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Serotonin-deficient brains more vulnerable to social stress

February 10, 2015 8:48 am | by Karl Bates, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

Mice genetically deficient in serotonin, a crucial brain chemical implicated in clinical depression, are more vulnerable than their normal littermates to social stressors, according to a Duke Univ. study. Following exposure to stress, the serotonin-deficient mice also did not respond to a standard antidepressant, fluoxetine (Prozac), which works by boosting serotonin transmission between neighboring neurons.

Engineered insulin could offer better diabetes control

February 10, 2015 8:41 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

For patients with diabetes, insulin is critical to maintaining good health and normal blood-sugar levels. However, it’s not an ideal solution because it can be difficult for patients to determine exactly how much insulin they need to prevent their blood sugar from swinging too high or too low. Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers hope to improve treatment for diabetes patients with a new type of engineered insulin.

What autism can teach us about brain cancer

February 9, 2015 9:34 am | by Catherine Kolf, Johns Hopkins Univ. | News | Comments

Applying lessons learned from autism to brain cancer, researchers at The Johns Hopkins Univ. have discovered why elevated levels of the protein NHE9 add to the lethality of the most common and aggressive form of brain cancer, glioblastoma. Their discovery suggests that drugs designed to target NHE9 could help to successfully fight the deadly disease.

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Twists, turns, eventually lead to promising Ebola vaccine

February 9, 2015 4:18 am | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

It took 16 years of twists and turns. Over and over, Dr. Nancy Sullivan thought she was close to an Ebola vaccine, only to see the next experiment fail. "A case of resuscitation more than once," is how the National Institutes of Health researcher describes the journey.

Evaluating strategies for HIV vaccination

February 6, 2015 11:21 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Through an investigation of a fundamental process that guides the maturation of immune cells, researchers have revealed new insights into possible ways to vaccinate people to generate potent antibodies of the type that are predicted to offer protection against diverse strains of the highly mutable HIV. 

Another reason to drink wine: It could help you burn fat

February 6, 2015 9:48 am | by Gail Wells, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Drinking red grape juice or wine in moderation could improve the health of overweight people by helping them burn fat better, according to a new study coauthored by an Oregon State Univ. researcher. The findings suggest that consuming dark-colored grapes, whether eating them or drinking juice or wine, might help people better manage obesity and related metabolic disorders such as fatty liver.

New source of cells for modeling malaria

February 6, 2015 9:40 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

In 2008, the World Health Organization announced a global effort to eradicate malaria, which kills about 800,000 people every year. As part of that goal, scientists are trying to develop new drugs that target the malaria parasite during the stage when it infects the human liver, which is crucial because some strains of malaria can lie dormant in the liver for several years before flaring up.

Record keeping helps bacteria’s immune system fight invaders

February 4, 2015 10:01 am | by SLAC Office of Communications | News | Comments

Bacteria have a sophisticated means of defending themselves, and they need it: more viruses infect bacteria than any other biological entity. Two experiments undertaken at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory provide new insight at the heart of bacterial adaptive defenses in a system called CRISPR, short for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat.

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Pfizer breast cancer drug gets early FDA approval

February 3, 2015 6:18 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Federal health regulators on Tuesday approved a highly anticipated medicine from Pfizer Inc. to treat postmenopausal women with a certain type of advanced breast cancer who have not already taken other drugs. The Food and Drug Administration approved Ibrance for women who have tumors that do not contain a protein known as HER-2. Ibrance, known generically as palbociclib, works by blocking molecules linked to cancer cell growth.

Federal health officials face tough questions on flu vaccine

February 3, 2015 1:20 pm | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Federal health officials are facing questioning about why this year's flu vaccine isn't giving good protection against the winter menace. This is a particularly bad flu season, and one reason is that the most common flu strain isn't a good match to this year's vaccine. Lawmakers on Tuesday asked why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention didn't act months ago when concerns first arose to create a better-matched vaccine.

Why moderate drinking might be healthy for some

February 2, 2015 10:00 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Moderate consumption of alcohol has been associated with health benefits in some, but not all, studies. Researchers at the Yale Univ. School of Medicine may have found an explanation, in part, for why non-smokers might benefit from a glass of wine.

DNA nanoswitches reveal how life’s molecules connect

January 30, 2015 8:17 am | by Kat J. McAlpine, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering | News | Comments

A complex interplay of molecular components governs most aspects of biological sciences: healthy organism development, disease progression and drug efficacy are all dependent on the way life's molecules interact in the body. Understanding these biomolecular interactions is critical for the discovery of new therapeutics and diagnostics to treat diseases, but currently requires scientists to have access to expensive laboratory equipment.

Obama proposes "precision medicine" to end one-size-fits-all

January 30, 2015 6:18 am | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

President Barack Obama is calling for an investment to move away from one-size-fits-all-medicine, toward an approach that tailors treatment to your genes. The White House said Friday that Obama will ask Congress for $215 million for what he's calling a precision medicine initiative. The ambitious goal: Scientists will assemble databases of about a million volunteers to study their genetics to learn how to individualize care.

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Hydrogen sulfide could help lower blood pressure

January 29, 2015 4:30 pm | by Univ. of Exter Medical School | News | Comments

A gas that gives rotten eggs their distinctive odor could one day form the basis of new cardiovascular therapies. Research has indicated that a new compound, called AP39, which generates minute quantities of the gas hydrogen sulfide inside cells, could be beneficial in cases of high blood pressure and diseases of the blood vessels that occur with aging and diabetes.

Genetically engineered antibodies show enhanced HIV-fighting abilities

January 29, 2015 4:06 pm | by Kimm Fesenmaier, Caltech | News | Comments

Capitalizing on a new insight into HIV's strategy for evading antibodies, Caltech researchers have developed antibody-based molecules that are more than 100 times better than our bodies' own defenses at binding to and neutralizing HIV, when tested in vitro. The work suggests a novel approach that could be used to engineer more effective HIV-fighting drugs.

Neutron beams reveal how two potential pieces of Parkinson’s puzzle fit

January 29, 2015 11:44 am | by Chad Boutin, NIST | News | Comments

To understand diseases like Parkinson’s, the tiniest of puzzles may hold big answers. That’s why a team including scientists from NIST have determined how two potentially key pieces of the Parkinson’s puzzle fit together, in an effort to reveal how the still poorly understood illness develops and affects its victims.

Why upper motor neurons degenerate in ALS

January 29, 2015 8:44 am | by Marla Paul, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

For the first time, scientists have revealed a mechanism underlying the cellular degeneration of upper motor neurons, a small group of neurons in the brain recently shown to play a major role in ALS pathology. ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a fatal neuromuscular disorder marked by the degeneration of motor neurons, which causes muscle weakness and impaired speaking, swallowing and breathing that leads to paralysis and death.

Beer compound could help fend off Alzheimer’s

January 28, 2015 10:40 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

The health-promoting perks of wine have attracted the spotlight recently, leaving beer in the shadows. But scientists are discovering new ways in which the latter could be a more healthful beverage than once thought. They’re now reporting that a compound from hops could protect brain cells from damage, and potentially slow the development of disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Drug combo suppresses growth of late-stage prostate cancer tumors

January 28, 2015 8:31 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Low doses of metformin, a widely used diabetes medication and a gene inhibitor known as BI2536 can successfully halt the growth of late-stage prostate cancer tumors, a Purdue Univ. study finds. Prostate cancer causes the second-highest number of cancer-related deaths in men in the U.S., and methods of treating advanced prostate cancer are limited.

Potential new drug target for lung cancer

January 26, 2015 11:23 am | by Allison Perry, Univ. of Kentucky | Videos | Comments

A new study by Univ. of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center researchers suggests that targeting a key enzyme and its associated metabolic programming may lead to novel drug development to treat lung cancer. Cancer cells undergo metabolic alterations to meet the increased energy demands that support their excess growth and survival.

Trust your gut

January 23, 2015 9:01 am | by Laura Bailey, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

E. coli usually brings to mind food poisoning and beach closures, but researchers recently discovered a protein in E. coli that inhibits the accumulation of potentially toxic amyloids, a hallmark of diseases such as Parkinson's. Amyloids are formed by proteins that misfold and group together, and when amyloids assemble at the wrong place or time, they can damage brain tissue and cause cell death.

Rare neurological disease shines light on health of essential nerve cells

January 23, 2015 8:35 am | by David Tennebaum, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

Ian Duncan is a Scotsman with the iron discipline and stamina of a competitive marathoner, triathlete and cross-country skier. As a neuroscientist at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, he’s applied his tenacity to a rare genetic disorder. Known as Pelizaeus Merzbacher disease or PMD, it’s a devastating neurological condition that, in its most severe form, kills infants weeks after birth.

Pictured together for the first time: A chemokine and its receptor

January 23, 2015 8:12 am | by Heather Buschman, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Researchers report the first crystal structure of the cellular receptor CXCR4 bound to an immune signaling protein called a chemokine. The structure, published in Science, answers longstanding questions about a molecular interaction that plays an important role in human development, immune responses, cancer metastasis and HIV infections.

One dose, then surgery: A new way to test brain tumor drugs

January 22, 2015 1:18 pm | by Marilynn Marchione, AP Chief Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Lori Simons took the bright orange pill at 3 a.m. Eight hours later, doctors sliced into her brain, looking for signs that the drug was working. She is taking part in one of the most unusual cancer experiments in the nation. With special permission from the Food and Drug Administration and multiple drug companies, an Arizona hospital is testing medicines very early in development and never tried on brain tumors before.

Drug compounds show promise against endometriosis

January 22, 2015 8:15 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Two new drug compounds appear to be effective in treating endometriosis, a disorder that, like MS, is driven by estrogen and inflammation, scientists report in Science Translational Medicine. The researchers hope to eventually use the new compounds and others like them to treat a variety of disorders linked to estrogen signaling and inflammation.

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