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VA Researching for You

Infectious Diseases

Infectious diseases are disorders caused by microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. Microorganisms that cause disease are collectively caused pathogens.

While many organisms live in and on humans, and are normally harmless or even helpful, some can cause disease under certain conditions. They do so either by disrupting the body's normal processes or by stimulating the immune system to produce a defensive response, resulting in high fever, inflammation, and other symptoms.

Some infectious diseases can be passed from person to person through contact with bodily fluids, coughing, sneezing, and other methods. Others are transmitted from insect or animal bites, or by ingesting contaminated food or water or other environmental exposures.

VA’s Major Infectious Diseases Accomplishments:

Developed and tested effective therapies for tuberculosis through multicenter clinical trials that led to the development of the VA Cooperative Studies Program
2005: Demonstrated the effectiveness of a new vaccine for shingles, a painful skin and nerve infection affecting older adults
2011: Published findings showing a 60 percent or greater decrease in MRSA infections from a VA-wide infection control initiative
2014: Learned that treatment for pneumonia that included the antibiotic azithromycin (Zithromax) was associated with a significantly lower risk of death and a slightly increased risk of heart attack

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Below is a news story that illustrates VA’s commitment to advancing technology and research initiatives to benefit our nation’s Veterans.

Photo of health care worker in full protective gear taking a patients temperatureVA is sponsoring or partnering with industry or other federal agencies on a number of clinical trials on COVID-19. (Photo: ©iStock/sturti)

VA Research works with industry, other partners to launch COVID-19 clinical trials

As the COVID-19 crisis began to unfold across the country, VA was invited to take part in a clinical trial of remdesivir, a promising but not yet FDA-approved treatment for COVID-19. Within a record-setting four days, on March 18, the first VA site in the trial, Palo Alto, was approved to start enrolling Veterans hospitalized with the illness.

“This was a huge milestone for VA research—we cut start-up time for collaborative research from months to days,” says Dr. Molly Klote, a retired Army Medical Corps colonel who now runs the Office of Research Policy, Protections, and Education, part of VA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD).

The multisite trial is sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. That agency is led by Dr. Anthony Fauci, now a household name for his role in the White House response to the pandemic. Read more..

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