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The Lead

A new way to prevent the spread of devastating diseases

September 19, 2014 8:01 am | by Kimm Fesenmaier, Caltech | Videos | Comments

For decades, researchers have tried to develop broadly effective vaccines to prevent the spread of illnesses such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis. While limited progress has been made along these lines, there are still no licensed vaccinations available that can protect most people from these devastating diseases. So what are immunologists to do when vaccines just aren't working?

Is the U.S. doing enough to fight Ebola?

September 16, 2014 11:46 am | by Lauran Neergaard, The Associated Press | News | Comments

The American strategy on Ebola is two-pronged: step up desperately needed aid to West Africa and...

Taking a Big Bite Out of Malaria

September 15, 2014 9:49 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Articles | Comments

Malaria threatens more than 40% of the world’s population and kills up to 1.2 million people...

Researcher’s nanoparticle key to new malaria vaccine

September 4, 2014 11:26 am | by Colin Poitras, UConn | News | Comments

A self-assembling nanoparticle designed by a Univ. of Connecticut (UConn) professor is the key...

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U.S. to begin safety testing Ebola vaccine next week

August 28, 2014 9:25 am | by Seth Borenstein - AP Science Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Federal researchers next week will start testing humans with an experimental vaccine to prevent the deadly Ebola virus. The National Institutes of Health announced Thursday that it is launching the safety trial on a vaccine developed by the agency's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and GlaxoSmithKline.

Saving Childrens’ Lives

August 21, 2014 4:18 pm | Award Winners

Globally, 22 million infants aren’t receiving basic vaccines and 1.5 million children will die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases before they reach age five. This challenge is further complicated by the fact that most vaccines must be refrigerated, and more than a billion people globally don’t have reliable access to electricity. Vaccination rates are lowest in remote and rural locations. As part of Intellectual Ventures’ Global Good program, Intellectual Venture Labs (IVL) approached Stratos Product Development for help in developing an insulated container to strengthen and extend vaccination services in developing countries.

Study: Combining vaccines boosts polio immunity

August 21, 2014 3:25 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

New research suggests a one-two punch could help battle polio in some of the world's most remote and strife-torn regions: Giving a single vaccine shot to children who've already swallowed drops of an oral polio vaccine greatly boosted their immunity. The World Health Organization officials said the combination strategy already is starting to be used in mass vaccination campaigns in some hard-hit areas.

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Scientists racing to test Ebola vaccines in humans

August 14, 2014 6:22 pm | by Matthew Perrone - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Scientists are racing to begin the first human safety tests of two experimental Ebola vaccines, but it won't be easy to prove that the shots and other potential treatments in the pipeline really work. There are no proven drugs or vaccines for Ebola, a disease so rare that it's been hard to attract investments in countermeasures. But the current outbreak in West Africa is fueling new efforts to speed Ebola vaccine and drug development.

Panel urges second pneumonia shot for older adults

August 13, 2014 5:20 pm | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A federal panel says older Americans should start getting a new vaccine against bacteria that cause pneumonia. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted Wednesday to recommend a dose of the expensive new shot for people 65 and older. The panel said older adults should still get an older pneumococcal vaccine, too.

Ethical issue: Who gets experimental Ebola drug?

August 6, 2014 5:25 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The use of an experimental drug to treat two Americans diagnosed with Ebola is raising ethical questions about who gets first access to unproven new therapies for the deadly disease. But some health experts fear debate over extremely limited doses will distract from tried-and-true measures to curb the growing outbreak.

Novel virus discovered in half the world’s population

July 25, 2014 7:14 am | by Michael Price, San Diego State Univ. | Videos | Comments

Virologists and biologists in California have identified a highly abundant, never-before-described virus that could play a major role in obesity, diabetes. The virus, named crAssphage, has about 10 times as many base pairs of DNA as HIV and infects one of the most common types of gut bacteria. This phylum of bacteria is thought to be connected with obesity, diabetes and other gut-related diseases.

Researchers create vaccine for dust-mite allergies

July 23, 2014 8:32 am | by Richard C. Lewis, Univ. of Iowa | News | Comments

If you’re allergic to dust mites, help may be on the way. Researchers at the Univ. of Iowa have developed a vaccine that can combat dust-mite allergies by naturally switching the body’s immune response. In animal tests, the nano-sized vaccine package lowered lung inflammation by 83% despite repeated exposure to the allergens.

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Trial: Dengue shot offers some protection

July 11, 2014 7:21 am | by Maria Cheng - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The most advanced vaccine for dengue only offers modest protection but could still help millions of people avoid the devastating effects of the disease known as "breakbone fever," according to a large trial. There's no treatment for dengue, which causes symptoms including fever, joint pain, headaches and bleeding. About half the world's population is at risk from the mosquito-borne disease, which sickens about 100 million people every year.

New approach for tuberculosis drugs

July 2, 2014 3:13 pm | by Angelika Jacobs, ETH Zurich | News | Comments

In the past 50 years, only one new tuberculosis drug has come on to the market, yet many more active substances are urgently needed. Current treatments increasingly fail due to multidrug-resistant pathogens. Researchers in Switzerland have now applied to patent a novel approach for developing new tuberculosis drugs. Their inspiration: a bacteria-derived antibiotic called pyridomycin.

Panel: Flu spray better than shots for young kids

June 25, 2014 3:23 pm | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

When it comes to flu vaccines, a federal panel says a squirt in the nose is better than a shot in the arm for young children. The advisory panel agreed Wednesday to tell doctors that FluMist nasal spray is a bit better at preventing flu in healthy young kids. The advice is specific to children ages 2 through 8.

Researcher charged in major HIV vaccine fraud case

June 24, 2014 5:22 pm | by Ryan J. Foley - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Responding to a major case of research misconduct, federal prosecutors are taking a rare step by charging a scientist with fraud after he admitted falsifying data while researching an HIV vaccine. Authorities say former Iowa State Univ. laboratory manager Dong-Pyou Han has confessed to manipulating data that helped his team get millions in grants and increased hopes of a major breakthrough in AIDS research.

A key step toward a safer strep vaccine

June 12, 2014 8:17 am | News | Comments

An international team of scientists, led by researchers at the Univ. of California, San Diego School of Medicine, have identified the genes encoding a molecule that famously defines Group A Streptococcus (strep), a pathogenic bacterial species responsible for more than 700 million infections worldwide each year.

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HIV can cut and paste in the human genome

May 28, 2014 8:31 am | by Kirsten Olesen, Aarhus University | News | Comments

A new technology developed in Denmark uses the HIV virus as a tool in the fight against hereditary diseases and, in the long term, against HIV infection as well. The technology repairs the genome in a new and safer manner by using the virus as nanoparticles to manage the “cut and paste” approach to modifying the genome.

CDC confirms first case of MERS virus in American

May 2, 2014 4:25 pm | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Health officials on Friday confirmed the first case of an American infected with a mysterious Middle East virus. The man fell ill after arriving in the U.S. about a week ago from Saudi Arabia where he is a health care worker. The man is hospitalized in Indiana with Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is investigating the case along with Indiana health officials.

Scientists figure out staying power of HIV-fighting enzyme

May 2, 2014 11:24 am | News | Comments

Johns Hopkins Univ. biochemists have figured out what is needed to activate and sustain the virus-fighting activity of an enzyme found in CD4+ T cells, the human immune cells infected by HIV. The discovery could launch a more effective strategy for preventing the spread of HIV in the body with drugs targeting this enzyme, they say.

Nanocrystalline cellulose modified into an efficient viral inhibitor

April 15, 2014 11:38 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Finland have succeeded in creating a surface on nano-sized cellulose crystals that imitates a biological structure. The surface adsorbs viruses and disables them, preventing their spread into cells. The results could prove useful in the development of antiviral ointments and surfaces.

Fighting cancer with lasers and nanoballoons that pop

April 3, 2014 9:11 am | by University at Buffalo | News | Comments

Chemotherapeutic drugs excel at fighting cancer, but they're not so efficient at getting where they need to go. Now, researchers are developing a better delivery method by encapsulating the drugs in nanoballoons – which are tiny modified liposomes that, upon being struck by a red laser, pop open and deliver concentrated doses of medicine.

Phage “cocktail” wipes out 99% of E. coli in meat, spinach

April 1, 2014 3:24 pm | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Bacteriophages are viruses that target and kill bacteria. Recent research at Purdue Univ. shows that treating food products with select bacteriophages could significantly reduce concentrations of E. coli. The study demonstrated that an injection of bacteriophages nearly eradicated a toxin-producing strain of E. coli in contaminated spinach and ground beef, in some cases decreasing E. coli concentrations by about 99%.

Nano-paper filter can remove viruses

March 31, 2014 12:49 pm | by Linda Koffmar, Uppsala Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers in Sweden have designed a paper filter which is capable of removing virus particles with the efficiency matching that of the best industrial virus filters. The paper filter, which is manufactured according to traditional paper making processes, consists of 100% high purity cellulose nanofibers directly derived from nature.

Past HIV vaccine trials reveal new path to success

March 20, 2014 8:05 am | News | Comments

A multinational research team led by Duke Medicine scientists has identified a subclass of antibodies associated with an effective immune response to an HIV vaccine. The finding helps explain why a combination of two vaccines was able to show some effect, when one vaccine alone did not. The study also provides key insights that could aid development of new vaccines.

Study: Pfizer vaccine cuts pneumonia in elderly

March 12, 2014 6:22 pm | by Linda A. Johnson - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Pfizer Inc. said Wednesday that its blockbuster vaccine against pneumonia, blood and other infections met its goal of preventing illness in vulnerable elderly patients in a huge study required by U.S. regulators. The New York-based company's Prevnar 13 protects against 13 strains of pneumococcal disease, which can cause painful children's ear infections, pneumonia and life-threatening bloodstream infections.

Self-administration of flu vaccine with a patch may be feasible

February 26, 2014 2:17 pm | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

The annual ritual of visiting a doctor’s office or health clinic to receive a flu shot may soon be outdated, thanks to the findings of a new study. The research, which involved nearly 100 people recruited in the metropolitan Atlanta area, found that test subjects could successfully apply a prototype vaccine patch to themselves.

Polio-like disease appears in California children

February 25, 2014 2:09 am | by Martha Mendoza - AP National Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

An extremely rare, polio-like disease has appeared in more than a dozen California children within the past year and paralyzed one or more of each child's arms or legs, Stanford Univ. researchers say, but public health officials haven't identified any common causes connecting the cases.

Flu season waning; younger adults hit hardest

February 20, 2014 2:09 pm | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

As the flu season winds down, health officials say it wasn't as bad as last year and the vaccine worked better. But younger adults were hit harder because of a surge of swine flu. Overall, hospitalization rates for the flu are only about half what they were last winter. It has been a fairly mild season for the elderly—usually the most vulnerable group to flu and its complications.

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