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New technique tracks proteins in single HIV particle

May 5, 2014 9:10 am | News | Comments

An interdisciplinary team of scientists in Belgium has developed a new technique to examine how proteins interact with each other at the level of a single HIV viral particle. The technique allows scientists to study the life-threatening virus in detail and makes screening potential anti-HIV drugs quicker and more efficient. The technique can also be used to study other diseases.

Research reveals value of large animals in fighting disease

May 5, 2014 8:12 am | by Rob Jordan, Stanford Woods Institute for the Evironment | News | Comments

Don't let their cute names fool you: The Mearns' pouch mouse and the delicate mouse can be dangerous. These and other rodents commonly harbor pathogens that can be deadly to humans. According to new research by Stanford Univ. scientists, populations of pathogen-carrying rodents can explode when larger animals die off in an ecosystem, leading to a doubling in the risk of potentially fatal diseases spreading to humans.

CDC confirms first case of MERS virus in American

May 2, 2014 4:25 pm | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Health officials on Friday confirmed the first case of an American infected with a mysterious Middle East virus. The man fell ill after arriving in the U.S. about a week ago from Saudi Arabia where he is a health care worker. The man is hospitalized in Indiana with Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is investigating the case along with Indiana health officials.

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Experimental drug prolongs life span in mice

May 2, 2014 11:30 am | by Marla Paul, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Northwestern Medicine scientists have newly identified a protein’s key role in cell and physiological aging and have developed—in collaboration with Tohoku Univ. in Japan—an experimental drug that inhibits the protein’s effect and prolonged the lifespan in a mouse model of accelerated aging. The rapidly aging mice fed the experimental drug lived more than four times longer than a control group.

Scientists figure out staying power of HIV-fighting enzyme

May 2, 2014 11:24 am | News | Comments

Johns Hopkins Univ. biochemists have figured out what is needed to activate and sustain the virus-fighting activity of an enzyme found in CD4+ T cells, the human immune cells infected by HIV. The discovery could launch a more effective strategy for preventing the spread of HIV in the body with drugs targeting this enzyme, they say.

Scientists urge delay in destroying last smallpox

May 1, 2014 5:24 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

More than three decades after the eradication of smallpox, U.S. officials say it's still not time to destroy the last known stockpiles of the virus behind one of history's deadliest diseases. The world's health ministers meet later this month to debate, again, the fate of vials held under tight security in two laboratories—one in the U.S. and one in Russia.

Promising agents burst through “superbug” defenses to fight antibiotic resistance

May 1, 2014 10:57 am | News | Comments

In the fight against “superbugs,” scientists have discovered a class of agents that can make some of the most notorious strains vulnerable to the same antibiotics that they once handily shrugged off. The report on the promising agents called metallopolymers appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

From morphine to Cipro: History of drug development chronicled

April 30, 2014 9:12 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Yale Univ.’s Michael Kinch spent his spare time in the last year creating a massive database that encompasses the entire history of drug development in the U.S. In a series of 20 articles scheduled to be published over the next year in Drug Discovery Today, Kinch mines the data and provides historical tidbits about the history of drug development and reveals trends on how—or whether—we will get new medicines in the future.

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Cloning approach makes diabetes stem cell advance

April 30, 2014 7:32 am | News | Comments

In a potential step toward new diabetes treatments, scientists used a cloning technique to make insulin-producing cells with the DNA of a diabetic woman. The approach could someday aid treatment of the Type 1 form of the illness, which is usually diagnosed in childhood and accounts for about 5% of diabetes cases in the U.S.

Researchers sequence genome of tsetse fly

April 28, 2014 8:09 am | by Mick Kulikowski, North Carolina State Univ. News Services | News | Comments

An international consortium of researchers, including an entomologist from North Carolina State Univ., sequenced the genetic blueprint, or genome, of the tsetse fly, one of the world’s most dangerous vectors of human and livestock disease. Tsetse flies (Glossina morsitans) are found in Africa, feed exclusively on blood and transmit sleeping sickness, or African trypanosomiasis.

Scientists find connection between gene mutation, key symptoms of autism

April 25, 2014 10:59 am | News | Comments

Scientists have known that abnormal brain growth is associated with autism spectrum disorder. However, the relationship between the two has not been well understood. Now, scientists have shown that mutations in a specific gene that is disrupted in some individuals with autism results in too much growth throughout the brain.

Study: Statins may lead some patients to pig out

April 24, 2014 9:22 pm | by Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Ten years of U.S. data suggest cholesterol-lowering statins are giving patients a license to pig out. Calorie and fat intake increased among statin users during the decade—an indication that many patients might be abandoning heart-healthy lifestyles and assuming that drugs alone will do the trick, the study authors said.

Scientists find new point of attack on HIV for vaccine development

April 24, 2014 12:45 pm | News | Comments

A team led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute working with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative has discovered a new vulnerable site on the HIV virus. The newly identified site can be attacked by human antibodies in a way that neutralizes the infectivity of a wide variety of HIV strains.

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Animal study suggests some astronauts are at risk for cognitive impairment

April 24, 2014 11:57 am | News | Comments

Johns Hopkins Univ. scientists report that rats exposed to high-energy particles, simulating conditions astronauts would face on a long-term deep space mission, show lapses in attention and slower reaction times, even when the radiation exposure is in extremely low dose ranges.

New ultrasound device may add in detecting risk for heart attack, stroke

April 24, 2014 8:16 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have developed an ultrasound device that could help identify arterial plaque that is at high risk of breaking off and causing heart attack or stroke. At issue is the plaque that builds up in arteries as we age. Some types of plaque are deemed “vulnerable,” meaning that they are more likely to detach from the artery wall and cause heart attack or stroke.

Study identifies enzymes that help fix cancer-causing DNA defects

April 23, 2014 7:47 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Purdue Univ. researchers have identified an important enzyme pathway that helps prevent new cells from receiving too many or too few chromosomes, a condition that has been directly linked to cancer and other diseases. The team found that near the end of cell division, the enzyme Cdc14 activates Yen1, an enzyme that ensures any breaks in DNA are fully repaired before the parent cell distributes copies of the genome to daughter cells.

Cloaked DNA nanodevices survive pilot mission

April 22, 2014 9:13 am | by Dan Ferber, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

It's a familiar trope in science fiction: In enemy territory, activate your cloaking device. And real-world viruses use similar tactics to make themselves invisible to the immune system. Now scientists at Harvard Univ.'s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have mimicked these viral tactics to build the first DNA nanodevices that survive the body's immune defenses.

Fast way to measure DNA repair

April 22, 2014 8:55 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Our DNA is under constant attack from many sources. Fortunately, cells have several major DNA repair systems that can fix this damage, which may lead to diseases if not mended. A team of researchers has developed a test that can rapidly assess several DNA repair systems, which could help determine individuals’ risk of developing cancer and help doctors predict how a given patient will respond to chemotherapy drugs.

Unlocking a mystery of human disease in space

April 21, 2014 7:45 am | by Jessica Stoller-Conrad, Caltech | News | Comments

Huntington's disease is a grim diagnosis. A hereditary disorder with debilitating physical and cognitive symptoms, the disease usually robs adult patients of their ability to walk, balance and speak. More than 15 years ago, researchers revealed the disorder's likely cause—an abnormal version of the protein huntingtin; however, the mutant protein's mechanism is poorly understood, and the disease remains untreatable.

Multi-target TB drug could treat other disease, evade resistance

April 18, 2014 7:47 am | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

A drug under clinical trials to treat tuberculosis could be the basis for a class of broad-spectrum drugs that act against various bacteria, fungal infections and parasites, yet evade resistance, according to a study by Univ. of Illinois chemists and collaborators. The team determined the different ways the drug SQ109 attacks the tuberculosis bacterium and how the drug can be tweaked to target other pathogens from yeast to malaria.

Researchers develop new antiviral drug to combat measles outbreaks

April 17, 2014 7:57 am | News | Comments

A novel antiviral drug may protect people infected with the measles from getting sick and prevent them from spreading the virus to others, an international team of researchers says. The team of researchers developed the drug and tested it in animals infected with a virus closely related to one that causes the measles. As reported, virus levels were significantly reduced when infected animals received the drug by mouth.

Study: Diabetic heart attacks and strokes falling

April 16, 2014 5:23 pm | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

In the midst of the diabetes epidemic, a glimmer of good news: Heart attacks, strokes and other complications from the disease are plummeting. Over the last two decades, the rates of heart attacks and strokes among diabetics fell by more than 60%, a new federal study shows. The research also confirms earlier reports of drastic declines in diabetes-related kidney failure and amputations.

Finding the switch: Researchers create roadmap for gene expression

April 14, 2014 8:00 am | by Tracey Peake, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

In a new study, researchers from North Carolina State Univ., UNC-Chapel Hill and other institutions have taken the first steps toward creating a roadmap that may help scientists narrow down the genetic cause of numerous diseases. Their work also sheds new light on how heredity and environment can affect gene expression.

Mechanical forces affect T-cell recognition, signaling

April 11, 2014 8:04 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

T-cells use a complex process to recognize foreign pathogens and diseased cells. In a paper published in Cell, researchers add a new level of understanding to that process by describing how the T-cell receptors use mechanical contact—the forces involved in their binding to the antigens—to make decisions about whether or not the cells they encounter are threats.

A new “hope” for preservation of tissue samples for analysis

April 8, 2014 12:12 pm | News | Comments

Researchers have discovered that the so-called HOPE method allows tissue samples to be treated such that they do not only meet the requirements of clinical histology, but can still be characterized later on by modern methods of proteomics, a technique that analyzes all proteins at once. This differs from the traditional formalin-based approach that cross-links protein molecules.

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