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U.S. looking past Ebola to prepare for next outbreak

November 23, 2014 8:59 am | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The next Ebola or the next SARS. Maybe even the next HIV. Even before the Ebola epidemic in West Africa is brought under control, public health officials are girding for the next health disaster. Ebola sprang from one of those blind spots, in an area that lacks the health systems needed to detect an outbreak before it becomes a crisis.

How mutant gene causes deafness

November 21, 2014 9:47 am | by The Scripps Research Institute | News | Comments

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have discovered how one gene is essential to hearing, uncovering a cause of deafness and suggesting new avenues for therapies. The new study, published in Neuron, shows how mutations in a gene called Tmie can cause deafness from birth. Underlining the critical nature of their findings, researchers were able to reintroduce the gene in mice and restore the process underpinning hearing.

Biomarker could provide early warning of kidney disease in cats

November 21, 2014 8:27 am | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from Oregon State Univ. and other institutions have developed a new biomarker called “SDMA” that can provide earlier identification of chronic kidney disease in cats, which is one of the leading causes of their death. A new test based on this biomarker, when commercialized, should help pet owners and their veterinarians watch for this problem through periodic checkups, and treat it with diet or other therapies.

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U.S. approves new, hard-to-abuse hydrocodone pill

November 20, 2014 6:00 pm | by Matthew Perrone - AP Health Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

U.S. government health regulators on Thursday approved the first hard-to-abuse version of the painkiller hydrocodone, offering an alternative to a similar medication that has been widely criticized for lacking such safeguards. The FDA approved Purdue Pharma's Hysingla ER for patients with severe, round-the-clock pain that cannot be managed with other treatments.

Many older brains have plasticity, but in a different place

November 20, 2014 8:38 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

A widely presumed problem of aging is that the brain becomes less flexible or plastic, and that learning may therefore become more difficult. A new study led by Brown Univ. researchers contradicts that notion with a finding that plasticity did occur in seniors who learned a task well, but it occurred in a different part of the brain than in younger people.

Government wants more clinical trial results made public

November 19, 2014 3:00 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The government proposed new rules Wednesday to make it easier for doctors and patients to learn if clinical trials of treatments worked or not. Thousands of Americans participate in clinical trials every year, testing new treatments, comparing old ones or helping to uncover general knowledge about health. Many of the studies are reported in scientific journals and trumpeted in the news.

Immune system surprise hints at new strategy for fighting HIV

November 19, 2014 10:53 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

The discovery of the innate immunity system’s role in mobilizing the body’s defenses against invading microorganisms has been long studied at Yale Univ. Now in Nature Immunology, Yale researchers have discovered a surprising twist to the story that may open a new avenue in the fight against HIV.

Hormone points to potential treatment for metabolic disorders

November 19, 2014 8:13 am | by Laura Williams, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Michigan have discovered how a previously unknown hormone serves as a messenger from fat cells to the liver and are investigating the potential of developing a new treatment for metabolic disorders. Jiandie Lin of the Life Sciences Institute described how in mice the hormone, NRG4, is secreted by so-called brown fat cells and communicates with the liver to regulate the conversion of sugar into fat.

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Study will test survivors' blood to treat Ebola

November 18, 2014 11:00 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A coalition of companies and aid groups announced plans Tuesday to test experimental drugs and collect blood plasma from Ebola survivors to treat new victims of the disease in West Africa. Plasma from survivors contains antibodies, substances the immune system makes to fight the virus.

Scientists reveal weak spots in Ebola’s defenses

November 18, 2014 9:27 am | by The Scripps Research Institute | News | Comments

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have identified weak spots on the surface of Ebola virus that are targeted by the antibodies in ZMapp, the experimental drug cocktail administered to several patients during the recent Ebola outbreak. The study provides a revealing 3-D picture of how the ZMapp antibodies bind to Ebola virus.

Chemical in coffee may help prevent obesity-related disease

November 17, 2014 10:33 am | by James Hataway, Univ. of Georgia | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Georgia have discovered that a chemical compound commonly found in coffee may help prevent some of the damaging effects of obesity. In a recently published paper published, scientists found that chlorogenic acid, or CGA, significantly reduced insulin resistance and accumulation of fat in the livers of mice who were fed a high-fat diet.

Hand transplant research sheds light on touch

November 17, 2014 8:52 am | by Associated Press, Lauran Neergaard | News | Comments

Recovery of feeling can gradually improve for years after a hand transplant, suggests a small study that points to changes in the brain, not just the new hand, as a reason. Research presented at a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience sheds light on how the brain processes the sense of touch, and adapts when it goes awry. The work could offer clues to rehabilitation after stroke, brain injury, maybe one day even spinal cord injury.

Test developed for rapid diagnosis of bloodstream infection

November 14, 2014 8:20 am | by Univ. of California, Irvine | News | Comments

A new bloodstream infection test created by Univ. of California, Irvine researchers can speed up diagnosis times with unprecedented accuracy, allowing physicians to treat patients with potentially deadly ailments more promptly and effectively. The technology, called Integrated Comprehensive Droplet Digital Detection, or IC 3D, can detect bacteria in milliliters of blood with single-cell sensitivity in 90 mins; no cell culture is needed.

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Drugging the undruggable

November 13, 2014 11:07 am | by Univ. of Cambridge | News | Comments

A trawl through a library of more than 50,000 small molecules has identified a potential candidate to inhibit the spread of cancer cells throughout the body. Reported in Nature Communications, the molecule targets a mechanism of tumor development that had previously been considered “undruggable” and could open the door to further promising new candidates.

Gene study boosts interest in heart drug Zetia

November 12, 2014 5:59 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Scientists have discovered gene mutations that give people naturally lower cholesterol levels and cut their risk of heart disease in half. That discovery may have a big implication: A blockbuster drug that mimics these mutations has long been sold without evidence that it cuts the chance of heart disease. Results of a large study that looked for that evidence will be revealed on Monday.

Ebola workers ask Congress for help

November 12, 2014 3:58 am | by Lauran Neergaard - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Health workers on the front line of the Ebola crisis say the need for urgent help isn't letting up, as Congress begins considering President Barack Obama's $6.2 billion emergency aid request to fight the disease. Despite reports that the number of infections is slowing in some parts of West Africa, cases still are rising in other areas.

Microtubes create cozy space for neurons to grow

November 11, 2014 2:25 pm | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | Videos | Comments

Tiny, thin microtubes could provide a scaffold for neuron cultures to grow so that researchers can study neural networks, their growth and repair, yielding insights into treatment for degenerative neurological conditions or restoring nerve connections after injury. Researchers created the microtube platform to study neuron growth.

“Antibiogram” use in nursing facilities could improve antibiotic use

November 11, 2014 10:05 am | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Use of “antibiograms” in skilled nursing facilities could improve antibiotic effectiveness and help address problems with antibiotic resistance. Antibiograms are tools that aid health care practitioners in prescribing antibiotics in local populations. They are based on information from microbiology laboratory tests and provide information on how likely a certain antibiotic is to effectively treat a particular infection.

How human cells become immortal

November 10, 2014 8:35 am | by Dan Krotz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Every day, some of your cells stop dividing, and that’s a good thing. Cells that proliferate indefinitely are immortal, an essential early step in the development of most malignant tumors. Despite its importance in cancer, the process of cell immortalization is poorly understood. That’s because scientists have lacked a good way to study immortalization in human cells as it occurs during cancer progression.

Ebola volunteers wrestle with quarantine mandates

November 8, 2014 9:58 am | by Jennifer Peltz - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Dr. Robert Fuller didn't hesitate to go to Indonesia to treat survivors of the 2004 tsunami, to Haiti to help after the 2010 earthquake or to the Philippines after a devastating typhoon last year. But he's given up on going to West Africa to care for Ebola patients this winter. He could make the six-week commitment sought by his go-to aid organization, International Medical Corps.

A promising strategy against HIV

November 7, 2014 10:09 am | by B. D. Colen, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers at Massachusetts General (MGH) and Boston Children’s hospitals (BCH) for the first time have used a relatively new gene-editing technique to create what could prove to be an effective technique for blocking HIV from invading and destroying patients’ immune systems.

Satellites assist in Ebola management

November 7, 2014 9:37 am | by UK Space Agency | News | Comments

The UK's International Charter for Space and Major Disasters (the Charter) is an international agreement between space agencies to provide free satellite images in the immediate aftermath of natural or man-made disasters.         

Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease may share deep roots

November 5, 2014 7:54 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease appear to have a lot in common. They share risk factors such as obesity and they often occur together. If they also share the same genetic underpinings, then doctors could devise a way to treat them together too. With that hope in mind, scientists applied multiple layers of analysis to the genomics of more than 15,000 women.

Inhaled Ebola vaccine may offer long-term protection from virus

November 3, 2014 1:43 pm | by J.B. Bird, Univ. of Texas at Austin | News | Comments

A potentially breathable, respiratory vaccine in development has been shown to provide long-term protection for non-human primates against the deadly Ebola virus. Results from a recent pre-clinical study represent the only proof to date that a single dose of a non-injectable vaccine platform for Ebola is long lasting, which could have significant global implications in controlling future outbreaks.

Experts, models predict more U.S. Ebola cases

November 3, 2014 10:33 am | by Associated Press, Martha Mendoza | News | Comments

Top medical experts studying the spread of Ebola say the public should expect more cases to emerge in the U.S. by year's end as infected people arrive here from West Africa, including American doctors and nurses returning from the hot zone and people fleeing from the deadly disease. But how many cases?

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