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What can 14th century Venice teach us about Ebola, other emerging threats?

What can 14th century Venice teach us about Ebola, other emerging threats?

The way in which the Italian city of Venice dealt with the outbreak of the plague in the fourteenth century holds lessons on how to even mitigate the consequences of today’s emerging threats, like climate change, terrorism and highly infectious or drug-resistant diseases. So says Dr. Igor Linkov of the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, and a visiting professor of the Ca Foscari University in Italy Continue reading

Challenges ahead in improving child health by increasing access to sanitation in India

Challenges ahead in improving child health by increasing access to sanitation in India

A study published in this week’s PLOS Medicine on large-scale rural sanitation programs in India highlights challenges in achieving sufficient access to latrines and reduction in open defecation to yield significant health benefits for young children. The researchers, led by Sumeet Patil from the School of Public Health, University of California at Berkeley, and the Network for Engineering and Economics Research and Management in Mumbai, India conducted a cluster randomised controlled trial in 80 rural villages in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh to measure the effect of India’s Total Sanitation campaign (an initiative to increase access to improved sanitation throughout rural India) on household latrine availability, defecation behaviors, and child health Continue reading

100 recent fetal surgeries for spina bifida performed at one American hospital

100 recent fetal surgeries for spina bifida performed at one American hospital

Reporting on 100 recent cases of fetal surgery for spina bifida, specialists at a premier fetal surgery program achieved results similar to those published three years previously in a landmark clinical trial that established a new standard of care for prenatal repair of this birth defect. Specialists from the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) published their findings online August 15 in Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy . The single-center results comprised the largest series reported since 2011 when the National Institutes of Health-sponsored Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS) published its results in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) Continue reading

New statin guidelines an improvement, study shows

New statin guidelines an improvement, study shows

New national guidelines can improve the way statin drugs are prescribed to patients at risk for cardiovascular disease, a Yale University study has found. The research, published Aug. 25 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology , also showed the new guidelines produce only a modest increase in the number of patients being given the drugs Continue reading

Cancer-fighting drugs might also stop malaria early

Cancer-fighting drugs might also stop malaria early

Scientists searching for new drugs to fight malaria have identified a number of compounds — some of which are currently in clinical trials to treat cancer — that could add to the anti-malarial arsenal. Duke University assistant professor Emily Derbyshire and colleagues identified more than 30 enzyme-blocking molecules, called protein kinase inhibitors, that curb malaria before symptoms start Continue reading

Protein’s ability to inhibit HIV release discovered

Protein’s ability to inhibit HIV release discovered

A family of proteins that promotes virus entry into cells also has the ability to block the release of HIV and other viruses, University of Missouri researchers have found. “This is a surprising finding that provides new insights into our understanding of not only HIV infection, but also that of Ebola and other viruses,” said Shan-Lu Liu, MD, PhD, associate professor in the MU School of Medicine’s Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. The study was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Continue reading

Ovarian Cancer: Know your body, know your risk

Ovarian Cancer: Know your body, know your risk

Ovarian cancer is the fourth leading cause of death in American women, with about 22,000 diagnosed and 14,000 dying from the disease each year. Continue reading

Finding keys to glioblastoma therapeutic resistance

Finding keys to glioblastoma therapeutic resistance

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have found one of the keys to why certain glioblastomas — the primary form of a deadly brain cancer — are resistant to drug therapy. The answer lies not in the DNA sequence of the tumor, but in its epigenetic signature Continue reading

Bioengineers close to brewing opioid painkillers without using opium from poppies

Bioengineers close to brewing opioid painkillers without using opium from poppies

For centuries poppy plants have been grown to provide opium, the compound from which morphine and other important medicines such as oxycodone are derived. Now bioengineers at Stanford have hacked the DNA of yeast, reprograming these simple cells to make opioid-based medicines via a sophisticated extension of the basic brewing process that makes beer. Led by Associate Professor of Bioengineering Christina Smolke, the Stanford team has already spent a decade genetically engineering yeast cells to reproduce the biochemistry of poppies with the ultimate goal of producing opium-based medicines, from start to finish, in fermentation vats Continue reading

Repurposing anti-depressant medication to target medulloblastoma

Repurposing anti-depressant medication to target medulloblastoma

An international research team reports in Nature Medicine a novel molecular pathway that causes an aggressive form of medulloblastoma, and suggests repurposing an anti-depressant medication to target the new pathway may help combat one of the most common brain cancers in children. Continue reading