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Category: Health & Medicine


Updates to the zoonotic niche map of Ebola virus disease in Africa by David Pigott et al.
Though the West African Ebola outbreak that began in 2013 is now under control, 23 countries remain environmentally suitable for animal-to-human transmission of the Ebola virus. Only seven of these countries have experienced cases of Ebola, leaving the remaining 16 countries potentially unaware of regions of suitability, and therefore underprepared for future outbreaks.

The microscopic organisms that live in our gut do more than help us digest food. A new study in rats bolsters a growing body of evidence that the complex mix of microorganisms found in the gut, known as gut microbiota, could influence a person's likelihood of developing colon cancer.

When cells die, whether through apoptosis or necrosis, the DNA and other molecules found in those cells don't just disappear. They wind up in the blood stream, where degraded bits and pieces can be extracted.


The green-labelled cells show a basal cell carcinoma in mouse tail epidermis derived from a single mutant stem cell and expanding out of the normal epidermis stained in red.
Scientists have identified for the first time the 'cell of origin' - in other words, the first cell from which the cancer grows - in basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer, and followed the chain of events that lead to the growth of these invasive tumours.

Since the 1970s, U.S. doctors have prescribed lithium to treat patients with bipolar disorder. While the drug has a good success rate, scientists are still unsure exactly how it achieves its beneficial effects.

Precise predictions of whether a tumor is likely to spread would help clinicians and patients choose the best course of treatment. But current methods fall short of the precision needed. New research reveals that profiling primary tumor samples using genomic technologies can improve the accuracy of breast cancer survival predictions compared to clinical information alone. The study was published in the journal GENETICS, a publication of the Genetics Society of America.


In kataegis, multiple mutations cluster in a few hotspots in a cancer genome. Here, cytosine (C) bases are commonly substituted with thymine (T) in the DNA strand.
Kataegis is a recently discovered phenomenon in which multiple mutations cluster in a few hotspots in a genome. The anomaly was previously found in some cancers, but it has been unclear what role kataegis plays in tumor development and patient outcomes. Using a database of human tumor genomic data, researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center have discovered that kataegis is actually a positive marker in breast cancer -- patients with these mutation hotspots have less invasive tumors and better prognoses.

Oral multikinase inhibitor regorafenib achieves significantly improved survival rates compared to placebo in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, according to data from the phase III RESORCE trial (1), presented at the ESMO 18th World Congress of Gastrointestinal Cancer in Barcelona, Spain.

Physicians have been mystified by chronic fatigue syndrome, a condition where normal exertion leads to debilitating fatigue that isn't alleviated by rest. There are no known triggers, and diagnosis requires lengthy tests administered by an expert.

When we smoke cigarettes, dozens of genes important for immune defense are altered in the epithelial cells that line the respiratory tract. Several of these changes likely increase the risk of bacterial infections, viruses, and inflammation. Now, UNC School of Medicine scientists report that vaping electronic cigarettes alters those same genes and hundreds more that are important for immune defense in the upper airway.

The incidence of Parkinson's disease and parkinsonism increased significantly in 30 years from 1976 to 2005, Mayo Clinic researchers reported today in a study in JAMA Neurology. This trend was noted in particular for men age 70 and older. According to the researchers, this is the first study to suggest such an increasing trend.


A piece of art created by a study participant using both markers and modeling clay.
Whether you're Van Gogh or a stick-figure sketcher, a new Drexel University study found that making art can significantly reduce stress-related hormones in your body.

In late 2015, former President Jimmy Carter announced that he was free of the metastatic melanoma that had spread to his liver and brain. In addition to surgery and radiation, Carter was treated with an immunotherapy drug, a new approach in cancer treatment that has a promising outlook.


Hospital in Mbeya, Tanzania.
The first days after HIV infection are very important because sexual partners are exposed to extremely high risks of infection due to the subsequent high viral load in the infected person. Additionally, this period of time determines the further course of HIV infection. DZIF scientists from the Department of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine at the Medical Center of the University of Mu-nich (LMU) and DZIF African partner institutions in Tanzania participated in a pro-spective, multinational study which investigated virological and immunological changes due to HIV - prior to the onset of clinical symptoms and commercial HIV testing windows.


Dr. Douglas Antczak with Cayenne, who is not afflicted with sarcoid tumors.
Sarcoid skin tumors are the most common form of cancer in horses, but little is known about why the papillomavirus behind them strikes some horses and not others. A new study by an international research group led by scientists at the Baker Institute for Animal Health at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine shows genetic differences in immune function between horses partly accounts for these differences. The study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, mirrors findings in humans, as some people have a genetic susceptibility to human papillomavirus, which can cause cervical and other cancers.


Chronic myeloid leukemia blood cells.
Cancer stem cells are like zombies -- even after a tumor is destroyed, they can keep coming back. These cells have an unlimited capacity to regenerate themselves, making more cancer stem cells and more tumors. Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have now unraveled how pre-leukemic white blood cell precursors become leukemia stem cells. The study, published June 9 in Cell Stem Cell, used human cells to define the RNA editing enzyme ADAR1's role in leukemia, and find a way to stop it.


The cell images represent cancer cells where the cell nuclei are depicted in light blue and the fat droplets in red.
It has been established that not all cancer cells are equally aggressive - most can be neutralised with radiation and chemotherapy. Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have now discovered that some cancer cells can accumulate fat droplets, which appear to make them more aggressive and increase their ability to spread.

At any given moment, the human genome spells out thousands of genetic words telling our cells which proteins to make. Each word is read by a molecule known as a tRNA.

A benign virus normally found in the skin can lead to a type of rare, lethal skin cancer. Specifically, infection by the Merkel cell polyomavirus can lead to Merkel cell carcinoma in immune-compromised individuals. Researchers have now identified a type of skin cell as the target of the virus in humans. This study, from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, establishes a new way to investigate this type of oncogenic viral infection and identifies a potential therapeutic agent against Merkel cell polyomavirus infection.

Early exposure to nicotine can trigger widespread genetic changes that affect formation of connections between brain cells long after birth, a new Yale-led study has found. The finding helps explains why maternal smoking has been linked to behavioral changes such as attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, addiction and conduct disorder.

The National Myelodysplastic Syndromes Natural History Study (The National MDS Study) is underway, the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group and its collaborators announced today. This new study, funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and performed in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), will collect detailed information and biological samples from 2000 adults with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and 500 more patients receiving care for a persistent low red blood cell count (anemia) that cannot be explained. Its purpose is to build a national resource to be used by scientists in future research.

A change in diet can improve the lives of those diagnosed with a common, but hard-to-treat gut disorder.

Some of the final cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone were transmitted via unconventional routes, such as semen and breastmilk, according to the largest analysis to date of the tail-end of the epidemic.


In some cancers, including chondroblastoma and a rare form of childhood sarcoma, a mutation in histone H3 reduces global levels of methylation (dark areas) in tumor cells
A mutation that affects the proteins that package DNA--without changing the DNA itself--can cause a rare form of cancer, according to new findings in this week's Science from researchers at The Rockefeller University.


A cryo-electron microscopy image of the Zika virus structure.
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) have established the first models of Zika virus transmission from a pregnant mouse to her fetus. The infected mice, described May 11 in Cell, demonstrate Zika virus invasion and damage to the placenta, and then infection of the mouse fetus, leading to many of the same conditions observed in human infants. The new mouse models can also be used as a tool to develop treatments or vaccines.


This photo demonstrates the difference in size in Zika virus-infected vs. uninfected fetal mouse brains.
Mouse fetuses injected with the Asian Zika virus strain and carried to term within their pregnant mothers display the characteristic features of microcephaly, researchers in China report May 11 in Cell Stem Cell. As expected, the virus infected the neural progenitor cells, and infected brains reveal expression of genes related to viral entry, altered immune response, and cell death. The authors say this is direct evidence that Zika infection causes microcephaly in a mammalian animal model.


People abuse #Imodium as an opiate substitute. It is dangerous and potentially deadly. Annals of Emergency Medicine.
WASHINGTON --T he over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medication Imodium®, or its key ingredient loperamide, is increasingly being abused by people attempting to self-treat their opioid addiction, with sometime fatal results. Two case studies outlining the phenomenon were published online Friday in Annals of Emergency Medicine ("Loperamide Abuse Associated with Cardiac Dysrhythmia and Death").

Autism and cancer share more than 40 risk genes, suggesting that common mechanisms underlying the functions of some of these genes could conceivably be leveraged to develop therapies not just for cancer but for autism as well, an extensive assessment by researchers with the UC Davis MIND Institute and Comprehensive Cancer Center has found.


Optical microscopy showing ooscysts of Cryptosporidium sp (in red).
An outbreak of an intestinal parasite common in the tropics, known as Cryptosporidium, has been identified for the first time in the Arctic. The discovery was made in Nunavik, Quebec, by a team from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), in collaboration with the Nunavik Department of Public Health, Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec and Health Canada. The discovery, which was documented in the journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, could have long-term implications for the health of children in Nunavik and Nunavut's communities.


Researcher Juan Carlos Saiz from the Department of Biotechnology of the Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria in Madrid studying the Zika virus.
The constant emergence of viral outbreaks has become a permanent threat to human health. Last year, Zika virus infected thousands of people in the Americas. It is also associated to several cases of neurological disorders and has raised worldwide public health alerts. Now due to the urgency, researchers are detailing the characteristics of the virus to find solutions.

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