The last few concepts we need to cover this term, before exam revision, are as follows:
- strategies that deal with the emergence of new diseases in a globally connected world, including the distinction between epidemics and pandemics, the use of scientific knowledge to identify the pathogen, and the types of treatments
The Gene Technology Access Centre have some great new resources, including an online course titled “Outbreak – strategies to deal with a new infectious disease”. This course may take up to three hours, but you can save your work and return to it. You will investigate the emergence of a new infectious disease within a city. You will assume the role of an epidemiologist and use predicitive modelling to predict the spread of the disease and the effectiveness of control measures. You will use models and animations to understand diagnostic kits, PCR, gel electrophoresis and ELISA (Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay)
- the concept of rational drug design in terms of the complementary nature (shape and charge) of small molecules that are designed to bind tightly to target biomolecules (limited to enzymes) resulting in the enzyme’s inhibition and giving rise to a consequential therapeutic benefit, illustrated by the Australian development of the antiviral drug Relenza as a neuraminidase inhibitor
Rational Drug Design is another online course developed by GTAC that I would like you to complete. You will follow in the footsteps of an Australian team of scientists who applied the process of Rational Drug Design to discover a new drug (marketed as Relenza) to treat influenza infections.
- the use of chemical agents against pathogens including the distinction between antibiotics and antiviral drugs with reference to their mode of action and biological effectiveness
Influenza vaccines prevent or mitigate infections. They are designed to induce a protective immune response in the body against the viruses represented in the vaccine. When vaccinated, the immune system of the body produces a specific response, consisting of specific T cells and specific antibodies that fight off the infection when exposure to the virus occurs at a later stage. More importantly, vaccination also leads to the induction of a specific immunological memory against the viruses represented in the vaccine. Upon contact with the virus at a later stage, the immune system is able to mount a specific response much more rapidly than the non-primed immune system.
Antivirals are drugs that can treat people who have already been infected by a virus. They also can be used to prevent or limit infection when given before or shortly after exposure, before illness occurs. A key difference is that the antiviral drug is effective only when administered within a certain time frame before or after exposure and is effective during the time that the drug is being administered.
Antibiotics are medicines that interfere with the reproduction of bacteria and are, therefore, only useful for treating bacterial infections. Viral diseases, like influenza, can therefore not be treated with antibiotics. What is worse, inappropriate use of antibiotics contributes to the development of antibiotic resistance, a growing health concern. Secondary bacterial infections that may occur in tissues that have been damaged by influenza virus infection may well be treated with antibiotics.