Publications by authors named "Orlando Cenciarelli"

10 Publications

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COVID-19 research priorities for non-pharmaceutical public health and social measures.

Epidemiol Infect 2021 04 5;149:e87. Epub 2021 Apr 5.

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Gustav III:s boulevard 40, 169 73Solna, Sweden.

Europe is in the midst of a COVID-19 epidemic and a number of non-pharmaceutical public health and social measures have been implemented, in order to contain the transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. These measures are fundamental elements of the public health approach to controlling transmission but have proven not to be sufficiently effective. Therefore, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has conducted an assessment of research gaps that can help inform policy decisions regarding the COVID-19 response. We have identified research gaps in the area of non-pharmaceutical measures, physical distancing, contact tracing, transmission, communication, mental health, seasonality and environment/climate, surveillance and behavioural aspects of COVID-19. This prioritisation exercise is a step towards the global efforts of developing a coherent research road map in coping with the current epidemic but also developing preparedness measures for the next unexpected epidemic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0950268821000716DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8047543PMC
April 2021

Testing the identification effectiveness of an unknown outbreak of the Infectious Diseases Seeker (IDS) using and comparing the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak with the past SARS and MERS epidemics.

J Infect Public Health 2021 Jan 9;14(1):123-130. Epub 2020 Dec 9.

Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Rome "Tor Vergata", Italy.

Background: The aim of this research is to assess the predictive accuracy of the Infectious Diseases Seeker (IDS) - an innovative tool for prompt identification of the causative agent of infectious diseases during outbreaks - when field epidemiological data collected from a novel outbreak of unknown origin are analysed by the tool. For this reason, it has been taken into account the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, which began in China at the end of December 2019, has rapidly spread around the globe, and it has led to a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), declared to the 30th of January 2020 by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Methods: The IDS takes advantage of an off-line database, built before the COVID-19 pandemic, which represents a pivotal characteristic for working without an internet connection. The software has been tested using the epidemiological data available in different and progressive stages of the COVID-19 outbreak. As a comparison, the results of the tests performed using the epidemiological data from the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) epidemic in 2002 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) epidemic in 2012, are shown.

Results: The overall outcomes provided by the software are comforting, as a matter of the fact that IDS has identified with a good accuracy the SARS and MERS epidemics (over 90%), while, as expected, it has not provided erroneous and equivocal readings after the elaboration COVID-19 epidemic data.

Conclusions: Even though IDS has not recognized the COVID-19 epidemic, it has not given to the end user a false result and wrong interpretation, as expected by the developers. For this reason, IDS reveals itself as useful software to identify a possible epidemic or outbreak. Thus, the intention of developers is to plan, once the software will be released, dedicated updates and upgrades of the database (e.g., SARS-CoV-2) in order to keep this tool increasingly useful and applicable to reality.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jiph.2020.11.014DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7725062PMC
January 2021

West Nile virus in Europe: after action reviews of preparedness and response to the 2018 transmission season in Italy, Slovenia, Serbia and Greece.

Global Health 2020 05 18;16(1):47. Epub 2020 May 18.

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Stockholm, Sweden.

Background: After Action Reviews (AAR) with a One Health perspective were performed in Slovenia, Italy, Serbia and Greece following a severe West Nile virus (WNV) transmission season in 2018. A protocol combining traditional techniques and organizational process analysis was developed and then implemented in each country.

Results: In 2018, response to the unusually intense transmission season of WNV in Slovenia, Italy, Serbia and Greece took place through routine response mechanisms. None of the four countries declared a national or subnational emergency. We found a very strong consensus on the strengths identified in responding to this event. All countries indicated the availability of One Health Plans for surveillance and response; very high laboratory diagnostic capacity in the human, veterinary and entomology sectors and strong inter-sectoral collaboration with strong commitment of engaged institutions as critical in the management of the event. Finally, countries implementing One Health surveillance for WNV (in terms of early warning and early activation of prevention measures) consistently reported a positive impact on their activities, in particular when combining mosquito and bird surveillance with surveillance of cases in humans and equids. Recurring priority areas for improvement included: increasing knowledge on vector-control measures, ensuring the sustainability of vector monitoring and surveillance, and improving capacity to manage media pressure.

Conclusions: The AARs presented here demonstrate the benefit of cross-sectoral and cross-disciplinary approaches to preparedness for West Nile virus outbreaks in Europe. In the coming years, priorities include fostering and strengthening arrangements that: enable coordinated One Health surveillance and response during WNV transmission seasons; ensure adequate laboratory capacities; strengthen risk communication; and fund longer-term research to address the knowledge gaps identified in this study.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12992-020-00568-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7236470PMC
May 2020

Biosecurity Threat Posed by Botulinum Toxin.

Toxins (Basel) 2019 11 20;11(12). Epub 2019 Nov 20.

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Gustav III:s Boulevard 40, 169 73 Solna, Sweden.

The deliberate release of biological agents with terrorist or criminal intent continues to pose concerns in the current geopolitical situation. Therefore, attention is still needed to ensure preparedness against the potential use of pathogens as unconventional weapons. Botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) is one such biological threat, characterized by an extremely low lethal dose, high morbidity and mortality when appropriately disseminated, and the capacity to cause panic and social disruption. This paper addresses the risks of a potential release of the botulinum neurotoxin and summarizes the relevant aspects of the threat.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120681DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6950065PMC
November 2019

Biological Dual-Use Research and Synthetic Biology of Yeast.

Sci Eng Ethics 2017 04 20;23(2):365-374. Epub 2016 Jun 20.

Department of Biology and Biotechnology, La Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.

In recent years, the publication of the studies on the transmissibility in mammals of the H5N1 influenza virus and synthetic genomes has triggered heated and concerned debate within the community of scientists on biological dual-use research; these papers have raised the awareness that, in some cases, fundamental research could be directed to harmful experiments, with the purpose of developing a weapon that could be used by a bioterrorist. Here is presented an overview regarding the dual-use concept and its related international agreements which underlines the work of the Australia Group (AG) Export Control Regime. It is hoped that the principles and activities of the AG, that focuses on export control of chemical and biological dual-use materials, will spread and become well known to academic researchers in different countries, as they exchange biological materials (i.e. plasmids, strains, antibodies, nucleic acids) and scientific papers. To this extent, and with the aim of drawing the attention of the scientific community that works with yeast to the so called Dual-Use Research of Concern, this article reports case studies on biological dual-use research and discusses a synthetic biology applied to the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, namely the construction of the first eukaryotic synthetic chromosome of yeast and the use of yeast cells as a factory to produce opiates. Since this organism is considered harmless and is not included in any list of biological agents, yeast researchers should take simple actions in the future to avoid the sharing of strains and advanced technology with suspicious individuals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11948-016-9774-1DOI Listing
April 2017

Viral bioterrorism: Learning the lesson of Ebola virus in West Africa 2013-2015.

Virus Res 2015 Dec 8;210:318-26. Epub 2015 Sep 8.

Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy; Didactical Board of the International Master Courses in Protection Against CBRNe events, Department of Industrial Engineering and School of Medicine and Surgery, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy.

Among the potential biological agents suitable as a weapon, Ebola virus represents a major concern. Classified by the CDC as a category A biological agent, Ebola virus causes severe hemorrhagic fever, characterized by high case-fatality rate; to date, no vaccine or approved therapy is available. The EVD epidemic, which broke out in West Africa since the late 2013, has got the issue of the possible use of Ebola virus as biological warfare agent (BWA) to come to the fore once again. In fact, due to its high case-fatality rate, population currently associates this pathogen to a real and tangible threat. Therefore, its use as biological agent by terrorist groups with offensive purpose could have serious repercussions from a psychosocial point of view as well as on closely sanitary level. In this paper, after an initial study of the main characteristics of Ebola virus, its potential as a BWA was evaluated. Furthermore, given the spread of the epidemic in West Africa in 2014 and 2015, the potential dissemination of the virus from an urban setting was evaluated. Finally, it was considered the actual possibility to use this agent as BWA in different scenarios, and the potential effects on one or more nation's stability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.virusres.2015.09.002DOI Listing
December 2015

Ultrasoft Alginate Hydrogels Support Long-Term Three-Dimensional Functional Neuronal Networks.

Tissue Eng Part A 2015 Aug 29;21(15-16):2177-85. Epub 2015 May 29.

1 Cartilage Engineering+Regeneration , ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland .

Neuron development and function are exquisitely sensitive to the mechanical properties of their surroundings. Three-dimensional (3D) cultures are therefore being explored as they better mimic the features of the native extracellular matrix. Limitations of existing 3D culture models include poorly defined composition, rapid degradation, and suboptimal biocompatibility. Here we show that ionically cross-linked ultrasoft hydrogels made from unmodified alginate can potently promote neuritogenesis. Alginate hydrogels were characterized mechanically and a remarkable range of stiffness (10-4000 Pa) could be produced by varying the macromer content (0.1-0.4% w/v) and CaCl2 concentration. Dissociated rat embryonic cortical neurons encapsulated within the softest of the hydrogels (0.1% w/v, 10 mM CaCl2) showed excellent viability, extensive formation of axons and dendrites, and long-term activity as determined by calcium imaging. In conclusion, alginate is an off-the-shelf, easy to handle, and inexpensive material, which can be used to make ultrasoft hydrogels for the formation of stable and functional 3D neuronal networks. This 3D culture system could have important applications in neuropharmacology, toxicology, and regenerative medicine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/ten.TEA.2014.0518DOI Listing
August 2015

Ebola virus disease 2013-2014 outbreak in west Africa: an analysis of the epidemic spread and response.

Int J Microbiol 2015 17;2015:769121. Epub 2015 Mar 17.

Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Via del Politecnico 1, 00173 Rome, Italy ; International Master Courses in Protection against CBRNe Events, Department of Industrial Engineering and School of Medicine and Surgery, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Via del Politecnico 1, 00173 Rome, Italy.

The Ebola virus epidemic burst in West Africa in late 2013, started in Guinea, reached in a few months an alarming diffusion, actually involving several countries (Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Senegal, and Mali). Guinea and Liberia, the first nations affected by the outbreak, have put in place measures to contain the spread, supported by international organizations; then they were followed by the other nations affected. In the present EVD outbreak, the geographical spread of the virus has followed a new route: the achievement of large urban areas at an early stage of the epidemic has led to an unprecedented diffusion, featuring the largest outbreak of EVD of all time. This has caused significant concerns all over the world: the potential reaching of far countries from endemic areas, mainly through fast transports, induced several countries to issue information documents and health supervision for individuals going to or coming from the areas at risk. In this paper the geographical spread of the epidemic was analyzed, assessing the sequential appearance of cases by geographic area, considering the increase in cases and mortality according to affected nations. The measures implemented by each government and international organizations to contain the outbreak, and their effectiveness, were also evaluated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/769121DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4380098PMC
April 2015

Synergistic effect of nitazoxanide with neuraminidase inhibitors against influenza A viruses in vitro.

Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2015 Feb 1;59(2):1061-9. Epub 2014 Dec 1.

Department of Biology, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy Institute of Translational Pharmacology, CNR, Rome, Italy

The emergence of drug-resistant influenza A virus (IAV) strains represents a serious threat to global human health and underscores the need for novel approaches to anti-influenza chemotherapy. Combination therapy with drugs affecting different IAV targets represents an attractive option for influenza treatment. We have previously shown that the thiazolide anti-infective nitazoxanide (NTZ) inhibits H1N1 IAV replication by selectively blocking viral hemagglutinin maturation. Herein we investigate the anti-influenza activity of NTZ against a wide range of human and avian IAVs (H1N1, H3N2, H5N9, H7N1), including amantadine-resistant and oseltamivir-resistant strains, in vitro. We also investigate whether therapy with NTZ in combination with the neuraminidase inhibitors oseltamivir and zanamivir exerts synergistic, additive, or antagonistic antiviral effects against influenza viruses. NTZ was effective against all IAVs tested, with 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50s) ranging from 0.9 to 3.2 μM, and selectivity indexes (SIs) ranging from >50 to >160, depending on the strain and the multiplicity of infection (MOI). Combination therapy studies were performed in cell culture-based assays using A/Puerto Rico/8/1934 (H1N1), A/WSN/1933 (H1N1), or avian A/chicken/Italy/9097/1997 (H5N9) IAVs; dose-effect analysis and synergism/antagonism quantification were performed using isobologram analysis according to the Chou-Talalay method. Combination index (CI) analysis indicated that NTZ and oseltamivir combination treatment was synergistic against A/Puerto Rico/8/1934 (H1N1) and A/WSN/1933 (H1N1) IAVs, with CI values ranging between 0.39 and 0.63, independently of the MOI used. Similar results were obtained when NTZ was administered in combination with zanamivir (CI=0.3 to 0.48). NTZ-oseltamivir combination treatment was synergistic also against the avian A/chicken/Italy/9097/1997 (H5N9) IAV (CI=0.18 to 0.31). Taken together, the results suggest that regimens that combine neuraminidase inhibitors and nitazoxanide exert synergistic anti-influenza effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AAC.03947-14DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4335909PMC
February 2015