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For an immune cell, microgravity mimics aging

For an immune cell, microgravity mimics aging

Telling someone to “act your age” is another way of asking him or her to behave better. Age, however, does not always bring improvements. Certain cells of the immune system tend to misbehave with age, leaving the elderly more vulnerable to illness Continue reading

Applying math to biology: Software identifies disease-causing mutations in undiagnosed illnesses

Applying math to biology: Software identifies disease-causing mutations in undiagnosed illnesses

A computational tool developed at the University of Utah (U of U) has successfully identified diseases with unknown gene mutations in three separate cases, U of U researchers and their colleagues report in a new study in The American Journal of Human Genetics . The software, Phevor (Phenotype Driven Variant Ontological Re-ranking tool), identifies undiagnosed illnesses and unknown gene mutations by analyzing the exomes, or areas of DNA where proteins that code for genes are made, in individual patients and small families. Sequencing the genomes of individuals or small families often produces false predictions of mutations that cause diseases. Continue reading

Researchers identify a new variant of Ebola virus in Guinea

Researchers identify a new variant of Ebola virus in Guinea

In an article which appeared in The New England journal of Medicine on 16 April, researchers from Inserm (Jean Mérieux-Inserm BSL-4 Laboratory, Lyon) and the Institut Pasteur have published their initial findings on the characteristics of the Ebola virus discovered in Guinea. Initial virological investigations enabled them to identify Zaire ebolavirus as the pathogen responsible for this epidemic. Performed in less than a month, sequencing of the complete genome and subsequent phylogenetic analysis show that the virus present in Guinea forms a clade (variant) that is distinct from strains previously identified in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Gabon. Continue reading

Ginseng can treat, prevent influenza, RSV, researcher finds

Ginseng can treat, prevent influenza, RSV, researcher finds

Ginseng can help treat and prevent influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages, according to research findings by a scientist in Georgia State University’s new Institute for Biomedical Sciences. In a recent issue of Nutrients and an upcoming publication of the International Journal of Molecular Medicine, Sang-Moo Kang reports the beneficial effects of ginseng, a well-known herbal medicine, on human health. Kang’s primary research focuses on designing and developing effective vaccines against viral diseases such as influenza virus and RSV, but he partnered with a university and research institutes in South Korea that wanted international collaborative projects to study if ginseng can be used to improve health and protect against disease because of the potential benefit in fighting these viruses Continue reading

A protein required for integrity of induced pluripotent stem cells

A protein required for integrity of induced pluripotent stem cells

Cell reprogramming converts specialised cells such as nerve cells or skin cells towards an embryonic stem cell state. This reversal in the evolutionary development of cells also requires a reversal in the biology of telomeres, the structures that protect the ends of chromosomes; whilst under normal conditions telomeres shorten over time, during cell reprogramming they follow the opposite strategy and increase in length. A study published today in the journal Stem Cell Reports , from the Cell Publishing Group, reveals that the SIRT1 protein is needed to lengthen and maintain telomeres during cell reprogramming Continue reading

Malaria pathogen’s cellular skeleton under super-microscope

Malaria pathogen’s cellular skeleton under super-microscope

The tropical disease malaria is caused by the Plasmodium parasite. For its survival and propagation, Plasmodium requires a protein called actin. Scientists of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Germany used high-resolution structural biology methods to investigate the different versions of this protein in the parasite in high detail Continue reading

Novel stapled peptide nanoparticle combination prevents RSV infection, study finds

Novel stapled peptide nanoparticle combination prevents RSV infection, study finds

New therapies are needed to prevent and treat respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) — a potentially lethal respiratory infection that can severely affect infants, young children and the elderly. Despite a wide range of anti-RSV efforts, there are no vaccines or drugs on the market to effectively prevent or treat the infection. Now researchers at the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, and the James A. Continue reading

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus neoformans — a fungus responsible for a million cases of pneumonia and meningitis every year — are so malleable and dangerous Continue reading

Some immune cells defend only one organ

Some immune cells defend only one organ

Scientists have uncovered a new way the immune system may fight cancers and viral infections. The finding could aid efforts to use immune cells to treat illness. Continue reading

Radiation therapy for cervical cancer increases risk for colorectal cancer

Radiation therapy for cervical cancer increases risk for colorectal cancer

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston are the first to recommend that young women treated with radiation for cervical cancer should begin colorectal cancer screening earlier than traditionally recommended. The UTMB researchers, finding a high incidence of secondary colorectal cancers among cervical cancer survivors treated with radiation, offer new recommendations that the younger women in this group begin colorectal cancer screening about eight years after their initial cervical cancer diagnosis instead of waiting until age 50 Continue reading