The most difficult aspect of my current project — a book about rapid evolution across species from viruses to vertebrates and possibly even robots should I get that far — is turning what could easily be several books into just several chapters. The field is booming. In part, as you all know because we are acutely aware of the health effects of rapid evolution – and in part because we are far more aware of our role in providing the selection pressure encouraging rapid evolution. Whether antimicrobials, antivirals, perhaps vaccines (there is some evidence for certain viruses that vaccination programs may influence virus evolution: see papers by evolutionary biologist Andrew Read’s group and by population biologist and ecologist Katia Koelle and colleagues listed below), insecticides, GMOs, and then of course the granddaddy of them all – shifting climate. One perk of writing about rapid evolution in viruses, is the opportunity to interview those at the forefront of research including Koelle, Read and at the Federal Food and Drug Agency immunology Suzanne Epstein who is working on development of a broadly acting flu vaccine. Epstein’s group seeks to target highly conserved, rather than rapidly evolving antigens. Below is a selection of their papers, and a great report published by the American Academy of Microbiology, the summation of a two-day meeting on the evolution of resistance across species.
Check out the report and Read et al’s papers:
Read and Mackinnon 2008 Pathogen evolution in a vaccinated world
Read et al., 2009 How to make evolution-proof insecticides for malaria control
Luo et al (including Koelle) 2012 The impact of host immune status on with-in host and population dynamics of antigenic immune escape
Federal Food and Drug Administration (for Epstein’s and others work): Universal influenza vaccine effective against H5N1, H3N2, and H1N1 shown effective in pre-clinical trials
Moving Targets: fighting the evolution of resistance in infections, pests and cancer (AAM Report) This also has some nice graphics relating the difference between emergence and spread of resistance, along with lots of other great information.