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Flu winds down as FDA aims for better vaccine next winter

March 4, 2015 5:10 pm | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

The miserable flu season is winding down but not quite over yet, health officials said Wednesday, even the government picked what it hoped would be a better vaccine recipe for next fall and winter. If it seems early to worry about the next flu season, well, producing 140 million doses of vaccine requires starting months in advance.

Giant virus revealed in 3-D using x-ray laser

March 3, 2015 8:31 am | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | News | Comments

For the first time, researchers have produced a 3-D image revealing part of the inner structure...

Fighting parasites with their own genomes

March 3, 2015 7:47 am | by Jessica Stoller-Conrad, Caltech | News | Comments

Tiny parasitic hookworms infect nearly half a billion people worldwide, almost exclusively in...

Nanodevice defeats drug resistance

March 3, 2015 7:30 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Chemotherapy often shrinks tumors at first, but as cancer cells become resistant to drug...

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Can an HIV drug beat strep throat, flesh-eating bacteria?

February 25, 2015 8:44 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

With antibiotic resistance on the rise, scientists are looking for innovative ways to combat bacterial infections. The pathogen that causes conditions from strep throat to flesh-eating disease is among them, but scientists have now found a tool that could help them fight it: a drug approved to treat HIV. Their work, appearing in ACS Chemical Biology, could someday lead to new treatments.

Garlic extract could help cystic fibrosis patients fight infection

February 24, 2015 12:31 pm | by Corin Campbell, Univ. of Edinburgh | News | Comments

A chemical found in garlic can kill bacteria that cause life-threatening lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis, research suggests. The study is the first to show that the chemical, known as allicin, could be an effective treatment against a group of infectious bacteria that is highly resistant to most antibiotics.

Key protein found that allows Plavis to conquer platelets

February 24, 2015 8:38 am | by Mark Derewicz, Univ. of North Carolina Health Care | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of North Carolina School of Medicine have found that the blood platelet protein Rasa3 is critical to the success of the common anti-platelet drug Plavix, which breaks up blood clots during heart attacks and other arterial diseases. The discovery details how Rasa3 is part of a cellular pathway crucial for platelet activity during clot formation.

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Quick test for Ebola

February 24, 2015 7:36 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

When diagnosing a case of Ebola, time is of the essence. However, existing diagnostic tests take at least a day or two to yield results, preventing health care workers from quickly determining whether a patient needs immediate treatment and isolation. A new test could change that: The device, a simple paper strip similar to a pregnancy test, can rapidly diagnose Ebola, as well as other viral hemorrhagic fevers.

Ebola drug shows some promise in first tests in West Africa

February 23, 2015 7:09 pm | by Marilynn Marchione, AP Chief Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

An experimental antiviral drug shows some early, encouraging signs of effectiveness in its first human test against Ebola in West Africa, but only if patients get it when their symptoms first appear. A study of the drug, favipiravir, is still in early stages in West Africa, and too few people have been treated to really know whether the drug helps.

How T cells cause inflammation during infections

February 23, 2015 8:08 am | by Susan Griffith, Case Western Reserve Univ. | News | Comments

Case Western Reserve Univ. dental researcher Pushpa Pandiyan has discovered a new way to model how infection-fighting T cells cause inflammation in mice. The hope is that the discovery can lead to new therapies or drugs that jump-start weakened or poorly functioning immune systems. Pandiyan believes the process could lead to identifying and testing new drugs to replace antifungal medicines.

N. Korea bars tourists from marathon over Ebola concerns

February 22, 2015 11:06 pm | by Eric Talmadge, Associated Press | News | Comments

North Korean authorities are barring foreigners from this year's Pyongyang marathon, a popular tourist event, amid ongoing Ebola travel restrictions, the head of a travel agency that specializes in the country said Monday. Nick Bonner, co-founder of Beijing-based Koryo Tours, said more than 400 foreign runners had signed up with his agency alone for the event, which is to be held April 12.

New insight into fragile protein linked to cancer, autism

February 20, 2015 11:05 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

In recent years, scientists have found a surprising a connection between some people with autism and certain cancer patients: They have mutations in the same gene, one that codes for a protein critical for normal cellular health. Now scientists have reported in Biochemistry that the defects reduce the activity and stability of the protein. Their findings could someday help lead to new treatments for both sets of patients.

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FDA eases access to DNA screening for inherited diseases

February 19, 2015 9:08 pm | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Federal health officials are easing access to DNA tests used to screen parents for devastating genetic disorders that can be passed on to their children. The surprise announcement offers a path forward for Google-backed genetic testing firm 23andMe, which previously clashed with regulators over its direct-to-consumer technology.

Cancer risk linked to DNA 'wormholes'

February 19, 2015 8:58 am | by Institute of Cancer Research | News | Comments

Single-letter genetic variations within parts of the genome once dismissed as 'junk DNA' can increase cancer risk through wormhole-like effects on far-off genes, new research shows.

Epigenomics of Alzheimer’s disease progression

February 18, 2015 9:50 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Our susceptibility to disease depends both on the genes that we inherit from our parents and on our lifetime experiences. These two components—nature and nurture—seem to affect very different processes in the context of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study published in Nature.

Molecular inhibitor breaks cycle that leads to Alzheimer’s

February 17, 2015 11:02 am | by Tom Kirk, Univ. of Cambridge | News | Comments

A molecule that can block the progress of Alzheimer's disease at a crucial stage in its development has been identified by researchers in a new study, raising the prospect that more such molecules may now be found. The report shows that a molecular chaperone can play the role of an "inhibitor" part-way through the molecular process that's thought to cause Alzheimer's.

More infectious diseases emerging because of climate change

February 17, 2015 9:03 am | by Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln Communications | News | Comments

The appearance of infectious diseases in new places and new hosts, such as West Nile virus and Ebola, is a predictable result of climate change, says a noted zoologist affiliated with the Harold W. Manter Laboratory of Parasitology at the Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln.  

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Rivers can be a source of antibiotic resistance

February 13, 2015 2:43 pm | by Univ. or Warwick | News | Comments

Rivers and streams could be a major source of antibiotic resistance in the environment. The discovery comes following a study on the Thames river by scientists at the Univ. of Warwick and the Univ. of Exeter. The study found that greater numbers of resistant bacteria exist close to some waste water treatment works, and that these plants are likely to be responsible for at least half of the increase observed.

Nasty flu season has peaked, is retreating

February 13, 2015 2:16 pm | by Mike Stobbe, AP Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

A new report shows this winter's nasty flu season has peaked and is clearly retreating. The flu reached its highest levels around the beginning of January, and stayed there for weeks. The government report out Friday shows flu has become less widespread and less intense in the last couple of weeks in most parts of the country.

Cell's Own Mechanism to Blocking Flu

February 13, 2015 7:00 am | by Rockefeller Univ. | News | Comments

Viruses are masters of outsourcing, entrusting their fundamental function– reproduction– to the host cells they infect. But it turns out this highly economical approach also creates vulnerability. Researchers have found an unexpected way the immune system exploits the flu virus’ dependence on its host’s machinery to create new viruses capable of spreading infection.  

Serotonin-deficient brains more vulnerable to social stress

February 10, 2015 8:48 am | by Karl Bates, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

Mice genetically deficient in serotonin, a crucial brain chemical implicated in clinical depression, are more vulnerable than their normal littermates to social stressors, according to a Duke Univ. study. Following exposure to stress, the serotonin-deficient mice also did not respond to a standard antidepressant, fluoxetine (Prozac), which works by boosting serotonin transmission between neighboring neurons.

Engineered insulin could offer better diabetes control

February 10, 2015 8:41 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

For patients with diabetes, insulin is critical to maintaining good health and normal blood-sugar levels. However, it’s not an ideal solution because it can be difficult for patients to determine exactly how much insulin they need to prevent their blood sugar from swinging too high or too low. Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers hope to improve treatment for diabetes patients with a new type of engineered insulin.

What autism can teach us about brain cancer

February 9, 2015 9:34 am | by Catherine Kolf, Johns Hopkins Univ. | News | Comments

Applying lessons learned from autism to brain cancer, researchers at The Johns Hopkins Univ. have discovered why elevated levels of the protein NHE9 add to the lethality of the most common and aggressive form of brain cancer, glioblastoma. Their discovery suggests that drugs designed to target NHE9 could help to successfully fight the deadly disease.

Twists, turns, eventually lead to promising Ebola vaccine

February 9, 2015 4:18 am | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

It took 16 years of twists and turns. Over and over, Dr. Nancy Sullivan thought she was close to an Ebola vaccine, only to see the next experiment fail. "A case of resuscitation more than once," is how the National Institutes of Health researcher describes the journey.

Evaluating strategies for HIV vaccination

February 6, 2015 11:21 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Through an investigation of a fundamental process that guides the maturation of immune cells, researchers have revealed new insights into possible ways to vaccinate people to generate potent antibodies of the type that are predicted to offer protection against diverse strains of the highly mutable HIV. 

Another reason to drink wine: It could help you burn fat

February 6, 2015 9:48 am | by Gail Wells, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Drinking red grape juice or wine in moderation could improve the health of overweight people by helping them burn fat better, according to a new study coauthored by an Oregon State Univ. researcher. The findings suggest that consuming dark-colored grapes, whether eating them or drinking juice or wine, might help people better manage obesity and related metabolic disorders such as fatty liver.

New source of cells for modeling malaria

February 6, 2015 9:40 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

In 2008, the World Health Organization announced a global effort to eradicate malaria, which kills about 800,000 people every year. As part of that goal, scientists are trying to develop new drugs that target the malaria parasite during the stage when it infects the human liver, which is crucial because some strains of malaria can lie dormant in the liver for several years before flaring up.

Record keeping helps bacteria’s immune system fight invaders

February 4, 2015 10:01 am | by SLAC Office of Communications | News | Comments

Bacteria have a sophisticated means of defending themselves, and they need it: more viruses infect bacteria than any other biological entity. Two experiments undertaken at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory provide new insight at the heart of bacterial adaptive defenses in a system called CRISPR, short for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat.

Pfizer breast cancer drug gets early FDA approval

February 3, 2015 6:18 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Federal health regulators on Tuesday approved a highly anticipated medicine from Pfizer Inc. to treat postmenopausal women with a certain type of advanced breast cancer who have not already taken other drugs. The Food and Drug Administration approved Ibrance for women who have tumors that do not contain a protein known as HER-2. Ibrance, known generically as palbociclib, works by blocking molecules linked to cancer cell growth.

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