Network News

26 May 2017

“Unseen Enemy”, a documentary about emerging infectious diseases screened at the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine

Ebola, Influenza, Zika... “What is it about the 21st century that makes us so particularly vulnerable to epidemics?” This is the question raised by the film, moving across the globe to meet with doctors and researchers who had stepped into the horror of an epidemic and emerged deeply changed.

The documentary by Janet Tobias includes the participation of Arnaud Tarantola: from 2011 to 2016, while he was the Head of the Epidemiology and Public Health Department at the Institut Pasteur in Cambodia in Phnom Penh, he led field investigations and epidemiological studies on avian influenza, working alongside local communities and healthcare workers to provide expertise to national authorities.

It will be screened at the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine (HKAM) on June 2nd 2017 at the Lim Por Yen Lecture Theatre, HKAM Jockey Club Building.
Academics, public health researchers, microbiologists, health officials and medical and health sciences students will be invited to join this special screening event.
Experts from the HKSAR Government, local universities, NAM, as well as the filmmaker will gather to exchange views on the impact of epidemics and discuss how to combat these unseen enemies.
Free admission. Register now!

24 May 2017

Sanofi-Institut Pasteur Awards 2017: call for applications open

Sanofi, a global diversified healthcare leader, and the Institut Pasteur in Paris, an internationally renowned biomedical research centre, jointly created in 2012 the Sanofi - Institut Pasteur Awards to recognize scientists for their past or ongoing research demonstrating real scientific progress in the life sciences.

The Sanofi - Institut Pasteur Awards will be given, during 2017, to recognize 4 scientists who have published outstanding research as principal investigators, more specifically in:

  • Immunology
  • Microbiology & Infection

The participation is by nomination.

This award is open for 4 scientist, including 2 international researchers with prizes amount of 80,000 EUR (700,000 HKD / 90,000 USD) each.

Deadline to submit nominations: Sunday, 23rd July, 2017

Awards Ceremony: Tuesday, 12th December 2017, in Paris

international Jury: Prof. Peter C Agre, Prof. Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Prof. Pascale Cossart, Prof. Alain Fischer, Prof. Jörg H. Hacker, Prof. Jules A. Hoffmann, Dr Gary J. Nabel, Prof. Staffan Normak, Prof. Jeffrey V. Ravetch and Prof. Philippe Sansonetti.


More information.

23 May 2017

What Is the Future of Public Health?

The School of Public Health of the University of Hong Kong will be hosting the 6th Hong Kong Public Health Forum on 27 June 2017.

Date:       27 June 2017 (Tuesday)
Time:      9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (registration starts at 8:45 a.m.)
Venue:    Large Moot Court, 2/F Cheng Yu Tung Tower, HKU Centennial Campus, Pokfulam, Hong Kong

Please register online on or before 10 June 2017.

The Forum comprises two plenary sessions:

  • What is the future for public health globally and in Asia? How can Hong Kong and her neighbors contribute the most in this future?
  • What will students need to learn and how will schools of public health need to approach education to be ready?

Panelists include:
Mr James Chau, WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Health
Professor Keiji Fukuda, Director and Clinical Professor, School of Public Health, HKU
Professor Yuantao Hao, Dean, School of Public Health, Sun Yat-sen University, China
Professor Yoshio Hirota, President, College of Healthcare Management; Director, Clinical Epidemiology Research Center, Medical Co.LTA (SOUSEIKAI); Professor Emeritus, Osaka City University
Professor Didier Houssin, Professor of Surgery and Liver Transplant Specialist, University Paris-Descartes; Former Chairman - Board of   the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES)
Dr Jeffrey Koplan, Vice President for Global Health, Emory Global Health Institute
Professor Gabriel M Leung, Chair Professor of Public Health Medicine and Dean of Medicine, HKU
...and more

Please click on the logo to visit the website for more details and registration.

19 May 2017

Accelerating H7N9 in China: the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai-CAS develops a vaccine candidate

Since the beginning of the year 2017, Chinese health authorities repeatedly warn that H7N9 avian flu propagation is accelerating in the country. The new epidemic wave has begun in October 2016. It has reached half of the country and started to spread across borders. Even if the outbreak still remains "controllable", the spread of the virus in birds is "unusually" fast and new cases rate in humans is the higher since the strain H7N9 has emerged in 2013.

© Reuters

Since the first avian flu confirmed cases in humans in 2013 in mainland China, around 1,500 people have been infected, with almost 600 fatal cases. The current outbreak is the 5th epidemic wave since 2013. It is different from the previous waves because the number of human infections increase abruptly: over 600 cases since October 2016, 121 deaths during the first 3 months of 2017. According to the FAO, 28 provinces and municipalities are affected. In Hong Kong, 5 imported cases have been detected since the begining of the 5th wave. The virus circulates quickly in animals, and is more easily transmitted from birds to humans compared to earlier epidemics. In most cases, symptoms are severe, and 40% of cases have been fatal. No human vaccine is currently available, and most humans are "immunologically naïve" to this novel virus strain.

In this context, colleagues at the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai-Chinese Academy of Sciences have developed a vaccine candidate by cloning the H7N9 haemagglutinin (HA) gene into an adenoviral vector in collaboration with researchers at Soochow and Fudan universities. This vaccine candidate induces a potent immune responses in mice and effectively protects animals from lethal H7N9 viral challenge, involving both HA-specific humoral immunity and cellular immunity.

The publication:

Both haemagglutinin-specific antibody and T cell responses induced by a chimpanzee adenoviral vaccine confer protection against influenza H7N9 viral challenge, Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 1854 (2017)

Wang X, Fu W, Yuan S, Yang X, Song Y, Liu L, Chi Y, Cheng T, Xing M, Zhang Y, Zhang C, Yang Y, Zhu C, Zhang X, Xiong S, Xu J, Zhou D.

18 May 2017

Watch the implosion of cells infected by Zika virus (Institut Pasteur)

Researchers at the Institut Pasteur (Paris) and Inserm (French National Institute of Health and Medical Research) have successfully filmed the infection of human cells by the Zika virus, using video microscopy. Significant morphological changes to the cell were observed, whereas the cytopathic effects of the Zika virus were hitherto poorly characterized. This allows the virus to multiply before the cell implodes.

"We have been able to describe a phenomenon poorly studied, using video microscopy (see video below), electron microscopy and other techniques. We observed that the infected cell reacts by forming massive intracellular vacuoles which leads to the death of the cell", Olivier Schwartz says, head of the Virus and Immunity Unit at the Institut Pasteur.

Read more on The Research Journal of the Institut Pasteur.

17 May 2017

Institut Pasteur: Tracking down resistance antimalarials in Cambodia

The malaria molecular epidemiology unit at the Institut Pasteur in Cambodia is interested in the resistance of the malaria pathogens to the drugs currently in use, in particular to the molecular markers making to identify this resistance. Researchers working in this unit have contributed to the identification of a marker associated with resistance to artemisinin in 2014 and one associated with resistance to piperaquine in 2016. Benoit Witkowski, researcher in this unit, discusses the challenges of antimalarial resistance.

Benoit Witkowski, Institut Pasteur in Cambodia (©Institut Pasteur)

Read the interview of Benoit Witkowski on The Research Journal of Institut Pasteur.

12 May 2017

Immunology: the protective role of neutrophil immune cells in endotoxic shock

A collaborative work led by the Institut Pasteur and Stanford University demonstrates the surprising protective role of neutrophil immune cells in endotoxic shock, the septic shock caused by bacterial toxins. This protective role appears to rely on myeloperoxidase, the main enzyme synthesised by neutrophil immune cells. Researchers have published their findings in The Journal of Experimental Medicine, May 2017.

Septic shock is a serious issue in medicine: it is responsible for half of all death in intensive care services. Characterized by an excessive and uncontrolled inflammatory response to infectious pathogens, septic shock induces a critical reduction in tissue perfusion and abnormal cellular metabolism, leading to acute failure of multiple organs. One of the underlying mechanisms is the endotoxic shock caused by the bacterial toxins during infection: bacterial lipopolysaccharides (LPS) trigger the excessive, prolonged and unbalanced immune response.
In order to fight against bacterial infections, the organism possesses specialised blood cells involved in innate immune response. Among them, the polynuclear neutrophils. Despite their well-established antimicrobial properties, one however thought that neutrophils had a harmful action during exposition to bacterial LPS. Literature describes neutrophils as worsening inflammation and tissue damages associated to LPS.
The results obtained by Pierre Bruhns’ team at the Institut Pasteur (Antibodies in Therapy and Pathology - Inserm U1222, Department of Immunology) and their co-workers at Stanford (Stephen J. Galli, Stanford University School of Medicine, Department of Pathology) show quite the reverse: neutrophils can contribute to optimal host protection after LPS-induced inflammation.
They have developed a new mouse model allowing the induction of neutrophils selective ablation, in a reversible and transient manner. Using this model, they experimentally provoked LPS-induced lethal inflammation and demonstrated a protective role of neutrophils. Reducing their number in mice makes the animals more likely to be subject to the toxic effects of LPS, with acute activation of cytokines production, the molecular messenger of inflammation, and reduction in survival in germ-free animal facilities. More specifically, they showed that the protective capacity of neutrophils relies on a key neutrophil enzyme: myeloperoxidase (MPO). « This protein, which is yet commonly used as an inflammation biomarker, does not reinforce inflammation. On the contrary, it has a protective role » Laurent Reber, co-first author, says. « Patients with low level of MPO actually have a worse prognosis in case of a septic shock » Caitlin Gillis adds, the other co-first author.
« In a way, we have solved a paradox » Reber sums up. « Neutrophils consistently associate antimicrobial activity and capacity to limit the toxicity of bacteria. Our animal model can now allow us to investigate further the function of neutrophils regarding innate and adaptive immunity. We also want to know how MPO acts with the bacterial lipopolysaccharides and why it has no effect on other bacterial toxins. »

Polynuclear neutrophils in blue. Myeloperoxidase (MPO), located inside cytoplasmic granules, in red ©Institut Pasteur

Neutrophil myeloperoxidase diminishes the toxic effects and mortality induced by lipopolysaccharide
Laurent L. Reber, Caitlin M. Gillis, Philipp Starkl, Friederike Jönsson, Riccardo Sibilano, Thomas Marichal, Nicolas Gaudenzio, Marion Bérard, Stephan Rogalla, Christopher H. Contag, Pierre Bruhns, Stephen J. Galli
J Exp Med. 2017 May 1; 214(5): 1249–1258. doi: 10.1084/jem.20161238
PMCID: PMC5413333 (delayed release - embargo - will be available in PMC on November 1, 2017)

From Institut Pasteur press release (27 April 2017) - in French

10 May 2017

Institut Pasteur in Cambodia: prestigious scholarship awarded to Tineke Cantaert

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has teamed up with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation to develop scientific talent around the world.

Tineke Cantaert, a researcher working at the Institut Pasteur in Cambodia is among the 41 international young researchers laureates of a scholarship awarded by a group of philanthropies. She seeks to understand how the immune system responds to infection by flaviviruses such as Dengue and Zika.

Read more on the website of the Institut Pasteur in Cambodia

02 May 2017

A new CEO at the Institut Pasteur Korea

Institut Pasteur Korea (IPK) has appointed Dr. Wang-Shick Ryu as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) effective 1 May, 2017.
“Under Dr. Ryu‘s leadership and strategic vision, IPK will take a step forward in many drug discovery research areas,” said Chairman Uhtaek Oh, IPK Board of Directors. He added, “Especially now that IPK has a virus expert in its new CEO, we expect there will be a lot of progress made in research of infectious viruses”.

The new CEO, Dr. Ryu, has worked in close partnership with IPK on hepatitis B virus research and other virus infectious diseases continuously for more than a decade. Dr. Ryu emphasized, “New emerging viruses like avian influenza (AI), MERS virus, Zika virus, and etc., have been enormously damaging nationally and internationally. Therefore, it is an important time to prepare surveillance programs and accelerate infectious diseases research to prevent viruses from spreading.” Adding, “As a global basic research institute, we will accelerate infectious diseases and drug discovery research through collaborations with national and international organizations.”

IPK is a member of the Institut Pasteur International Network.

©Institut Pasteur Korea

From IPK's press release.