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Univ. Of Maryland, Baltimore's licensing deals fuel local life sciences community

August 6, 2013 8:30 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Univ. of Maryland Ventures announced agreements between Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore and five different life sciences companies across the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan region. The companies include Rexahn Pharmaceuticals, Plasmonix, IGI Technologies, A&G Pharmaceuticals and BioAssay Works.

Research reveals how the brain keeps eyes on the prize

August 5, 2013 10:15 am | by McGovern Institute for Brain Research | News | Comments

“Are we there yet?” As anyone who has traveled with young children knows, maintaining focus on distant goals can be a challenge. A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests how the brain achieves this task, and indicates that the neurotransmitter dopamine may signal the value of long-term rewards.

China, Russia halt some imports in botulism scare

August 4, 2013 9:52 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

China and Russia have halted imports of some New Zealand dairy products in response to a botulism scare, according to New Zealand government officials. New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra announced Saturday that up to 1,000 tons of infant formula, sports drinks and other products sold in seven countries could be tainted after tests turned up bacteria in whey protein that could cause botulism.

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Controlling contagion by restricting mobility

July 31, 2013 7:50 am | by Denise Brehm, Civil and Environmental Engineering | News | Comments

In an epidemic or a bioterrorist attack, the response of government officials could range from a drastic restriction of mobility to moderate travel restrictions in some areas or simple suggestions that people remain at home. Deciding to institute any measure would require officials to weigh the costs and benefits of action, but at present there’s little data to guide them. However, a new study comparing contagion rates may come in handy.

Pfizer sells key vaccine cheaply to poor countries

July 29, 2013 6:34 am | by LINDA A. JOHNSON - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Drugmaker Pfizer Inc. has agreed to provide hundreds of millions of doses of its lucrative vaccine against pneumonia and meningitis at a fraction of the usual price for young children in poor countries. The deal to provide 260 million shots of its Prevnar 13 vaccine for a few dollars each is Pfizer's third agreement under an innovative program.

Discovery of gene function may help prevent kidney stones

July 25, 2013 10:35 am | News | Comments

The discovery of a gene's function in E. coli and other bacteria might lead to a probiotic to prevent the most common type of kidney stone, according to a Purdue Univ. study. Human cells can't metabolize oxalate, an acidic chemical found in nearly all plants we eat, so any oxalate we absorb from food must be excreted from the body. Calcium-oxalate urinary stones can form when oxalate reaches a high concentration in the kidneys.

NIH funds new grants exploring use of genome sequencing in patient care

July 24, 2013 12:21 pm | News | Comments

The National Institutes of Health has awarded four grants for up to four years to multidisciplinary research teams to explore the use of genome sequencing in medical care. The awards total approximately $6.7 million in the first year and, if funding remains available, approximately $27 million in total.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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