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Single bacterial super-clone behind epidemic of drug-resistant E. coli

December 18, 2013 3:38 pm | News | Comments

Virulent, drug-resistant forms of E. coli that have recently spread around the world emerged from a single strain of the bacteria. The strain causes millions of urinary, kidney and bloodstream infections a year. It could have a far greater clinical and economic impact than any other strain of bacteria, including the so-called MRSA superbug.

Superbugs found breeding in sewage plants

December 18, 2013 8:37 am | News | Comments

Tests at two wastewater treatment plants in northern China revealed antibiotic-resistant bacteria were not only escaping purification but also breeding and spreading their dangerous cargo. Scientists found “superbugs” carrying New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM-1), a multidrug-resistant gene first identified in India in 2010, in wastewater disinfected by chlorination.

New drug, study method show breast cancer promise

December 13, 2013 12:22 pm | by MARILYNN MARCHIONE - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A novel and faster way to test cancer drugs has yielded its first big result: An experimental medicine that shows promise against a hard-to-treat form of breast cancer. The method involves studying drugs in small groups of people to quickly separate winners from duds. Bringing a new cancer drug to market usually takes more than a decade and tests in thousands of patients, and costs more than $1 billion.

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Team identifies mechanism of cancer spread

December 13, 2013 9:59 am | News | Comments

Cancer involves a breakdown of normal cell behavior. Cell reproduction and movement go haywire, causing tumors to grow and spread through the body. A new finding by Univ. of Pennsylvania scientists has identified key steps that trigger this disintegration of cellular regulation. Their discovery—that a protein called Exo70 has a split personality—points to new possibilities for diagnosing cancer metastasis.

U.S. ranks near bottom among industrialized nations in efficiency of health care spending

December 13, 2013 9:05 am | News | Comments

A new study by researchers at the Univ. of California, Los Angeles and McGill Univ. reveals that the U.S. health care system ranks 22nd out of 27 high-income nations when analyzed for its efficiency of turning dollars spent into extending lives. The study illuminates stark differences in countries' efficiency of spending on health care, and the U.S.'s inferior ranking reflects a high price paid and a low return on investment.

Using air transportation data to predict pandemics

December 13, 2013 8:53 am | News | Comments

Computational work conducted at Northwestern Univ. has led to a new mathematical theory for understanding the global spread of epidemics. The resulting insights could not only help identify an outbreak’s origin but could also significantly improve the ability to forecast the global pathways through which a disease might spread.

U.K. says cure or drug for dementia possible by 2025

December 11, 2013 11:37 am | by MARIA CHENG - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron says he hopes to kick-start an international effort to find a cure or effective treatment for dementia by 2025. At a one-day summit on dementia hosted by the U.K., Cameron declared that discovering a cure or treatment for dementia is "within our grasp." The Group of Eight health and science ministers signed a declaration agreeing to identify "a cure or disease-modifying therapy for dementia" by 2025.

Blood clots absorb bacterial toxin

December 11, 2013 8:07 am | Videos | Comments

Blood clots play an unexpected role in protecting the body from the deadly effects of bacteria by absorbing bacterial toxins, researchers have found. Even with modern antibiotics, septic shock from bacterial infections afflicts about 300,000 people a year in the U.S., with a mortality rate of 30 to 50%. Septic shock is caused by Gram-negative bacteria, which release a toxin called lipopolysaccharide or endotoxin.

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A Distant Hope

December 10, 2013 3:00 pm | by Lindsay Hock | Articles | Comments

In early March, in a rural Mississippi hospital, an infant was born to an HIV-infected mother. The chances of an infant contracting HIV from an infected mother not receiving antiretroviral treatment is around 25% in the U.S., and this child was on the wrong end of that statistic. Dr. Deborah Persaud, a Johns Hopkins Children’s Center HIV expert, knew that meant this baby would only have a 50% chance of living past the age of nine years.

Tech for Faster Diagnosis, Cures

December 10, 2013 2:52 pm | by Lindsay Hock | Articles | Comments

In January 2013, an assoc. prof of biomedical engineering at Columbia Univ., Samuel K. Sia, developed a lab-on-a-chip technology that not only checks a patient’s HIV status with a finger prick, it also synchronizes the results automatically and instantaneously with central health care records. The technology, developed in collaboration with OPKO Diagnostics and called mChip, performs all ELISA functions, and produces results within 15 min.

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.

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.

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.

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