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New clues illuminate Alzheimer’s roots

July 24, 2013 7:45 am | News | Comments

Scientists at Rice Univ. and the Univ. of Miami have figured out how synthetic molecules designed at Rice latch onto the amyloid peptide fibrils thought to be responsible for Alzheimer’s disease. Their discovery could point the way toward therapies to halt or even reverse the insidious disease.

Skipping breakfast may increase heart attack risk

July 22, 2013 4:00 pm | by MIKE STOBBE - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Another reason to eat breakfast: Skipping it may increase your chances of a heart attack. A study of older men found those who regularly skipped breakfast had a 27% higher risk of a heart attack than those who ate a morning meal. There's no reason why the results wouldn't apply to other people, too, the Harvard researchers said.

Bacteriophages battle superbugs

July 18, 2013 4:11 pm | News | Comments

Microbiologists in France are reinvigorating a way of battling C. difficile infections that they hope will help overcome the growing problem of antibiotic resistant superbugs in hospitals. Using a model human colon, the researchers showed that the administration of a specific bacteriophage significantly reduced toxins and the number of C. difficile cells produced without significantly affecting the other members of the gut microbiota.

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New way to target an old foe: malaria

July 18, 2013 3:57 pm | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Although malaria has been eradicated in many countries, including the United States, it still infects more than 200 million people worldwide, killing nearly a million every year. In a major step toward reducing that number, a team led by MIT researchers has now developed a way to grow liver tissue that can support the liver stage of the life cycle of the two most common species of malaria.

New approach protects prion protein from altering shape

July 18, 2013 2:15 pm | News | Comments

A team of researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have identified a mechanism that can prevent the normal prion protein from changing its molecular shape into the abnormal form responsible for neurodegenerative diseases. This finding offers new hope in the battle against a foe that until now has always proved fatal.

Nature’s own nanoparticles harnessed to target disease

July 10, 2013 10:56 am | News | Comments

Using a novel form of immune-genetic therapy, researchers from Yale Univ. and Jagiellonian Univ. in Poland have successfully inhibited a strong immune allergic inflammatory response in the skin of mice. The results suggest the technique could be used to combat a variety of diseases. The delivery system consists of naturally occurring nanoparticles called exosomes that are about one-thousandth the size of donor cells that release them.

Two stem cell patients stop HIV drugs, no virus seen

July 3, 2013 10:41 am | by EILEEN NG - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Two HIV-positive patients in the United States who underwent bone marrow transplants for cancer have stopped anti-retroviral therapy and still show no detectable sign of the HIV virus, researchers said Wednesday. The Harvard Univ. researchers stressed it was too early to say the men have been cured, but said it was an encouraging sign that the virus hasn't rebounded in their blood months after drug treatment ended.

Leaf cutter ants inspire new anti-cancer drugs

July 3, 2013 9:08 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the Univ. of East Anglia are developing a new class of anti-cancer drugs that are not only powerful but also circumvent a primary cause of resistance to chemotherapy. The work is inspired by nature’s fungus farmer, the leaf cutter ant.

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Simple math may solve longstanding problem of parasite energetics

July 2, 2013 4:39 pm | News | Comments

Feeling faint from the flu? Is your cold causing you to collapse? Your infection is the most likely cause, and, according to a new study by Univ. of California, Santa Barbara research scientist Ryan Hechinger, it may be possible to know just how much energy your bugs are taking from you.

DNA particles may help speed detection of coronary artery disease

July 1, 2013 11:50 am | News | Comments

In a recent study, researchers used computed tomography imaging to look for hardened, or calcified, buildup in the blood vessels that supply the heart and found that higher levels of DNA particles in the blood were linked to high levels of coronary artery calcium deposits. The finding may help doctors in the future more quickly determine which patients with chest pain are likely to have narrowed coronary arteries.

Latest bird flu strain 'kills more than a third'

June 24, 2013 8:59 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

More than a third of patients infected with a new strain of bird flu died after being admitted to the hospital earlier this year, Chinese researchers report in a new study. Since the new H7N9 bird flu first broke out in China in late March, the strain has sickened more than 130 people and killed 37. The World Health Organization has previously described H7N9 as "one of the most lethal influenza viruses" it has ever seen.

FDA approves Abbot Labs hepatitis C genotype test

June 20, 2013 3:13 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the first blood test that can identify different strains of the hepatitis C virus to help guide a patient's treatment. Abbot Laboratories Inc.'s RealTime HCV Genotype II test is designed to figure out the strain of the virus in patients who are already known to have hepatitis C rather than diagnosing patients with the virus itself.

New MERS virus spreads easily, deadlier than SARS

June 20, 2013 8:46 am | by MARIA CHENG - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A mysterious new respiratory virus that originated in the Middle East spreads easily between people and appears more deadly than SARS, doctors reported Wednesday after investigating the biggest outbreak in Saudi Arabia. More than 60 cases of what is now called MERS, including 38 deaths, have been recorded by the World Health Organization in the past year.

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Is artificial sweetener a potential treatment for Parkinson’s disease?

June 17, 2013 11:42 am | News | Comments

Mannitol, a sugar alcohol produced by fungi, bacteria and algae, is a common component of sugar-free gum and candy. The sweetener is also used in the medical field. Now a team from Tel Aviv Univ. have found that mannitol also prevents clumps of a protein from forming in the brain—a process that is characteristic of Parkinson's disease.

A potential target to thwart antibiotic resistance

June 11, 2013 7:41 am | News | Comments

Bacteria in the gut that are under attack by antibiotics have allies no one had anticipated, a team of Harvard Univ. Wyss Institute scientists has found. Gut viruses that usually commandeer the bacteria, it turns out, enable them to survive the antibiotic onslaught, most likely by handing them genes that help them withstand the drug.

$18 million to study deadly secrets of viruses

June 7, 2013 4:01 pm | News | Comments

In an effort to sort out why some viruses such as influenza, Ebola and West Nile are so lethal, a team of U.S. researchers plans a comprehensive effort to model how humans respond to these viral pathogens. The study will be led by a Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison professor. Teams from Washington Univ. in St. Louis and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, also will play key roles in the study.

Compulsive no more

June 6, 2013 3:00 pm | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

By activating a brain circuit that controls compulsive behavior, Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientists have shown that they can block a compulsive behavior in mice—a result that could help researchers develop new treatments for diseases such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and Tourette’s syndrome.

Zebrafish help identify mutant gene in rare muscle disease

June 4, 2013 1:17 pm | News | Comments

Zebrafish with very weak muscles helped scientists decode the elusive genetic mutation responsible for Native American myopathy, a rare, hereditary muscle disease that afflicts Native Americans in North Carolina. Scientists originally identified the gene in mutant zebrafish that exhibited severe muscle weakness. The responsible gene encodes for a muscle protein called Stac3.

Evolution in the blink of an eye

May 30, 2013 1:12 pm | News | Comments

A disease in songbirds has rapidly evolved to become more harmful to its host at least twice in two decades, scientists report. The research offers a model to help understand how diseases that threaten humans may change in virulence as they become more prevalent in a host population.

Wit, grit, and a supercomputer yield chemical structure of HIV capsid

May 29, 2013 5:43 pm | News | Comments

Researchers report that they have determined the precise chemical structure of the HIV capsid, a protein shell that protects the virus’s genetic material and is a key to its virulence. The capsid has become an attractive target for the development of new antiretroviral drugs. The researchers used the University of Illinois’ supercomputer Blue Waters to determine the complete HIV capsid structure.

Engineered stem cell advance points toward treatment for ALS

May 28, 2013 10:54 am | News | Comments

Transplantation of human stem cells in an experiment conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison improved survival and muscle function in rats used to model ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a nerve disease that destroys nerve control of muscles, causing death by respiratory failure.

Cinnamon: Could it prevent Alzheimer's?

May 24, 2013 10:42 am | News | Comments

Cinnamon: Can the red-brown spice with the unmistakable fragrance and variety of uses offer an important benefit? The common baking spice might hold the key to delaying the onset of—or warding off—the effects of Alzheimer's disease. That is, according to scientists at University of California, Santa Barbara.

FDA approves blood test to diagnose diabetes

May 23, 2013 5:23 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it approved a new blood test from Roche to help doctors diagnose diabetes. The Cobas Integra 800 is a blood test that measures a patient's average blood sugar level over the previous three months. In particular, the test measures an oxygen-carrying blood component known as hemoglobin.

Measles surges in U.K. years after flawed research

May 20, 2013 12:16 pm | by MARIA CHENG - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

More than a decade ago, British parents refused to give measles shots to at least a million children because of now discredited research that linked the vaccine to autism. Now, health officials are scrambling to catch up and stop a growing epidemic of the contagious disease.

X-ray method shows how frog embryos could help thwart disease

May 20, 2013 9:25 am | News | Comments

An international team of scientists using a new X-ray method recorded the internal structure and cell movement inside a living frog embryo in greater detail than ever before. This result showcases a new method to advance biological research and the search for new treatments for genetic diseases.

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