Health & Medicine

Category: Health & Medicine

Researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard-affiliated hospitals have uncovered an easily detectable, "pre-malignant" state in the blood that significantly increases the likelihood that an individual will go on to develop blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, or myelodysplastic syndrome. The discovery, which was made independently by two research teams affiliated with the Broad and partner institutions, opens new avenues for research aimed at early detection and prevention of blood cancer. Findings from both teams appear this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Melbourne researchers have identified why some people with coeliac disease show an immune response after eating oats.

Organs can become significantly damaged during transplantation, but a new article published in the BJS (British Journal of Surgery) offers a protective strategy that could keep them safe and allow them to function optimally after the procedure.

Chronic myeloid leukemia develops when a gene mutates and causes an enzyme to become hyperactive, causing blood-forming stem cells in the bone marrow to grow rapidly into abnormal cells. The enzyme, Abl-kinase, is a member of the "kinase" family of enzymes, which serve as an "on" or "off" switch for many functions in our cells. In chronic myeloid leukemia, the hyperactive Abl-kinase is targeted with drugs that bind to a specific part of the enzyme and block it, aiming to ultimately kill the fast-growing cancer cell. However, treatments are often limited by the fact that the cancer cells can adapt to resist drugs. EPFL scientists have identified an alternative part of Abl-kinase on which drugs can bind and act with a reduced risk of drug resistance. Their work is published in Nature Communications.

Scientists have demonstrated for the first time that a single-dose, needleless Ebola vaccine given to primates through their noses and lungs protected them against infection for at least 21 weeks. A vaccine that doesn't require an injection could help prevent passing along infections through unintentional pricks. They report the results of their study on macaques in the ACS journal Molecular Pharmaceutics.

Although gluten-free foods are trendy among the health-conscious, they are necessary for those with celiac disease. But gluten, the primary trigger for health problems in these patients, may not be the only culprit. Scientists are reporting in ACS' Journal of Proteome Research that people with the disease also have reactions to non-gluten wheat proteins. The results could help scientists better understand how the disease works and could have implications for how to treat it.

Fatih Uckun, Jianjun Cheng and their colleagues have taken the first steps towards developing a so-called "smart bomb" to attack the most common and deadly form of childhood cancer — called B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

Some MRSA bugs in UK hospitals can be traced back to a type of bacteria found in farm animals, a study suggests.


A recent study at the University of Gothenburg sheds light on the mystery of the biological clock that governs fertility.
Researchers at the University of Gothenburg have identified the biological clock that governs female fertility. The discovery represents a major contribution to research aimed at finding medical approaches to treating infertility in women.

Glioma is a common name for serious brain tumours. Different types of glioma are usually diagnosed as separate diseases and have been considered to arise from different cell types in the brain. Now researchers at Uppsala University, together with American colleagues, have shown that one and the same cell of origin can give rise to different types of glioma. This is important for the basic understanding of how these tumours are formed and can contribute to the development of more efficient and specific glioma therapies. The results have been published in Journal of Neuroscience.

Scientists in Cambridge have found hidden signatures in the brains of people in a vegetative state, which point to networks that could support consciousness even when a patient appears to be unconscious and unresponsive. The study could help doctors identify patients who are aware despite being unable to communicate.

As medical personnel and public health officials are responding to the first reported cases of Ebola Virus in the United States, many of the safety and treatment procedures for treating the virus and preventing its spread are being reexamined. One of the tenets for minimizing the risk of spreading the disease has been a 21-day quarantine period for individuals who might have been exposed to the virus. But a new study by Charles Haas, PhD, a professor in Drexel's College of Engineering, suggests that 21 days might not be enough to completely prevent spread of the virus.

The discovery of a "maternal age effect" by a team of Penn State scientists that could be used to predict the accumulation of mitochondrial DNA mutations in maternal egg cells -- and the transmission of these mutations to children -- could provide valuable insights for genetic counseling. These mutations cause more than 200 diseases and contribute to others such as diabetes, cancer, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease. The study found greater rates of the mitochondrial DNA variants in children born to older mothers, as well as in the mothers themselves. The research will be published in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on October 13, 2014,

A noninvasive method of delivering a promising therapy for persistent Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infection appears to be as effective as treatment via colonoscopy or through a nasogastric tube. In their JAMA report, receiving early online release to coincide with a presentation at the Infectious Diseases Society of America's ID Week conference, investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) report that oral administration of the therapy called fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) in acid-resistant capsules was as successful as more invasive methods in eliminating recurrent diarrhea caused by C. difficile.

Physician scientists at 22 consortia will collaborate with representatives of 98 patient advocacy groups to advance clinical research and investigate new treatments for patients with rare diseases. The collaborations are made possible through awards by the National Institutes of Health — totaling about $29 million in fiscal year 2014 funding — to expand the Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network (RDCRN), which is led by NIH's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).

Researchers say there should be an international database containing the very latest information about organ donations and transplants, so policy makers can make informed decisions on whether to adopt an opt-out or opt-in system.

New research published today in the online journal PLoS Outbreaks predicts new Ebola cases could reach 6,800 in West Africa by the end of the month if new control measures are not enacted.

A leading Dartmouth researcher, working with The Melanoma Genetics Consortium, GenoMEL, an international research consortium, co-authored a paper published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that proves longer telomeres increase the risk of melanoma.


This image depicts gut microbiota.
Artificial sweeteners, promoted as aids to weight loss and diabetes prevention, could actually hasten the development of glucose intolerance and metabolic disease; and they do it in a surprising way: by changing the composition and function of the gut microbiota – the substantial population of bacteria residing in our intestines. These findings, the results of experiments in mice and humans, were published today in Nature. Among other things, says Dr. Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute's Immunology Department, who led this research together with Prof. Eran Segal of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics Department, the widespread use of artificial sweeteners in drinks and food may be contributing to the obesity and diabetes epidemic that is sweeping much of the world.

Raw honey has been used against infections for millennia, before honey - as we now know it - was manufactured and sold in stores. So what is the key to its' antimicrobial properties? Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have identified a unique group of 13 lactic acid bacteria found in fresh honey, from the honey stomach of bees. The bacteria produce a myriad of active antimicrobial compounds.

A candidate Ebola vaccine could be given to healthy volunteers in the UK, The Gambia and Mali as early as September, as part of an series of safety trials of potential vaccines aimed at preventing the disease that has killed more than 1,400 people in the current outbreak in West Africa.

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.

University of Adelaide researchers have discovered that the immune system is defective in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, which is a major reason why sufferers have ongoing issues with pain.

Handwashing with antibacterial soap exposes hospital workers to significant and potentially unsafe levels of triclosan, a widely-used chemical currently under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to a study led by researchers from UC San Francisco.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has brought a lot of attention to the deadly virus. According to the World Health Organization, up to 90% of those infected with Ebola die from the virus. Now, researchers publishing August 13 in the Cell Press journal Cell Host & Microbe reveal how Ebola blocks and disables the body's natural immune response. Understanding how Ebola disarms immune defenses will be crucial in the development of new treatments for the disease.

Researchers with The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network have completed the largest, most diverse tumor genetic analysis ever conducted, revealing a new approach to classifying cancers. The work, led by researchers at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and other TCGA sites, not only revamps traditional ideas of how cancers are diagnosed and treated, but could also have a profound impact on the future landscape of drug development.

Anesthesia providers are missing opportunities to clean their hands during surgical procedures, according to a study published in the July issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, the official publication of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a complicated multifactorial autoimmune disease influenced by many genetic and environmental factors. The hallmark of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the presence of high levels of anti-double-stranded DNA autoantibody (anti-dsDNA) in sera. In addition, greater infection rates are found in SLE patients and higher morbidity and mortality usually come from bacterial infections. Deciphering interactions between the susceptibility genes and the environmental factors for lupus complex traits is challenging and has resulted in only limited success.

New genomic research led by UC San Francisco (UCSF) scientists reveals that two common gene variants that lead to longer telomeres, the caps on chromosome ends thought by many scientists to confer health by protecting cells from aging, also significantly increase the risk of developing the deadly brain cancers known as gliomas.

A multi-institutional team of researchers has pinpointed exactly what goes wrong when chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients develop resistance to ibrutinib, a highly effective, precisely targeted anti-cancer drug. In a correspondence published online May 28 in the New England Journal of Medicine, they show how the mutation triggers resistance. Their finding could guide development of new agents to treat drug-resistant disease.

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