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New monkey model for AIDS offers promise for medical research

June 19, 2014 4:38 pm | by Zach Veilleux, The Rockefeller Univ. | News | Comments

HIV-1, the virus responsible for most cases of AIDS, is a very selective virus. It doesn’t readily infect species other than its usual hosts. While this would qualify as good news for most mammals, for humans this fact has made the search for effective treatments and vaccines for AIDS that much more difficult; without an accurate animal model of the disease, researchers have had few options for clinical studies of the virus.

How a new approach to funding Alzheimer’s research could pay off

June 19, 2014 10:46 am | by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office | News | Comments

More than 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, the affliction that erodes memory and other mental capacities, but no drugs targeting the disease have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since 2003. Now a paper by an Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor suggests that a revamped way of financing Alzheimer’s research could spur the development of useful new drugs for the illness.

Asthma rates drop, but experts not breathing easier

June 19, 2014 12:21 am | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A new survey suggests asthma in the U.S. may finally be on the decline. But the results are so surprising that health officials are cautious about claiming a downturn. The findings come from a large national health survey conducted last year. The drop could just be an unexplained statistical blip.

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Feds seek ways to expand use of addiction drug

June 18, 2014 2:22 pm | by Matthew Perrone - AP Health Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The government's top drug abuse experts are struggling to find ways to expand use of a medicine widely considered the best therapy for treating heroin and painkiller addiction, but which remains underused. Senator Carl Levin of Michigan on Wednesday pressed government officials and agencies to increase access to the buprenorphine, a drug which helps addicts control drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Findings point toward first therapy for Lou Gehrig’s disease

June 13, 2014 7:36 am | News | Comments

Researchers have determined that a copper compound known for decades may form the basis for a therapy for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease. In a new study, scientists showed in laboratory animal tests that oral intake of this compound significantly extended the lifespan and improved the locomotor function of transgenic mice that are genetically engineered to develop this debilitating and terminal disease.

Proliferation cues “natural killer” cells for job change

June 12, 2014 12:13 pm | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Why would already abundant “natural killer” cells proliferate even further after subduing an infection? It’s been a biological mystery for 30 years. But now Brown Univ. scientists have an answer: After proliferation, the cells switch from marshaling the immune response to calming it down.

Brain retains signs of childhood trauma

June 12, 2014 11:20 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

People abused as children show reduced brain volume in regions governing emotion, learning and memory, deficits that make them more vulnerable to relapse—and relapses of greater severity—if they become substance abusers, a new study by Yale School of Medicine researchers shows. The studyidentifies potential biological markers that can identify addicts at high risk of relapse.

A key step toward a safer strep vaccine

June 12, 2014 8:17 am | News | Comments

An international team of scientists, led by researchers at the Univ. of California, San Diego School of Medicine, have identified the genes encoding a molecule that famously defines Group A Streptococcus (strep), a pathogenic bacterial species responsible for more than 700 million infections worldwide each year.

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Increase in use of costly insulin analogs in type 2 diabetes

June 11, 2014 9:25 am | by Helen Dodson, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

There has been a dramatic increase in use of costly insulin analogs by type 2 diabetes patients, despite the lack of evidence that they are appreciably better than human synthetic insulin, according to Yale School of Medicine researchers. Further, overall insulin use by patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) increased by 50% in the previous decade.

Study: Red meat possibly linked to breast cancer

June 11, 2014 9:22 am | by Maria Cheng - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Women who often indulge their cravings for hamburgers, steaks and other red meat may have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer, a new study suggests. Doctors have long warned that a diet loaded with red meat is linked to cancers including those of the colon and pancreas, but there has been less evidence for its role in breast cancer.

Inside the adult ADHD brain

June 11, 2014 8:49 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

About 11% of school-age children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ADHD. While many eventually “outgrow” the disorder, some carry their difficulties into adulthood. In the first study to compare patterns of brain activity in adults who recovered from childhood ADHD and those who didn’t, neuroscientists have discovered key differences in a brain communication network that is active when the brain is at wakeful rest.

Obesity surgery may "cure" diabetes for 15 years

June 10, 2014 5:22 pm | by Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Obesity surgery may keep diabetes in remission even after 15 years in some patients, a study suggests. Long-term results were missing for more than half the patients who began the study and remission rates dropped off considerably. But still, 35 out of 115 patients remained diabetes-free 15 years after surgery.

Report: Diabetes numbers continue to rise in U.S.

June 10, 2014 11:26 am | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The number of Americans with diabetes has increased again—now more than 29 million people have the illness. That's an increase of about 3 million from three years ago. In new report released Tuesday, federal scientists calculated that more than 9% of Americans have diabetes—or one in 11people.

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Engineers develop mobile DNA test for HIV

June 6, 2014 7:31 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. bioengineers are developing a simple, highly accurate test to detect signs of HIV and its progress in patients in resource-poor settings. The current gold standard to diagnose HIV in infants and to monitor viral load depends on laboratory equipment and technical expertise generally available only in clinics. The new research features a nucleic acid-based test that can be performed at the site of care.

One and done: Antibiotic could provide single-dose option

June 5, 2014 8:20 am | by Duke Medicine News and Communications | News | Comments

In the battle against stubborn skin infections, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a new single-dose antibiotic is as effective as a twice-daily infusion given for up to 10 days, according to a large study led by Duke Medicine researchers. Researchers said the advantage of the new drug, oritavancin, is its potential to curtail what has been a key driver of antibiotic resistance.

Study documents MERS spread from camel to person

June 4, 2014 5:20 pm | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A new report offers the strongest evidence yet that a mysterious Middle East virus spreads from camels to people. Researchers studied the illness of a 44-year-old camel owner in Saudi Arabia, who died in November of Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS. Through repeated tests, they were able to show: the man and one camel were infected with the same virus.

Neural transplant reduces absence epilepsy seizures in mice

June 2, 2014 8:24 am | by Tracey Peake, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

New research from North Carolina State Univ. pinpoints the areas of the cerebral cortex that are affected in mice with absence epilepsy and shows that transplanting embryonic neural cells into these areas can alleviate symptoms of the disease by reducing seizure activity. The work may help identify the areas of the human brain affected in absence epilepsy and lead to new therapies for sufferers.

A tool to better screen, treat aneurysm patients

May 30, 2014 8:26 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboraotry | News | Comments

New research by an international consortium may help physicians better understand the chronological development of a brain aneurysm. Using radiocarbon dating to date samples of ruptured and unruptured cerebral aneurysm tissue, the team, led by neurosurgeon Nima Etminan, found that the main structural constituent and protein—collagen type I—in cerebral aneurysms is distinctly younger than once thought.

A cure for dry eye could be a blink away

May 29, 2014 8:37 am | by Susan Gawlowicz, Rochester Institute of Technology | News | Comments

A treatment for dry eye, a burning, gritty condition that can impair vision and damage the cornea, could someday result from computer simulations that map the way tears move across the surface of the eye. To understand dry eye, the team had to begin with the physics and chemistry of tears.

Researchers target brain circuitry to treat intractable mental disorders

May 28, 2014 11:46 am | by Sarah Yang, Media Relations, UC Berkeley | Videos | Comments

Neuroscientists, engineers and physicians are teaming up for an ambitious five-year, $26 million project to develop new techniques for tackling mental illness. By using devices implanted in the brain, they aim to target and correct malfunctioning neural circuits in conditions such as clinical depression, addiction and anxiety disorders.

Sneaky bacteria change key protein’s shape to escape detection

May 28, 2014 10:23 am | News | Comments

Every once in a while in the U.S., bacterial meningitis seems to crop up out of nowhere, claiming a young life. Part of the disease’s danger is the ability of the bacteria to evade the body’s immune system, but scientists are now figuring out how the pathogen hides in plain sight. Their findings, which could help defeat these bacteria and others like it, appear in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

“Nanodaisies” deliver drug cocktail to cancer cells

May 28, 2014 8:16 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Biomedical engineering researchers have developed daisy-shaped, nanoscale structures that are made predominantly of anticancer drugs and are capable of introducing a “cocktail” of multiple drugs into cancer cells. The researchers are all part the joint biomedical engineering program at North Carolina State Univ. and the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Researcher reboots deep brain stimulation

May 28, 2014 7:53 am | News | Comments

Deep brain stimulators, devices that zap Parkinson’s disease tremors by sending electrical current deep into nerve centers near the brain stem, may sound like they are cutting-edge, but Rice Univ.’s Caleb Kemere wants to give them a high-tech overhaul.

Relaxation helps pack DNA into a virus

May 27, 2014 7:57 am | by Susan Brown, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Taking a moment to pause and relax can help if you find yourself in a tight spot. This strategy can work for molecules as well as people, it turns out. Researchers at the Univ. of California, San Diego have found that DNA packs more easily into the tight confines of a virus when given a chance to relax.

Doctors design mini dialysis machine for babies

May 23, 2014 12:41 pm | by Maria Cheng, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

Doctors in Italy have designed a miniature dialysis machine for babies, used for the first time last year to save a newborn girl. Usually, doctors adapt standard dialysis machines for babies, but that can be risky since the devices can't always be accurately tweaked. About 1 to 2% of hospitalized infants have kidney problems that may require dialysis, which cleans toxins from the blood when the kidneys aren't working.

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