Health Highlights: June 27, 2018

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Detailed Image of Zika Virus Could Lead to Better Vaccines and Treatments

The most detailed image yet of the Zika virus could lead to the creation of more effective vaccines and treatments, according to scientists.

The team combined tens of thousands of two-dimensional images to construct a three-dimensional model of Zika’s structure, The New York Times reported.

The image may help scientists detect pockets on the surface of the virus where drug molecules could attach.

The research was published in the journal Structure.

Zika triggered a worldwide health crisis in 2015 and 2016 and thousands of women who were infected with the virus during pregnancy had babies with severe birth defects, The Times reported.


Shortages Arise for New Shingles Vaccine

Supplies of a new and more effective shingles vaccine are running low in the United States.

Shingrix is used to protect adults older than 50 from the condition, which causes a painful rash and nerve pain. The vaccine was approved in the fall by the Food and Drug Administration and is the preferred vaccine recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Washington Post reported.

Supplies of Shingrix have not kept pace with demand. The CDC began reporting shortages of the vaccine in early May. Order limits and shipping delays are expected to continue through 2018, according to Shingrix maker GlaxoSmithKline, which is working to increase supply.

It’s likely that the shortage of Shingrix will discussed at Wednesday’s regularly scheduled meeting of a federal panel that advises the CDC on immunizations, according to the Post.

About 1 in 3 adults will develop shingles, which is caused by the reactivation of the same virus that causes chickenpox.

Compared to the older single-shot shingles vaccine Zostavax that’s been in use since 2006, the new two-dose Shingrix vaccine provides greater protection (more than 90 percent) and lasts longer, the Post reported.


New Flu Drug Fast-Tracked by FDA

A company developing a one-dose pill to treat flu says the drug has been fast-tracked by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA granted priority review to baloxavir marboxil and will decide whether to approve it by the end of this year, according to drug maker Genentech, NBC News reported.

If approved, the drug would be the first new flu drug to be introduced in the U.S. in years, and the first in 20 years with a different approach to fighting the flu. The drug, which was developed with the support of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is already approved in Japan.

Flu drugs currently available in the U.S. include the pill Tamiflu; an inhalable product Relenza, and an injectable drug called peramivir. All three are designed to stop the flu virus from spreading inside the body.

Baloxavir uses a different approach. It interferes with a protein inside the flu virus, the Post reported.

Posted: June 2018

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