging that Kejriwal has “no interest” in the affairs of Delhi and he is only interested in “expanding his partys footprint” beyond the national capital.The AAP suffered a debacle in the Punjab, Goa and Uttarakhand polls recently, even as Kejriwal has said that those elections as well as the Rajouri Garden by-poll should not be seen as a “trailer of the MCD elections”.Generation-1 electronic voting machines (EVMs) are to be used in the MCD polls, even though Kejriwal has requested to the Delhi State Election Commission to delay the elections, so that only VVPAT-equipped EVMs could be brought in.Delhi has 272 wards in total — NDMC (104), SDMC (104) and EDMC (64). PTI KND RC