CII Partners with Bangladesh on Pathogen Discovery and Surveillance

Posted 4/16/2015 12:17:23 PM

April 15, 2015—The Center for Infection and Immunity at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health entered into an agreement with the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, furthering a series of international partnerships to undertake infectious disease surveillance and discovery in Bangladesh.

At the April 14 signing ceremony, Mailman School Dean Linda P. Fried and CII director W. Ian Lipkin met with representatives from the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, National Influenza Centre, and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, who also signed the agreement.

“This relationship formalizes our commitment to continuing and expanding our current collaboration with the government of Bangladesh,” said Lipkin. “Through research and training programs, we will both yield scientific insights and build public health infrastructure.”

The agreement with Bangladesh follows on the heels of similar arrangements with People’s Republic of China and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and furthers CII’s efforts to create a “global immune system” for emerging infectious disease threats. In Bangladesh, CII will employ genetic methods to rapidly identify infectious agents—methods pioneered by CII.

Among the poorest countries in the world, Bangladesh is marked by chronic malnutrition, faulty water and sanitation systems, and the highest infant mortality rate in Asia. It is also among the most densely populated, and populous, countries on the planet. The emergence of zoonotic viruses in Bangladesh could augur an almost immediate threat to regional stability and world health.

 

 

From left, seated: Linda P Fried, Dean, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University; Professor Dr. Deen Mohd. Noorul Huq, Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh; Roxana Quader, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh; Professor W. Ian Lipkin, MD Director, Center for Infection & Immunity, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University; 

From left, standing:Dr. M. Mushtuq Husain, Principal Scientist Officer & Head, Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR); Md. Helal Uddin, Joint Chief, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare; Professor Mahmudur Rahman, PhD, Director, Institute for Epidemiology, Disease Control & Research (IEDCR and National Influenza Centre (NIC), Bangladesh, Simon Anthony, D. Phil., associate research scientist, Center for Infection & Immunity, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University; Dr. Ahmad Raihan Sharif, Medical Officer, Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR)


Scientists Find Clues Into Cognitive Dysfunction in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Posted 3/30/2015 2:08:50 PM

Immune Markers in Cerebrospinal Fluid Provide Insights Into the Basis for Symptoms Like “Brain Fog”

 

NEW YORK (March 31, 2015)—Scientists at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health have identified a unique pattern of immune molecules in the cerebrospinal fluid of people with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) that provides insights into the basis for cognitive dysfunction—frequently described by patients as “brain fog”—as well as new hope for improvements in diagnosis and treatment. 

In the study published in Molecular Psychiatry, Mady Hornig, MD, and colleagues used immunoassay testing methods to measure levels of 51 immune biomarkers called cytokines in the cerebrospinal fluid of 32 people with ME/CFS for an average of seven years, 40 with multiple sclerosis, and 19 non-diseased controls. The researchers found that levels of most cytokines, including the inflammatory immune molecule interleukin 1, were depressed in individuals with ME/CFS compared with the other two groups, matching what was seen in a blood study in patients who had the disease for more than three years. One cytokine—eotaxin—was elevated in the ME/CFS and MS groups, but not in the control group.

“We now know that the same changes to the immune system that we recently reported in the blood of people with ME/CFS with long-standing disease are also present in the central nervous system,” says Dr. Hornig, professor of Epidemiology and director of translational research at the Center for Infection and Immunity at the Mailman School. “These immune differences may contribute to symptoms in both the peripheral parts of the body and the brain, from muscle weakness to brain fog.” 

Implications for Diagnosis and Treatment

 “Diagnosis of ME/CFS is now based on clinical criteria. Our findings offer the hope of objective diagnostic tests for disease as well as the potential for therapies that correct the imbalance in cytokine levels seen in people with ME/CFS at different stages of their disease,” adds W. Ian Lipkin, MD, John Snow Professor of Epidemiology and director of the Center for Infection and Immunity. 

There is precedent for use of human monoclonal antibodies that regulate the immune response in a wide range of disorders from rheumatoid arthritis to multiple sclerosis. However, the researchers note, additional work will be needed to assess the safety and efficacy of this approach.

 The study was supported by a grant from the Chronic Fatigue Initiative of the Hutchins Family Foundation and the Edward P. Evans Foundation.

Additional authors include Andrew F. Schultz, Meredith L. Eddy and Xiaoyu Che at the Mailman School; C. Gunnar Gottschalk and Daniel L. Peterson at Sierra Internal Medicine in Incline Village, NV; and Konstance K. Knox at Coppe Health Care Solutions in Waukesha, WI, and Simmaron Research in Incline Village, NV.

About Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health 

Founded in 1922, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health pursues an agenda of research, education, and service to address the critical and complex public health issues affecting New Yorkers, the nation and the world. The Mailman School is the third largest recipient of NIH grants among schools of public health. Its over 450 multi-disciplinary faculty members work in more than 100 countries around the world, addressing such issues as preventing infectious and chronic diseases, environmental health, maternal and child health, health policy, climate change & health, and public health preparedness. It is a leader in public health education with over 1,300 graduate students from more than 40 nations pursuing a variety of master’s and doctoral degree programs. The Mailman School is also home to numerous world-renowned research centers including ICAP (formerly the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs) and the Center for Infection and Immunity. For more information, please visit www.mailman.columbia.edu.

 

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Autistic Children More Likely to Have GI Issues in Early Life

Posted 3/25/2015 11:00:13 AM

Image Credit: JAMA, ©AMA

 

Large Study Finds GI Symptoms Appear in Infancy and Persist Through Age 3

NEW YORK (March 25, 2015)—Scientists at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health report that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were two-and-a-half times more likely to have persistent gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms as infants and toddlers than children with typical development. Results are published in JAMA Psychiatry.

The study is based on a large longitudinal survey of Norwegian mothers who were asked about their child’s GI disturbances during the first three years of life. Questionnaires were completed when the children were 18 and 36 months of age.  

The authors found that children with ASD had higher odds of their mothers reporting constipation and food allergy/intolerance in the 6- to 18-month-old age range, and higher odds of diarrhea, constipation, and food allergy/intolerance in the 18- to 36-month-old age range compared with children with typical development. 

Mothers of children with ASD were also more likely to report one or more GI symptoms in their children in either or both age ranges compared with mothers of children with typical development. And children with ASD were more likely to have GI symptoms than children with developmental delay, suggesting that the disturbances were not simply secondary to developmental delay associated with autism.Michaeline Bresnahan

“We not only learned that these symptoms appeared early in infancy; we also found that children with ASD were at significantly increased risk for these symptoms to persist compared with typically developing children,” says Michaeline Bresnahan, PhD, first author and assistant professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School. 

“The longitudinal nature of the study allowed us to uncover the presence of GI complaints in early life—before mothers knew their child would be diagnosed with autism,” says Ezra Susser, MD, DrPH, co-senior author and professor of both Psychiatry and Epidemiology at the Mailman School and Columbia University Medical Center. “This is yet another demonstration of how longitudinal cohort research can shed light on features of autism.”

GI-Autism Relationship Remains Unclear

While higher rates of GI symptoms are associated with autism, Dr. Bresnahan cautions that “the vast majority of children with these symptoms won’t go on to develop autism, nor do all people with autism have GI problems as children.” Bresnahan adds, “GI symptoms alone need not be cause for alarm.”

“Although the connection of GI disturbances to autism remains unclear, the presence of GI symptoms in early life may not only help to identify a subset of children with autism who require clinical input for their GI issues, it may also open new avenues for determining the underlying nature of the disorder in that subgroup,” notes Mady Hornig, MD, co-first author of the study and associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School.

“Delineating factors that disrupt signaling along the gut-brain axis while the brain is still under development may ultimately provide a key to understanding how the disorder occurs in the subset of children with autism and GI complaints,” adds W. Ian Lipkin, MD, the study’s senior author, and John Snow professor of Epidemiology and director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at the Mailman School.   

Additional co-authors include Andrew F. Schultz from the Mailman School; Nina Gunnes, Kari Kveim Lie, Per Magnus, Ted Reichborn-Kjennerud, Christine Roth, Synnve Schjølberg, Camilla Stoltenberg and Pål Surén from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health; and Deborah Hirtz from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

The research was supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Service, the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, and grant NS47537 from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health. The authors report no conflicts of interest.

About Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health

Founded in 1922, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health pursues an agenda of research, education, and service to address the critical and complex public health issues affecting New Yorkers, the nation and the world. The Mailman School is the third largest recipient of NIH grants among schools of public health. Its over 450 multi-disciplinary faculty members work in more than 100 countries around the world, addressing such issues as preventing infectious and chronic diseases, environmental health, maternal and child health, health policy, climate change & health, and public health preparedness. It is a leader in public health education with over 1,300 graduate students from more than 40 nations pursuing a variety of master’s and doctoral degree programs. The Mailman School is also home to numerous world-renowned research centers including ICAP (formerly the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs) and the Center for Infection and Immunity. For more information, please visit www.mailman.columbia.edu.

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