Stories by Eileen Drage O'Reilly

NIAID working on enterovirus vaccine to fight acute flaccid myelitis

Photo of Enterovirus D-68, a suspect in causing AFM
Electron microscope photo of EV-D68, a suspect in causing AFM. Photo: Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Yiting Zhang/CDC

Recent research showing stronger links between an enterovirus and the polio-like illness called acute flaccid myelitis has led the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to start work on an EV-D68 vaccine, director Anthony Fauci tells Axios.

Why it matters: While rare, the devastating illness AFM suddenly strikes children, causing abrupt muscle weakness, paralysis or sometimes death. Researchers have been on the hunt for its cause — and while not definitive, the link with enterovirus D68 has grown stronger, including via a new study in the peer-reviewed journal mBio.

Ebola researchers narrow trial after 2 of 4 treatments show early success

Photo of 8 year old getting certificate outside an Ebola Treatment Center in Congo declaring he is Ebola free
Prince, 8, is handed a certificate confirming he is Ebola-free, outside an Ebola treatment center in Beni, DRC. Photo: Sally Hayden/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Public health officials announced Monday they had gathered enough preliminary data to determine that 2 of the 4 investigational treatments for Ebola performed better than the others. The current trial in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been dropped to focus on a new extension trial for the 2 monoclonal antibodies.

Why it matters: There are currently no FDA-approved treatments for Ebola. Researchers testing drugs during the DRC's largest outbreak found a cocktail of 3 antibodies called REGN-EB3 was most effective, followed closely by monoclonal antibody 114.

Scientists discover thousands of tiny proteins within microbiome

Photo of gut microbes from IBM
Gut microbiome. Photo: IBM/Flickr via creative commons

Researchers say they've discovered more than 4,000 new, small protein families generated in the human microbiome, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Cell.

Why it matters: The human microbiome is thought to help maintain health but also is linked to obesity-related cancers, Alzheimer's and how cancer therapies work. The function of these newly found tiny proteins still needs to be determined, but the authors believe their size could allow them to be leveraged to deliver drugs.