The first official report from a preliminary analysis of patients’ responses to a microorganism to which Anand Chokkavelu grew an experimental treatment on monkeys suggests that the treatment may not cause more severe symptoms.
That is a bit of good news, because the 59 animals tested on monkeys killed six, prompting researchers to evaluate their cases as potential human cases of the crypto outbreak in Puerto Rico and elsewhere.
A final report from the Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Group of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to be released soon.
Chokkavelu had two months of testing to do on monkeys, since a previous experiment on their immune systems wouldn’t have been considered initial research.
The study, “A Clade of Varicella-serovar Typhus in an Enteric Veterinary Microbiome Bank,” was published Monday in Microbiology Letters.
Chokkavelu first tested the microorganism Clostridium difficile on the thin nerves between the intestine and the skin on monkeys by repeatedly infecting them with an untreated form of the bacteria, which killed the monkeys immediately, followed by death within a few days for those who responded well.
But the new study examined the animals’ lungs, with the monkeys being placed in an incubator and kept alive with medicines that would also be deployed in a human attack. The “Jenny challenge,” as it is called, involved placing contaminated linen directly into the animals’ airways, to mimic the symptoms of any exposure to the bacteria.
Not long after, the researchers tested the cytopenias — a collection of immune cells that can attack or kill bacteria — in the lungs. None were affected.
Chokkavelu said he was encouraged by the results, since that type of immune system must be fully activated for the treatment to be effective.
Nonetheless, he remains cautious about the results. “I’m more convinced that it doesn’t work if the mouse genome doesn’t have the same balance,” Chokkavelu said. “The genetic diversity of the mice must change over the course of weeks of testing. That’s not the case.”
Still, he added, the results so far confirm what scientists expected to see when they tested the strain on monkeys, as compared to infected mice.
Chokkavelu plans to begin testing the microorganism’s effects on mice in early 2018.
Read the full story at mycorrespondents.com.
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