Network News

05 May 2020

Pasteur Foundation Asia - Together, We Will Overcome The SARS-CoV-2 Virus

The Pasteur Foundation Asia (PFA), charitable organization established in Hong Kong that supports crucial scientific research, teaching and public health initiatives, started a fundraising campaign to support the response against the SARS-CoV-2.

With the goal of raising HKD5,000,000, the PFA will support technology transfer and sending material in the Asia-Pacific region and where people need them most. Those funds will also help current research on the SARS-CoV-2 in Hong Kong at HKU-Pasteur and across the Institut Pasteur International Network as well as supporting teaching to prepare future generations of scientists. 

"We need to prepare ourselves for the long run and scientific knowledge is the answer." Roberto Bruzzone, Co-Director, HKU-Pasteur

03 Aug 2020

Need For Sustainable Biobanking Networks For COVID-19 And Other Diseases Of Epidemic Potential

Doctor Amadou Sall, director of the WHO Collaborating Center for arboviruses and viral haemorrhagic fevers, Institut Pasteur de Dakar, Senegal, co-signed a publication in The Lancet Infectious Diseases presenting a sustainable model for a global network of country-owned biobanks with standardised methods for collection, characterisation, and archiving of specimens and pathogens to facilitate and accelerate diagnostics development and evaluation for COVID-19 and other diseases of epidemic potential. 
Outbreaks of infectious diseases are occurring with increasing frequency and unpredictability. The rapid development and deployment of diagnostics that can accurately and quickly identify pathogens as part of epidemic preparedness is needed now for the COVID-19 pandemic. WHO has developed a global research and innovation forum to facilitate, accelerate, and deepen research collaboration among countries and funders. Great progress has been made in the past decade, but access to specimens remains a major barrier for the development and evaluation of needed quality diagnostics. 
We present a sustainable model for a global network of country-owned biobanks with standardised methods for collection, characterisation, and archiving of specimens and pathogens to facilitate and accelerate diagnostics development and evaluation for COVID-19 and other diseases of epidemic potential. 
The biobanking network should be run on the guiding principles of transparency, equitable access, ethics, and respect for national laws that support country ownership and sustainability. Adapting the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits, sharing of specimens from national biobanks can be rewarded through mechanisms such as equitable access to diagnostics at negotiated prices. Such networks should be prepared for any pathogen of epidemic potential. 

21 Jul 2020

Institut Pasteur And HKUMed Working Together On A New Approach For Malaria Diagnosis

Institut Pasteur, Paris, and the LKS Faculty of Medicine of The University of Hong Kong (HKUMed) published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) the results of their collaboration to develop a new approach for Malaria Diagnosis.
They have demonstrated that evolved specific non-biological molecules could target a malaria biomarker. They are able to carry tasks that normal biological molecules are not able to do and can for example be used to determine the type of malaria infecting a patient. 
Professor Julian Tanner, Professor and Associate Director (Teaching & Learning) of the School of Biomedical Sciences, Assistant Dean (Biomedical Sciences Curriculum), HKUMed (right); with his research team members, Dr Andrew Kinghorn (1st from left) and Mr Young Lo (2nd from left). Photo: HKUMed

23 Jun 2020

COVID-19: Dexamethasone Shows Promising Results In Critically Ill Patients

The RECOVERY trial (Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy) led by Professor Peter Horbyand Professor Martin Landray made a major breakthroughin the treatment of COVID-19.

Dexamethasone, a low-cost and widely available drug, showed excellent results in critically patients, cutting the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators and a fifth for those on oxygen.

Already used to reduce inflammation in other conditions (like arthritis, asthma and some skin conditions), Dexamethasone appears to help high-risk patients with COVID-19 but does not seemsto help people with milder symptoms of coronavirus who do not need assistanceforbreathing. The UK government has 200,000 courses of the drug in its stockpile and says the NHS will make dexamethasone available to patients.

The study, led by a team from Oxford University, monitored 2,000 hospitalized patients who were given the drug and compared it to more than 4,000 other patients. According to Professor Landray, one life could be saved in every eight patients on ventilator and in every 20 to 25 patients treated with oxygen. 

Martin Landray also emphasis on the price of this treatment: up to 10 days of Dexamethasone costs about 5 Pounds. The price and availability of Dexamethasone could be a crucial benefit for developing countries with high numbers of COVID-19 cases. 

10 Jun 2020

Many thanks to the Consul General of France for highlighting the donation of BNP Paribas to PFA at the Residence de France

Alexandre Giorgini, Consul General of France in Hong Kong and Macau, hosted a lunch to underscore the impact of the donation made by BNP Paribas Hong Kong to the Pasteur Foundation Asia (PFA) in support of research on SARS-COV-2.
In keeping with the regional goals of PFA, this donation will support two PhD students at HKU-Pasteur Research Pole and a One Health project to identify potentially zoonotic coronaviruses in the wild animal value chains at the Institut Pasteur of Cambodia.
After discussing research, funding and strategic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, PFA and BNP Paribas committed to further their collaboration to keep Hong Kong at the forefront of biomedical research on infectious diseases.
To support our efforts in the long run to overcome the pandemic and prepare a safe and secure environment for everyone, you can donate to the ongoing campaign: 
Photo: Hugo Leung, CEO BNP Paribas Hong Kong, Alexandre Giorgini, Consul General of France in Hong Kong and Macau, Eric Raynaud, Head of Asia Pacific, Member of the Group Executive Committee, Malik Peiris, Co-Director of the HKU-Pasteur Research Pole, Roberto Bruzzone, Co-Director of the HKU-Pasteur Research Pole, Diane-Sophie Trevoux, Attachée for Education, University and Science, Paul Yang, CEO Corporate & Institutional Banking APAC BNP Paribas, Benoit Etienne, Consul (Culture, Education and Science).

09 Jun 2020

Neutralizing Antibodies Found In The Vast Majority Of Patients With Minor Form Of COVID-19

The immunological response of individuals who contract minor forms of SARS-CoV-2 infection is still poorly characterized. Strasbourg University Hospital and the Institut Pasteur carried out a study showing that nearly all the patients with minor forms of COVID-19 developed antibodies within two weeks of being infected.
Teams from Strasbourg University Hospital and the Institut Pasteur studied 160 volunteers, all members of hospital staff from the two sites of Strasbourg University Hospital, who were infected by SARS-CoV-2 (with a positive diagnosis after a PCR test) and developed minor forms of the illness that did not require admission to hospital.
The presence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies was measured using two techniques, a rapid diagnostic test and a test known as S-Flow developed by the Institut Pasteur. The neutralizing activity of the antibodies was measured with a pseudovirus neutralization assay.
The median time between when the symptoms emerged and the blood samples were taken was 24 days (between 13 and 39 days). The rapid immunodiagnostic test detected antibodies in 153 (95.6%) of the samples and the S-Flow test detected antibodies in 159 (99.4%) of the samples. Neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) were detected in 79%, 92% and 98% of the samples, respectively 13-20, 21-27 and 28-41 days after the emergence of symptoms.
The study demonstrates that SARS-CoV-2 antibodies are present in virtually all hospital staff who previously tested positive by PCR. The neutralizing activity of the antibodies increases over time, suggesting that people are developing potentially protective immunity.
"We knew that individuals with severe forms of the illness were developing antibodies within 15 days of the start of symptoms. We now know that the same is true for those with minor forms, even if the antibody levels are likely to be lower," comments Arnaud Fontanet, one of the authors of the study and Head of the Institut Pasteur's Department of Global Health.
"Our study shows that in most cases, antibody levels are compatible with protection against new infection with SARS-CoV-2 for at least 40 days after the beginning of symptoms. The aim now is to evaluate the long-term persistence of the antibody response and its neutralizing capacity in these healthcare workers," explain Timothée Bruel, a scientist in the Institut Pasteur's Virus and Immunity Unit, and Olivier Schwartz, Head of the Unit.
"The results of this study are very encouraging for people already infected by the virus. Even after developing a mild form of COVID-19, they are capable of generating protective antibodies that are present at least 40 days after the emergence of symptoms. We now need to verify the persistence of these antibodies over time. The results are also good news for future vaccine strategies," concludes Professor Samira Fafi-Kremer, Head of the Virology Department at Strasbourg University Hospital and first author of the study.

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