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IBM's Watson to help in brain cancer research

March 19, 2014 3:20 pm | by Bree Fowler - AP Technology Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

IBM is teaming up with the New York Genome Center to help fight brain cancer. The company said Wednesday that its Watson cloud computing system will be used in partnership with a New York-based genetic research center to help develop treatments for glioblastoma, the most common type of brain cancer in U.S. adults.

Fast synthesis could boost drug development

March 19, 2014 7:42 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Small protein fragments, also called peptides, are promising as drugs because they can be designed for very specific functions inside living cells. Insulin and the HIV drug Fuzeon are some of the earliest successful examples, and peptide drugs are expected to become a $25 billion market by 2018. However, a major bottleneck has prevented peptide drugs from reaching their full potential.

New lens design improves kidney stone treatment

March 18, 2014 10:53 am | by Ken Kingery, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

Duke Univ. engineers have devised a way to improve the efficiency of lithotripsy—the demolition of kidney stones using focused shock waves. After decades of research, all it took was cutting a groove near the perimeter of the shock wave-focusing lens and changing its curvature.

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Scientists slow development of Alzheimer’s trademark cell-killing plaques

March 18, 2014 10:12 am | by Laura Bailey, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Univ. of Michigan researchers have learned how to fix a cellular structure called the Golgi that mysteriously becomes fragmented in all Alzheimer's patients and appears to be a major cause of the disease. They say that understanding this mechanism helps decode amyloid plaque formation in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, plaques that kills cells and contributes to memory loss and other Alzheimer's symptoms.

Scientists track evolution of a superbug

March 18, 2014 8:59 am | News | Comments

Using genome sequencing, National Institutes of Health scientists and their colleagues have tracked the evolution of the antibiotic-resistant bacterium Klebsiella pneumoniae sequence type 258 (ST258), an important agent of hospital-acquired infections. Their results promise to help guide the development of new strategies to diagnose, prevent and treat this emerging public health threat.

Bacterial reporters that get the scoop

March 18, 2014 7:55 am | by Kristen Kusek, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

It's a jungle in there. In the tightly woven ecosystem of the human gut, trillions of bacteria compete with each other on a daily basis while they sense and react to signals from the immune system, ingested food and other bacteria. Problems arise when bad gut bugs overtake friendly ones, or when the immune system is thrown off balance.

Team implants human innate immune cells in mice

March 17, 2014 11:51 am | by Helen Dodson, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Overcoming a major limitation to the study of the origins and progress of human disease, Yale Univ. researchers report that they have transplanted human innate immune cells into mouse models, which resulted in human immune responses. This study has reproduced human immune function at a level not seen previously, and could significantly improve the translation of knowledge gained from mouse studies into humans.

Study to test "chocolate" pills for heart health

March 17, 2014 2:18 am | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

It won't be nearly as much fun as eating candy bars, but a big study is being launched to see if pills containing the nutrients in dark chocolate can help prevent heart attacks and strokes. The pills are so packed with nutrients that you'd have to eat a gazillion candy bars to get the amount being tested in this study, which will enroll 18,000 men and women nationwide.

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Research update: Battling infection with microbes

March 13, 2014 8:19 am | by Jessica Stoller-Conrad, Caltech | News | Comments

The human relationship with microbial life is complicated. At almost any supermarket, you can pick up both antibacterial soap and probiotic yogurt during the same shopping trip. Although there are types of bacteria that can make us sick, a California Institute of Technology team is most interested in the thousands of other bacteria, many already living inside our bodies, that actually keep us healthy.

Study: Pfizer vaccine cuts pneumonia in elderly

March 12, 2014 6:22 pm | by Linda A. Johnson - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Pfizer Inc. said Wednesday that its blockbuster vaccine against pneumonia, blood and other infections met its goal of preventing illness in vulnerable elderly patients in a huge study required by U.S. regulators. The New York-based company's Prevnar 13 protects against 13 strains of pneumococcal disease, which can cause painful children's ear infections, pneumonia and life-threatening bloodstream infections.

Cheaper, more aggressive prostate cancer treatment may also be riskier

March 12, 2014 11:40 am | by Karen N. Peart, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

A faster and less expensive form of radiotherapy for treating prostate cancer may come at a price, according to a new study by Yale School of Medicine researchers—a higher rate of urinary toxicity or urine poisoning. The standard therapy for prostate cancer is called intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) is a newer treatment that delivers a greater dose of radiation than IMRT.

U.S. gene mapping study shows promise, challenges

March 11, 2014 6:20 pm | by Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

These days, it's faster and cheaper than ever to decipher a person's entire DNA. But a small U.S. study suggests that looking for disease risks that way may not be ready for the masses. For one thing, the research found that gene variants most likely linked with significant disease were the least likely to be accurately identified.

FDA approves electric headband to prevent migraine

March 11, 2014 5:19 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it approved a Belgium-made nerve-stimulating headband as the first medical device to prevent migraine headaches. Agency officials said the device provides a new option for patients who can't tolerate migraine medications. The Cefaly device is a battery-powered plastic band worn across the forehead.

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Technique uses ATP as trigger for targeted anti-cancer drug delivery

March 11, 2014 12:50 pm | News | Comments

Biomedical engineering researchers have developed a new technique that uses adenosine-5’-triphosphate (ATP), the so-called “energy molecule,” to trigger the release of anti-cancer drugs directly into cancer cells. Early laboratory tests show it increases the effectiveness of drugs targeting breast cancer. The technique was developed by researchers at North Carolina State Univ. and the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Diagnosing diseases with smartphones

March 11, 2014 9:59 am | by Toby Weber, Univ. of Houston | News | Comments

Smartphones are capable of giving us directions when we’re lost, sending photos and videos to our friends in mere seconds and, perhaps very soon, diagnose our diseases in real time. Researchers in Texas are developing a disease diagnostic system made of a glass slide and a porous film of gold that offers results that could be read using only a smartphone and a $20 lens attachment.

How tumors escape

March 11, 2014 7:43 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

About 90% of cancer deaths are caused by tumors that have spread from their original locations. This process, known as metastasis, requires cancer cells to break loose from their neighbors and from the supportive scaffold that gives tissues their structure. Cancer biologists have now discovered that certain proteins in this structure, known as the extracellular matrix, help cancer cells make their escape.

Chemists discover new class of antibiotics

March 9, 2014 11:43 pm | News | Comments

A team of Univ. of Notre Dame researchers have discovered a new class of antibiotics to fight bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other drug-resistant bacteria. Called oxadiazoles, the new class was discovered through in silico (by computer) screening and has shown promise in the treatment of MRSA in mouse models of infection.  

Liver metabolism study could help patients awaiting transplants

March 7, 2014 1:39 pm | News | Comments

In a new study that could help doctors extend the lives of patients awaiting liver transplants, a Rice Univ.-led team of researchers examined the metabolic breakdown that takes place in liver cells during late-stage cirrhosis and found clues that suggest new treatments to delay liver failure.

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.

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.

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