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Fighting Ebola virus disease: Transformer protein provides new insights

May 16, 2014 8:25 am | by Manuel Gnida, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | News | Comments

A new study reveals that a protein of the Ebola virus can transform into three distinct shapes, each with a separate function that is critical to the virus’s survival. Each shape offers a potential target for developing drugs against Ebola virus disease, a hemorrhagic fever that kills up to nine out of 10 infected patients in outbreaks such as the current one in West Africa.

Extended-release medication offers promise for treating alcohol dependence

May 15, 2014 8:14 am | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

A comparatively new form of a medication for alcohol and opioid dependence that’s injected once a month instead of taken orally once a day appears to be significantly more effective than some other medications—because more patients actually continue the prescribed regimen. The findings offer support for a wider use of medications that may help reduce or prevent substance abuse and related hospital admissions.

A new approach to treating peanut, food allergies

May 14, 2014 11:22 am | News | Comments

These days, more and more people seem to have food allergies, which can sometimes have life-threatening consequences. In the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists report the development of a new type of flour that someday could be used in food-based therapies to help people better tolerate their allergy triggers, including peanuts.

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The Bright Side of Fluorescence

May 14, 2014 8:49 am | by Takeharu Nagai, PhD, Osaka Univ., Japan | Photometrics | Articles | Comments

Fluorescent proteins have helped researchers open doors to countless molecular imaging applications and deepened our understanding of biological processes. Without fluorescence, advancements in oncology, drug discovery and any field that requires single-cell to whole-body imaging would be substantially limited.

Insight on HIV lifecycle gained through creative use of high-energy x-rays

May 14, 2014 7:59 am | by Tona Kunz, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

A key step in the decades-long mystery of the HIV lifecycle was uncovered using what formerly was thought of as only a supplementary x-ray technique for structural biology. This advances study of HIV as well as highlights a powerful tool to obtain currently unobtainable high-resolution structural determination and characterization of RNA molecules.

Researchers identify extent of new tick-borne infection

May 8, 2014 11:32 am | by Michael Greenwood, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

The frequency of a new tick-borne infection that shares many similarities with Lyme disease, and a description of the antibody test used to test individuals for evidence of the infection, have been reported for the first time by researchers at the Yale Schools of Public Health and Medicine.

Experimental antibody shows early promise for treatment of childhood tumor

May 8, 2014 11:14 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

 Tumors shrank or disappeared and disease progression was temporarily halted in 15 children with advanced neuroblastoma enrolled in a safety study of an experimental antibody produced at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Four patients are still alive after more than two-and-a-half years and without additional treatment.

A lab in your pocket

May 8, 2014 8:33 am | by Marcia Goodrich, Michigan Technological Univ. | News | Comments

When you get sick, your physician may take a sample of your blood, send it to the laboratory and wait for results. In the near future, however, doctors may be able to run those tests almost instantly on a piece of plastic about the size of credit card. These labs-on-a-chip would not only be quick—results are available in minutes—but also inexpensive and portable.

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Luminescent nanocrystal tags, high-speed scanner enable rapid detection of pathogens

May 7, 2014 7:42 am | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A research team using tunable luminescent nanocrystals as tags to advance medical and security imaging have successfully applied them to high-speed scanning technology and detected multiple viruses within minutes. The research builds on the team's earlier success in developing a way to control the length of time light from a luminescent nanocrystal lingers.

Soy sauce molecule may unlock drug therapy for HIV patients

May 6, 2014 7:49 am | News | Comments

For HIV patients being treated with anti-AIDS medications, resistance to drug therapy regimens is commonplace. Often, patients develop resistance to first-line drug therapies, such as Tenofovir, and are forced to adopt more potent medications. Virologists at the Univ. of Missouri now are testing the next generation of medications that stop HIV from spreading, and are using a molecule related to flavor enhancers found in soy sauce.

Two-lock box delivers cancer therapy

May 6, 2014 7:37 am | News | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have designed a tunable virus that works like a safe deposit box. It takes two keys to open it and release its therapeutic cargo. The Rice team developed an adeno-associated virus (AAV) that unlocks only in the presence of two selected proteases, enzymes that cut up other proteins for disposal. Because certain proteases are elevated at tumor sites, the viruses can be designed to target and destroy the cancer cells.

Spread of polio now a world health emergency

May 5, 2014 10:29 am | by Maria Cheng - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The spread of polio is an international public health emergency that could grow in coming months and ultimately unravel the nearly three-decade effort to eradicate the crippling disease, the World Health Organization said Monday. The agency described the ongoing polio outbreaks in Asia, Africa and the Middle East as an "extraordinary event" requiring a coordinated international response.

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.

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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.

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.

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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