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Efficacy of new gene therapy approach for toxin exposures shown in mouse study

Efficacy of new gene therapy approach for toxin exposures shown in mouse study

The current method to treat acute toxin poisoning is to inject antibodies, commonly produced in animals, to neutralize the toxin. But this method has challenges ranging from safety to difficulties in developing, producing and maintaining the anti-serums in large quantities. New research led by Charles Shoemaker, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Infectious Disease and Global Health at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, shows that gene therapy may offer significant advantages in prevention and treatment of botulism exposure over current methods. Continue reading

Vaccine for Ebola? Experts answer questions

Vaccine for Ebola? Experts answer questions

Vermont Medicine: What is Ebola virus and where are Ebola infections most commonly seen? Continue reading

Genomic sequencing reveals mutations, insights into 2014 Ebola outbreak

Genomic sequencing reveals mutations, insights into 2014 Ebola outbreak

In response to an ongoing, unprecedented outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa, a team of researchers from the Broad Institute and Harvard University, in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation and researchers across institutions and continents, has rapidly sequenced and analyzed more than 99 Ebola virus genomes. Their findings could have important implications for rapid field diagnostic tests. The team reports its results online in the journal Science . Continue reading

Malaria symptoms fade on repeat infections due to loss of immune cells

Malaria symptoms fade on repeat infections due to loss of immune cells

Children who repeatedly become infected with malaria often experience no clinical symptoms with these subsequent infections, and a team led by UC San Francisco researchers has discovered that this might be due at least in part to a depletion of specific types of immune cells. Working in Uganda, one of the most malaria-plagued nations in Africa and one in which individuals are repeatedly exposed to the malaria parasite, UCSF scientists found that a depletion of immune cells known as gamma delta T cells diminishes inflammatory responses in infected children — responses that when unabated can become debilitating or deadly. “These inflammatory immune cells are depleted in children with repeated malaria exposure, and those that remain behave differently than the same cell types in children who have not previously been infected,” said Prasanna Jagannathan, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at UCSF, who conducted the lab analysis as part of a study team led by Margaret Feeney, MD, a UCSF professor of experimental medicine and pediatrics. Continue reading

The marmoset animal model recapitulates disease symptoms of MERS infection in humans

The marmoset animal model recapitulates disease symptoms of MERS infection in humans

An article published on August 21st in PLOS Pathogens reports the first animal model that recapitulates the severe and sometimes lethal respiratory symptoms seen in human patients and suggests that the common marmoset will play an important role in the development effective countermeasures against Middle East respiratory syndrome corona virus. Recent studies had identified how the MERS-CoV recognizes and invades human cells: its spike protein binds to DPP4, a protein on the surface of human cells, and this leads to internalization of the virus which then takes over the human cell and turns it into a virus factory. Continue reading

Seals and sea lions likely spread tuberculosis to humans

Seals and sea lions likely spread tuberculosis to humans

Tuberculosis is one of the most persistent and deadliest infectious diseases in the world, killing one to two million people each year. Scientists who study tuberculosis have long debated its origins Continue reading

Ebola outbreak highlights global disparities in health-care resources

Ebola outbreak highlights global disparities in health-care resources

The outbreak of Ebola virus disease that has claimed more than 1,000 lives in West Africa this year poses a serious, ongoing threat to that region: the spread to capital cities and Nigeria — Africa’s most populous nation — presents new challenges for healthcare professionals. The situation has garnered significant attention and fear around the world, but proven public health measures and sharpened clinical vigilance will contain the epidemic and thwart a global spread, according to a new commentary by Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. Continue reading

Long antibiotic treatments: Slowly growing bacteria to blame

Long antibiotic treatments: Slowly growing bacteria to blame

Whether pneumonia or sepsis — infectious diseases are becoming increasingly difficult to treat. One reason for this is the growing antibiotic resistance. But even non-resistant bacteria can survive antibiotics for some time, and that’s why treatments need to be continued for several days or weeks Continue reading

Scientists boost potential of passive immunization against HIV

Scientists boost potential of passive immunization against HIV

Scientists are pursuing injections or intravenous infusions of broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies (bNAbs) as a strategy for preventing HIV infection. This technique, called passive immunization, has been shown to protect monkeys from a monkey form of HIV called simian human immunodeficiency virus, or SHIV. To make passive immunization a widely feasible HIV prevention option for people, scientists want to modify bNAbs such that a modest amount of them is needed only once every few months. Continue reading

Mouth bacteria can change its diet, supercomputers reveal

Mouth bacteria can change its diet, supercomputers reveal

Bacteria inside your mouth drastically change how they act when you’re diseased, according to research using supercomputers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). Scientists say these surprising findings might lead to better ways to prevent or even reverse the gum disease periodontitis, diabetes, and Crohn’s disease. Marvin Whiteley, professor of molecular biosciences and director of the Center for Infectious Disease at The University of Texas at Austin, led the study published in April 2014 in the journal mBio . Continue reading