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A new way to profile immune cells in blood

March 7, 2014 8:42 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

When a person becomes sick or is exposed to an unwelcome substance, the body mobilizes specific proportions of different immune cells in the blood. Methods of discovering and detecting those profiles are therefore useful both clinically and in research. In a new Genome Biology paper, a team of scientists describes a new and uniquely advantageous way to detect them.

Microbial detection array detects plague in ancient human remains

March 6, 2014 10:40 am | by Stephen P Wampler, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists who study past pandemics, such as the 14th-century Black Death that devastated much of Europe, might soon be turning to an innovative biological detection technology for some extra help. The apparent first use of this technology, known as a microarray, for studying pathogens from ancient DNA, was reported by a team of scientists in Scientific Reports.

Gene therapy seems safe, may help control HIV

March 5, 2014 5:21 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Scientists have modified genes in the blood cells of HIV patients to help them resist the AIDS virus, and say the treatment seems safe and promising. The results give hope that this approach might one day free at least some people from needing medicines to keep HIV under control, a form of cure.

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Doctors hope for cure in a 2nd baby born with HIV

March 5, 2014 1:21 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A second baby born with the AIDS virus may have had her infection put into remission and possibly cured by very early treatment—in this instance, four hours after birth. Doctors revealed the case Wednesday at an AIDS conference in Boston. The girl was born in suburban Los Angeles last April, a month after researchers announced the first case from Mississippi.

Combination therapies combat HIV at cell junctions

February 28, 2014 10:36 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

A new Yale Univ. study indicates that cell-to-cell transmission of HIV particles contributes to the development of full-blown AIDS and helps predict which anti-retroviral therapies will be most effective at keeping the disease at bay. The new research reinforces recent findings that a heavy concentration of the virus at the point of contact between cells is crucial to the development of AIDS.

Scientists describe deadly immune “storm” caused by emergent flu infections

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

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have mapped key elements of a severe immune overreaction, a “cytokine storm”, that can both sicken and kill patients who are infected with certain strains of flu virus. Their findingsalso clarify the workings of a potent new class of anti-inflammatory compounds that prevent this immune overreaction in animal models.

Disease-causing bacterial invaders aided by failure of immune system switch

February 27, 2014 1:06 pm | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Immune system defenses against dangerous bacteria in the gut can be breached by turning off a single molecular switch that governs production of the protective mucus lining our intestinal walls, according to a study led by researchers at Yale Univ., the Univ. of British Columbia and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

DNA blood tests show prenatal screening promise

February 26, 2014 5:20 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A DNA test of a pregnant woman's blood is more accurate than current methods of screening for Down syndrome and other common disorders, new research finds. If other studies bear this out, it could transform prenatal care by giving a more reliable, non-invasive way to detect these problems very early in pregnancy.

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Finding a few foes among billions of friends

February 26, 2014 2:46 pm | by Steven Powell, Univ. of South Carolina | News | Comments

Beating cancer is all about early detection, and new research from the Univ. of South Carolina is another step forward in catching the disease early. A team of chemists is reporting a new way to detect just a few lurking tumor cells, which can be outnumbered a billion to one in the bloodstream by healthy cells.

Self-administration of flu vaccine with a patch may be feasible

February 26, 2014 2:17 pm | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

The annual ritual of visiting a doctor’s office or health clinic to receive a flu shot may soon be outdated, thanks to the findings of a new study. The research, which involved nearly 100 people recruited in the metropolitan Atlanta area, found that test subjects could successfully apply a prototype vaccine patch to themselves.

FDA weighs unknowns of 3-person embryo technique

February 26, 2014 10:42 am | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer | News | Comments

At a recent two-day meeting, the Food and Drug Administration heard from supporters and opponents of a provocative new technique meant to prevent children from inheriting debilitating diseases. The method creates babies from the DNA of three people, and the agency is considering whether to greenlight testing in women who have defective genes.

Experimental treatment eradicates acute leukemia in mice

February 26, 2014 7:53 am | by Shaun Mason, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

A diverse team of scientists from Univ. of California, Los Angeles' Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center has developed an experimental treatment that eradicates an acute type of leukemia in mice without any detectable toxic side effects. The drug works by blocking two important metabolic pathways that the leukemia cells need to grow and spread.

“Bad cholesterol” indicates an amino acid deficiency

February 26, 2014 7:29 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad cholesterol” that doctors consider a sign of potential heart disease, is merely a marker of a diet lacking all of the essential amino acids, says Univ. of Illinois comparative biosciences prof. Fred Kummerow, 99, a longtime opponent of the medical establishment’s war on cholesterol.

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Polio-like disease appears in California children

February 25, 2014 2:09 am | by Martha Mendoza - AP National Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

An extremely rare, polio-like disease has appeared in more than a dozen California children within the past year and paralyzed one or more of each child's arms or legs, Stanford Univ. researchers say, but public health officials haven't identified any common causes connecting the cases.

Using viruses as nanoscale building blocks

February 21, 2014 11:28 am | by Mona S. Rowe, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

From steel beams to plastic Lego bricks, building blocks come in many materials and all sizes. Today, science has opened the way to manufacturing at the nanoscale with biological materials. Potential applications range from medicine to optoelectronic devices. In a paper published in Soft Matter, scientists announced their discovery of a 2-D crystalline structure assembled from the outer shells of a virus.

Sun powers complex cancer test for remote regions

February 21, 2014 8:19 am | by Blaine Friedlander, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

From the sun, a solution: Cornell Univ. and Weill Cornell Medical College researchers have remodeled an energy-intensive medical test, designed to detect a deadly skin cancer related to HIV infections, to create a quick diagnostic assay perfect for remote regions of the world. By harnessing the sun’s power and employing a smartphone application, medical technicians may now handily administer reliable assays for Kaposi’s sarcoma.

A changing view of bone marrow cells

February 21, 2014 7:55 am | by Kimm Fesenmaier, Caltech | News | Comments

In the battle against infection, immune cells are the body's offense and defense. It has long been known that a population of blood stem cells that resides in the bone marrow generates all of these immune cells. But most scientists have believed that blood stem cells participate in battles against infection in a delayed way, replenishing immune cells on the front line only after they become depleted.

Flu season waning; younger adults hit hardest

February 20, 2014 2:09 pm | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

As the flu season winds down, health officials say it wasn't as bad as last year and the vaccine worked better. But younger adults were hit harder because of a surge of swine flu. Overall, hospitalization rates for the flu are only about half what they were last winter. It has been a fairly mild season for the elderly—usually the most vulnerable group to flu and its complications.

Uncovering the secrets of tularemia

February 18, 2014 8:26 am | by Stephen P Wampler, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

Tularemia is endemic in the northeastern U.S., and is considered to be a risk to biosecurity, much like anthrax or smallpox, because it has already been weaponized in various regions of the world. A postdoctoral researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has recently described his work to uncover the secrets of the bacterium Francisella tularensis, which causes tularemia, also known as "rabbit fever."

Test could predict which teen boys get depression

February 18, 2014 8:09 am | by Maria Cheng - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A saliva test for teenage boys with mild symptoms of depression could help identify those who will later develop major depression, a new study says. Researchers measured the stress hormone cortisol in teenage boys and found that ones with high levels coupled with mild depression symptoms were up to 14 times more likely to suffer clinical depression later in life than those with low or normal cortisol levels.

Hitchhiking vaccines boost immunity

February 18, 2014 8:04 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Many vaccines consist of a killed or disabled version of a virus. However, for certain diseases, this type of vaccine is ineffective, or just too risky. An alternative, safer approach is a vaccine made of small fragments of proteins produced by a disease-causing virus or bacterium. This has worked for some diseases, but in many cases these vaccines don’t provoke a strong enough response. Until now.

Research reveals structure of key protein complex

February 13, 2014 1:04 pm | by Veronica Meade-Kelly, Broad Institute | News | Comments

Researchers have formed the first high-definition picture of the Cas9 complex, a key part of the CRISPR-Cas system used by scientists as a genome-editing tool to silence genes and probe the biology of cells. Their findingsare expected to help researchers refine and further engineer the tool to accelerate genomic research and bring the technology closer to use in the treatment of human genetic disease.

U.S., 26 countries launch effort to fight disease outbreaks

February 13, 2014 12:09 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The U.S. and 26 other countries began a new effort Thursday to prevent and fight outbreaks of dangerous infectious diseases before they spread around the globe. U.S. health officials called the Global Health Security Agenda a priority because too many countries lack the health infrastructure necessary to spot a new infection rapidly and sound the alarm before it has time to gain a foothold and even spread into other countries.

How chronic stress leads to mental illness

February 12, 2014 8:05 am | by Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley Media Relations | News | Comments

Univ. of California, Berkeley researchers have shown that chronic stress generates long-term changes in the brain that may explain why people suffering chronic stress are prone to mental problems such as anxiety and mood disorders later in life. Their findings could lead to new therapies to reduce the risk of developing mental illness after stressful events.

Panel votes down heart safety claim for naproxen

February 11, 2014 2:09 pm | by Matthew Perrone - AP Health Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A majority of federal health experts said Tuesday that new research is not strong enough to conclude that naproxen, the pain reliever in Aleve and many other medications, is safer on the heart than rival drugs used by millions of Americans to treat arthritis and everyday aches and pains. The Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted against the conclusion that naproxen has a lower risk of heart attack than ibuprofen.

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