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New findings reveal protein structure in rubella virus

December 10, 2013 11:21 am | News | Comments

Researchers have determined the structure of the rubella virus capsid protein, which is central to the virus's ability to assemble into an infectious particle and to infect humans. Although a successful vaccine is available to protect against rubella virus infection, the discovery could aid efforts to develop vaccines and antiviral drugs to treat related infections.

Probiotic therapy alleviates autism-like behavior in mice

December 6, 2013 9:52 am | News | Comments

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is diagnosed when individuals exhibit characteristic behaviors that include repetitive actions, decreased social interactions and impaired communication. Curiously, many individuals with ASD also suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) issues, such as abdominal cramps and constipation. Using the co-occurrence of brain and gut problems in ASD as their guide, researchers are investigating a new therapy.

Chemists crack the code of cataract creation

December 5, 2013 3:15 pm | News | Comments

New findings by Univ. of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) and German chemists about how cataracts form could be used to help prevent the world’s leading cause of blindness, which currently affects nearly 20 million people worldwide. The UC Irvine team explored and identified the structures of the normal proteins and a genetic mutation known to cause cataracts in young children.

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Key found to restoring “exhausted” HIV-fighting immune cells

December 3, 2013 8:07 am | News | Comments

Researchers have identified a protein that causes loss of function in immune cells combating HIV. The scientists report in a paper appearing online in the Journal of Clinical Investigation that the protein, Sprouty-2, is a promising target for future HIV drug development, since disabling it could help restore the cells’ ability to combat the virus that causes AIDS.

Pills of the future

December 2, 2013 12:09 pm | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Drugs delivered by nanoparticles hold promise for targeted treatment of many diseases, including cancer. However, the particles have to be injected into patients, which has limited their usefulness so far. Now, researchers have developed a new type of nanoparticle that can be delivered orally and absorbed through the digestive tract, allowing patients to simply take a pill instead of receiving injections.

FDA extends review of Biogen hemophilia B drug

December 2, 2013 9:19 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Biogen Idec said Monday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) extended its review of Alprolix, a drug designed to treat hemophilia B. Biogen Idec said the FDA extended its review by three months. The move came after the agency asked Biogen for more information about validation of part of the Alprolix manufacturing process.

Newly identified protein provides target for antibiotic-resistant hospital bacterium

November 27, 2013 8:49 am | News | Comments

Researchers have made inroads into tackling a bacterium that plagues hospitals and is highly resistant to most antibiotics. They determined the 3-D structure and likely function of a new protein in this common bacterium that attacks those with compromised immune systems.

Drug interactions causing a significant impact of statin use

November 26, 2013 9:12 am | News | Comments

A new study has found that many people who stopped taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs were also taking an average of three other drugs that interfered with the normal metabolism of the statins. The other drugs can contribute to a common side effect of taking statins—muscle pain—and often led people to discontinue use of a medication that could otherwise help save their life, researchers learned.

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Whooping cough shot cuts illness, maybe not spread

November 25, 2013 3:47 pm | by MIKE STOBBE - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A government study offers a new theory on why the whooping cough vaccine doesn't seem to be working as well as expected. The research suggests that while the vaccine may keep people from getting sick, it doesn't prevent them from spreading whooping cough—also known as pertussis—to others.

Sanofi, Regeneron drug fares well in study

November 22, 2013 7:35 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

A potential rheumatoid arthritis treatment from French drugmaker Sanofi and its U.S. development partner Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. fared better than a fake drug at improving disease signs and symptoms in a late-stage study. The companies said they saw a statistically significant improvement in patient groups that received their drug, sarilumab, combined with methotrexate compared to those who just received methotrexate and a placebo.

Ultrasound, nanoparticle may help diabetics avoid the needle

November 21, 2013 10:12 am | News | Comments

A new nanotechnology-based technique for regulating blood sugar in diabetics may give patients the ability to release insulin painlessly using a small ultrasound device, allowing them to go days between injections—rather than using needles to give themselves multiple insulin injections each day. The technique was developed by researchers at North Carolina State Univ. and the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Study ties nuts to lower cancer, heart death risk

November 21, 2013 6:54 am | by MARILYNN MARCHIONE - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Help yourself to some nuts this holiday season: Regular nut eaters were less likely to die of cancer or heart disease—in fact, were less likely to die of any cause—during a 30-year Harvard study. Nuts have long been called heart-healthy, and the study is the largest ever done on whether eating them affects mortality.

HIV virus spread, evolution studied through computer modeling

November 19, 2013 1:40 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory are investigating the complex relationships between the spread of the HIV virus in a population (epidemiology) and the actual, rapid evolution of the virus (phylogenetics) within each patient’s body. The team models the uninfected population using traditional differential equations on the computer; this is done for computational speed, because an agent-based component is much more demanding.

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Princeton to give students meningitis B vaccine

November 19, 2013 10:27 am | by GEOFF MULVIHILL - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Princeton Univ. officials decided Monday to make available a meningitis vaccine that hasn't been approved in the U.S. to stop the spread of the sometimes deadly disease on campus. The university said doses of the vaccine for the type B meningococcal bacteria are to be available in December for undergraduate students, graduate students who live in dorms and employees who have sickle cell disease.

Scientists generate “mini-kidney” structures from human stem cells

November 18, 2013 8:40 am | News | Comments

Diseases affecting the kidneys represent a major and unsolved health issue worldwide. The kidneys rarely recover function once they are damaged by disease, highlighting the urgent need for better knowledge of kidney development and physiology. Now, a team of researchers has developed a novel platform to study kidney diseases, opening new avenues for the future application of regenerative medicine strategies to help restore kidney function.

SlipChip counts molecules with chemistry and a cell phone

November 18, 2013 8:31 am | Videos | Comments

In developing nations, rural areas and even one's own home, limited access to expensive equipment and trained medical professionals can impede the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Many qualitative tests that provide a simple "yes" or "no" answer have been optimized for use in these resource-limited settings. But few quantitative tests can be done outside of a laboratory or clinical setting.

Princeton considers meningitis vaccine

November 18, 2013 6:00 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Princeton Univ. officials are deciding whether to give students a meningitis vaccine that hasn't been approved in the U.S. to stop the spread of the disease. A decision could be made as early as Monday. The Food and Drug Administration last week approved importing Bexsero for possible use on Princeton's campus.

Compound stymies polyomaviruses in laboratory

November 13, 2013 11:44 am | News | Comments

A team of scientists reports that a small-molecule compound showed significant success in controlling the infectivity and spread of three polyomaviruses in human cell cultures. To date there has been no medicine approved to treat such viruses, which prey on transplant recipients, people with HIV and others whose immune systems have been weakened.

Researcher finds potential new use for old drugs

November 13, 2013 7:53 am | News | Comments

A class of drugs used to treat parasitic infections such as malaria may also be useful in treating cancers and immune-related diseases, a new Washington State Univ.-led study has found. Researchers discovered that simple modifications to the drug furamidine have a major impact on its ability to affect specific human proteins involved in the on-off switches of certain genes.

Genetic mutation link to eczema discovered

November 8, 2013 12:00 pm | News | Comments

Scientists collaborating on an international research project led by Trinity College Dublin and the University of Dundee have identified a new genetic mutation linked to the development of a type of eczema known as atopic dermatitis. They found that a mutation in the gene Matt/Tmem79 led to the development of spontaneous dermatitis in mice.

Discovery of HIV 'invisibility cloak' reveals new treatment opportunities

November 8, 2013 7:00 am | News | Comments

Scientists have discovered a molecular invisibility cloak that enables HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, to hide inside cells of the body without triggering the body's natural defence systems. The findings could lead to new treatments and help to improve existing therapies for HIV infection.

‘Tumor-on-a-chip’ technology offers new direction

November 7, 2013 10:59 am | News | Comments

A two-year collaboration between the Chan and the Rocheleau labs at the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering has led to the development of a new microfluidics screening platform that can accurately predict the way nanoparticles will behave in a living body.

Understanding who is most susceptible to West Nile virus

November 5, 2013 11:23 am | News | Comments

A Yale Univ. study has uncovered a key genetic mechanism that may determine a person’s susceptibility to the ravages of West Nile virus. The Yale researchers focused on the protein ELF4, which is a transcription factor that controls the cellular signaling and flow of genetic information. Working with mice, they discovered that ELF4, when activated by viral infection, directly impacts the production of interferon.

Strep scorecard might help tell if doctor needed

November 4, 2013 5:17 pm | by LAURAN NEERGAARD - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Debating whether to seek a strep test for that sore throat? One day there could be a software application for that: Researchers are developing a home scorecard that aims to prevent thousands of unnecessary trips to the doctor for this common complaint. More than 12 million Americans make doctors' visits for a sore throat every year. Usually the culprit is a virus that they just have to wait out with a little care.

Study: Hefty soda tax would reduce U.K. obesity

October 31, 2013 7:31 pm | by MARIA CHENG - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Slapping a 20% tax on soda in Britain could cut the number of obese adults by about 180,000, according to a new study. Though the number works out to a modest drop of 1.3% in obesity, scientists say that reduction would still be worthwhile in the U.K., which has a population of about 63 million and is the fattest country in Western Europe. About one in four Britons is obese.

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