Health Current Affairs

WHO concerned about MERS virus

The WHO’s Emergency Committee for MERS-CoV has raised concerns about the sharp surge in the number of ‘Middle East Respiratory Syndrome CoronaVirus’(MERS-CoV) cases since March 2014. The sharp increase has been seen particularly in Saudi Arabia and in the United Arabian Emirates. The Emergency Committee has advised a number of measures to be urgently taken, including better national policies for infection prevention and control in healthcare facilities.

Since the virus was first detected in humans 2 years back, a total of 152 people have now died and 495 have been confirmed to have contracted the virus in Saudi Arabia. Recently, cases have also been reported from Egypt, Greece, Malaysia, Philippines, and the U.S. in which infected individuals had travelled there from the Middle East.

Although it is known that the virus is widespread in camels in the Middle East and north-east Africa, it is yet to be ascertained how transmission from animals to humans takes place. As MERS-CoV causes mostly respiratory disease in humans, the common thinking is that such transmission takes place via a respiratory route.

It is also speculated that milking a camel exposes the milker and those around them, as well as the drinker of fresh frothy milk, to an aerosol which may contain MERS-CoV. The WHO has called for studies to better understand the epidemiology of the disease and risk factors related to the spread of the virus.


Effectiveness of Medication is Gene-dependent: Research; that’s why a particular drug is effective for certain people but not for others.

A new research attempts to answer why a particular drug is effective for certain people but not for others. The research team has found that genes play a significant role. Scientists have generated a database associating 145 genetic regions with more than 400 molecules involved in metabolism in human blood. This compendium of genetic links with metabolism provides many new opportunities to understand the molecular pathways underlying associations with common, complex diseases.

Metabolic molecules, known as metabolites, include a wide range of different molecules such as vitamins, lipids, carbohydrates and nucleotides. They constitute parts of, or are the products of, all biological pathways.

This new database of associations between genetic regions and metabolite levels provides a powerful tool to identify genes that could be used in drug and diagnostic tests for a wide range of metabolic disorders. It will help in drug discovery for metabolic disorders and also facilitate scientists to understand the biology behind disease.