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Can sunlight lower your blood pressure?

January 20, 2014 12:58 pm | News | Comments

Exposing skin to sunlight may help to reduce blood pressure and, thus, cut the risk of heart attack and stroke, a recently published study suggests. Research carried out at the Univs. of Southampton and Edinburgh shows that sunlight alters levels of the small messenger molecule, nitric oxide (NO) in the skin and blood, reducing blood pressure.

Preventing cell death from infection

January 20, 2014 8:25 am | News | Comments

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have demonstrated the power of a new drug discovery technique, which allows them to find, relatively quickly and cheaply, antibodies that have a desired effect on cells. The TSRI scientists used the technique to discover two antibodies that protect human cells from a cold virus.

Erasing traumatic memories

January 17, 2014 7:49 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Nearly 8 million Americans suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition marked by severe anxiety stemming from a traumatic event such as a battle or violent attack. Many patients undergo psychotherapy. However, Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientists have now shown that they can extinguish well-established traumatic memories in mice by giving them a type of drug called an HDAC2 inhibitor.

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Early gene therapy trial for blindness promising

January 16, 2014 10:43 am | by MARIA CHENG - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A small, preliminary study using gene therapy to treat a rare form of blindness is promising and could trigger similar efforts for other causes of vision loss, British doctors say. They studied just six patients. Of those, two have had dramatic improvements in their vision and none has reported any serious side effects. The study was only designed to test the treatment's safety, not its effectiveness.

Study dispels "obesity paradox" idea for diabetics

January 15, 2014 5:57 pm | by MARILYNN MARCHIONE - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The controversial notion that being overweight might actually be healthier for some people with diabetes seems to be a myth, researchers report. A major study finds there's no survival advantage to being large, and a disadvantage to being very large. More than 24 million Americans have diabetes, mostly Type 2, the kind that is on the rise because of obesity. About two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight, including one-third who are obese.

Merck blood thinner gets "yes" vote from FDA panel

January 15, 2014 5:10 pm | by MATTHEW PERRONE - AP Health Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A panel of federal experts has recommended approval for an experimental blood thinner from Merck despite serious side effects including internal bleeding. The Food and Drug Administration's panel of cardiology experts voted 10-1 Wednesday in favor of approving the pill vorapaxar to help prevent blood clots in patients with a history of heart attacks.

Key to Lyme disease’s locale may be found in a tick’s gut

January 15, 2014 4:28 pm | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

The prevalence of Lyme disease varies greatly between different locales throughout the Northeast, even though the deer ticks that transmit Lyme bacterium are common throughout the entire region. A new study by researchers at the Yale School of Medicine suggests an unusual explanation to the mystery: differences in the makeup of microbes in the guts of the ticks.

Smart gels deliver medicine on demand

January 15, 2014 10:04 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Delaware have developed a “smart” hydrogel that can deliver medicine on demand, in response to mechanical force. Over the past few decades, smart hydrogels have been created that respond to pH, temperature, DNA, light and other stimuli.

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Molecular nano-spies to make light work of disease detection

January 14, 2014 9:26 am | News | Comments

A world of cloak-and-dagger pharmaceuticals has come a step closer with the development of stealth compounds programmed to spring into action when they receive the signal. Researchers in the U.K. have designed and tested large molecular complexes that will reveal their true identity only when they’ve reached their intended target, like disguised saboteurs working deep behind enemy lines.

Scientists develop promising drug candidates for pain, addiction

January 14, 2014 8:07 am | News | Comments

Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute have described a pair of drug candidates that advance the search for new treatments for pain, addiction and other disorders. The two new drug scaffolds offer researchers novel tools that act on a demonstrated therapeutic target, the kappa opioid receptor (KOR), which is located on nerve cells and plays a role in the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

How the immune system fights off malaria

January 14, 2014 7:47 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

The parasites that cause malaria are exquisitely adapted to the various hosts they infect; so studying the disease in mice doesn’t necessarily reveal information that could lead to drugs effective against human disease. Now, a team of researchers has developed a strain of mice that mimics most features of the human immune system and can be infected with the most common human form of the malaria parasite, known as Plasmodium falciparum.

Tricky protein may help HIV vaccine development

January 13, 2014 3:48 pm | News | Comments

Duke Univ. scientists have taken aim at what may be an Achilles' heel of the HIV virus. Combining expertise in biochemistry, immunology and advanced computation, researchers at Duke have determined the structure of a key part of the HIV envelope protein, the gp41 membrane proximal external region (MPER), which previously eluded detailed structural description.

Discovering where HIV persists in spite of treatment

January 13, 2014 1:02 pm | by Sue McGreevey, Massachusetts General Hospital Public Affairs | News | Comments

HIV antiviral therapy lets infected people live relatively healthy lives for many years, but the virus doesn’t go away completely. If treatment stops, the virus multiplies again from hidden reservoirs in the body. Now, investigators from the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Ragon Institute may have found HIV’s viral hiding place—in a small group of recently identified T-cells with stem cell-like properties.

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Scientists solve 40-year-old mystery of how sodium controls opioid brain signaling

January 13, 2014 10:53 am | News | Comments

Scientists have discovered how the element sodium influences the signaling of a major class of brain cell receptors, known as opioid receptors. The discovery, from The Scripps Research Institute and the Univ. of North Carolina, suggests new therapeutic approaches to a host of brain-related medical conditions.

Researchers develop artificial bone marrow

January 10, 2014 12:51 pm | News | Comments

A new porous structure under development in German possesses essential properties of natural bone marrow and can be used for the reproduction of stem cells in the laboratory. The specific reproduction of these hematopoietic cells outside the body might facilitate new therapies for leukemia in a few years.

Scientists control cells following transplantation, from the inside out

January 10, 2014 10:08 am | News | Comments

Harvard Univ. stem cells scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts Institute of Technology can now engineer cells that are more easily controlled following transplantation, potentially making cell therapies, hundreds of which are currently in clinical trials across the U.S., more functional and efficient.

A Synthetic Solution Saves Lives

January 9, 2014 2:24 pm | by Lindsay Hock | Articles | Comments

In the 2nd century BC, Indian surgeon Sushruta used autografted skin transplantation in nose reconstruction, also known as rhinoplasty. This was the first reasonable account of organ transplantation recorded. The first successful human corneal transplant was performed in 1905 in the Czech Republic, and the first steps to skin transplantation occurred during World War I. The first successful kidney transplant happened in 1962 in the U.S.

Simple test can indicate cervical cancer

January 9, 2014 8:23 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Louisville have confirmed that using the heat profile from a person’s blood, called a plasma thermogram, can serve as an indicator for the presence or absence of cervical cancer, including the stage of cancer. To generate a plasma thermogram, a blood plasma sample is melted, producing a unique signature indicating a person’s health status.

Study: Thinking positive helps migraine drug work

January 8, 2014 3:29 pm | by LAURAN NEERGAARD - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Talk about mind over matter: A quirky new study suggests patients' expectations can make a big difference in how they feel after treatment for a migraine. Boston researchers recruited 66 migraine patients in an attempt to quantify how much of their pain relief came from a medication and how much was due to what's called the placebo effect, the healing power of positive belief.

Chemical imaging brings cancer tissue analysis into the digital age

January 8, 2014 9:33 am | News | Comments

A new method for analyzing biological samples' chemical makeup is set to transform the way medical scientists examine diseased tissue. When tests are carried out on a patient’s tissue today, such as to look for cancer, the test has to be interpreted by a histology specialist, and can take weeks to obtain a full result. Mass spectrometry imaging uses technologies that reveal how chemical components are distributed in a tissue sample.

On-demand vaccines possible with engineered nanoparticles

January 8, 2014 8:02 am | News | Comments

Vaccines combat diseases and protect populations from outbreaks, but the life-saving technology leaves room for improvement. Vaccines usually are made en masse in centralized locations far removed from where they will be used. They are expensive to ship and keep refrigerated and they tend to have short shelf lives. However, Univ. of Washington engineers have developed hope for on-demand vaccines.

Costs for complications from cancer surgical care extremely high

January 6, 2014 11:14 am | News | Comments

Although complications from surgical care for cancer patients may seem infrequent, the costs associated with such outcomes are extremely high, according to researchers from Rice Univ.’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and the Univ. of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Technique targets specific areas of cancer cells with different drugs

January 6, 2014 10:50 am | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a technique for creating nanoparticles that carry two different cancer-killing drugs into the body and deliver those drugs to separate parts of the cancer cell where they will be most effective. The technique was developed by researchers at North Carolina State Univ. and the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Chinese herbal compound relieves inflammatory, neuropathic pain

January 2, 2014 1:52 pm | News | Comments

A compound derived from a traditional Chinese herbal medicine has been found effective at alleviating pain, pointing the way to a new non-addictive analgesic for acute inflammatory and nerve pain, according to Univ. of California Irvine (UC Irvine) pharmacology researchers. Working with Chinese scientists, the UC Irvine team isolated a compound called dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB) from the roots of the Corydalis yanhusuo plant.

Vapor nanobubbles rapidly detect malaria through the skin

January 2, 2014 8:09 am | News | Comments

Rice Univ. researchers have developed a noninvasive technology that accurately detects low levels of malaria infection through the skin in seconds with a laser scanner. The “vapor nanobubble” technology requires no dyes or diagnostic chemicals, and there is no need to draw blood. A preclinical study shows that Rice’s technology detected even a single malaria-infected cell among a million normal cells with zero false-positive readings.

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