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November 18, 2010, 7:11 AM CT

Vitamin C: A life-saving treatment for sepsis?

Vitamin C: A life-saving treatment for sepsis?
Physicians caring for patients with sepsis may soon have a new safe and cost-effective therapy for this life-threatening illness. Research led by Dr. Karel Tyml and colleagues at The University of Western Ontario and Lawson Health Research Institute have observed that vitamin C can not only prevent the onset of sepsis, but can reverse the disease.

Sepsis is caused by a bacterial infection that can begin anywhere in your body. Your immune system goes into overdrive, overwhelming normal processes in your blood. The result is that small blood clots form, blocking blood flow to vital organs. This can lead to organ failure. Babies, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are most likely to get sepsis. But even healthy people can become deathly ill from the disease.

As per Dr. Tyml, a professor at Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, patients with severe sepsis have a high mortality rate, nearly 40 percent, because there is no effective therapy.

"There are a number of facets to sepsis, but the one we have focused on for the past 10 years is the plugging of capillaries," says Dr. Tyml. Plugged capillaries prevent oxygenation and the supply of life-supporting materials to your organ tissue and stop the removal of metabolic waste product. Plugged capillaries are seen in organs of septic patients. These organs may eventually fail, leading to multiple organ failure and death. Dr. Tyml's lab was the first to discover this plugging by using intravital microscopy, a technique Dr. Tyml pioneered in Canada.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


November 16, 2010, 6:51 AM CT

New low-cost method to deliver vaccine

New low-cost method to deliver vaccine
A health-care practitioner administers an intranasal vaccine.

Credit: Content provider: CDC/Dr. Bill Atkinson Photo credit: James Gathany

Scientists have developed a promising new approach to vaccination for rotavirus, a common cause of severe diarrheal disease that is responsible for approximately 500,000 deaths among children in the developing world every year. As per a research findings reported in the recent issue of Clinical and Vaccine Immunology, a vaccine delivered as nasal drops effectively induced an immune response in mice and protected them from rotavirus infection. The new vaccine delivery system has also been tested successfully and found to be heat stable with tetanus and is currently being tested with diphtheria and pertussis.

The team from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and Tufts University School of Medicine collaborated with scientists from Boston and Tulane Universities to test the effectiveness of immunization with harmless bacteria that were engineered to display rotavirus protein.

"The new vaccine, in conjunction with an agent that enhances immunity, induced sufficient antibody formation against rotavirus to protect mice against infection when the mice were exposed to rotavirus three weeks after their third immunization," explained John E. Herrmann, PhD, research professor in the infectious diseases division of the department of biomedical sciences at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and the senior author of the published study.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


November 3, 2010, 7:37 AM CT

Hepatitis C cure rate improves

Hepatitis C cure rate improves
For patients with the most common form of hepatitis C being treated for the first time, the addition of an investigational hepatitis Cspecific protease inhibitor called telaprevir to the current standard treatment markedly improved their sustained viral response (SVR or viral cure) rate.

The lead investigator reporting the results of the ADVANCE trial is Dr. Ira M. Jacobson, chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, and the Vincent Astor Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Jacobson presented these pivotal Phase III results today at the 61st Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases in Boston.

Dr. Jacobson noted that 75 percent of patients treated with a telaprevir-based combination regimen for 12 weeks, followed by 12 or 36 weeks of the standard treatment of pegylated-interferon alfa-2a and ribavirin alone, achieved a viral cure. This in comparison to 44 percent of people treated with 48 weeks of pegylated-interferon and ribavirin alone. In addition, new data from the study showed that 62 percent of African-Americans achieved a viral cure with the telaprevir-based regimen in comparison to 25 percent of African-Americans who were treated with pegylated-interferon and ribavirin alone. Additionally, 62 percent of patients with advanced liver fibrosis (cirrhosis or scarring of the liver) achieved a viral cure with the telaprevir regimen in comparison to 33 percent who were treated with pegylated-interferon and ribavirin alone.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


October 28, 2010, 7:15 AM CT

Deadly monkeypox virus

Deadly monkeypox virus
Monkeypox causes infectious pustules as seen in this four-year old Liberian infected with the virus.
Photo courtesy of CDC Public Health Image Library.

A newly released study of an exotic, infectious virus that has caused three recent outbreaks in the United States reveals clues to how the virus might damage lungs during infection. The findings also suggest possible new ways to treat lung diseases in humans.

Not only does the infection from monkeypox virus increase production of proteins involved in inflammation, but it decreases production of proteins that keep lung tissue intact and lubricated. The findings are published in an upcoming issue of Molecular & Cellular Proteomics.

"Going into this study, we thought monkeypox caused disease primarily by inducing inflammation in the lung, and that leads to pneumonia," said main author Joseph Brown, a systems biologist at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "We were surprised to see how badly the virus wrecked the structural integrity of the lungs".

The study was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Center for Research Resources, both part of the National Institutes of Health; the Department of Defense; and Battelle.

Collaborating with virologist Scott Wong, Ryan Estep and others at the Oregon Health & Science University's Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute in Beaverton, Ore., Brown and the PNNL team examined how the virus affected the collection of proteins found in lung fluid from macaque monkeys at OHSU. The monkeys were part of a research study that's ongoing of monkeypox infection at OHSU's Oregon National Primate Research Center in Beaverton.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


October 26, 2010, 8:07 AM CT

Listeria clever at finding its way into bloodstream

Listeria clever at finding its way into bloodstream
Arun Bhunia determined that listeria bacteria can pass between intestinal cells and triggers a mechanism that increases listeria's ability to enter the cells. (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell)

Pathogenic listeria tricks intestinal cells into helping it pass through those cells to make people ill, and, if that doesn't work, the bacteria simply goes around the cells, as per a Purdue University study.

Arun Bhunia, a professor of food science, and Kristin Burkholder, a former Purdue graduate student who is now a postdoctoral researcher in microbiology and immunology at the University of Michigan Medical School, observed that listeria, even in low doses, somehow triggers intestinal cells to express a new protein, heat shock protein 60, that acts as a receptor for listeria. This may allow the bacteria to enter the cells in the intestinal wall and exit into a person's bloodstream. Bhunia and Burkholder's findings were reported in the early online version of the journal Infection and Immunity.

"It's possible that host cells generate more of these proteins in order to protect themselves during a stressful event such as infection," Burkholder said. "Our data suggest that listeria appears to benefit from this by actually using those proteins as receptors to enhance infection."

Listeria monocytogenes is a foodborne bacteria that can cause fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea, as well as headaches, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions if it spreads to the nervous system. As per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it sickens about 2,500 and kills 500 people each year in the United States and primarily affects pregnant women, newborns, elderly adults and those with weakened immune systems.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


October 22, 2010, 7:45 AM CT

Influenza's structure for future drug targeting

Influenza's structure for future drug targeting
Professor Timothy A. Cross is a researcher at Florida State University.

Credit: FSU

Beating the flu has always been tough, but it has gotten even more difficult in recent years. Two of the four antiviral drugs used to treat a nasty case of the influenza A virus no longer work.

Fortunately, researchers at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and Institute of Molecular Biophysics at Florida State University and scientists at Brigham Young University in Utah are close to understanding why these drugs have become less effective and how new drugs might take their place. Their findings appear this week in the journal Science.

"Resistance to drugs is a fundamental problem that develops from their misuse, overuse and underuse," said Timothy A. Cross, the Earl Frieden Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Florida State and director of the Magnet Lab's Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Program, as well as one of the Science article's senior authors. Compounding the problem is that "the development of new drugs to take their place is a decade-long process with infrequent success".

The two drugs no longer recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control amantadine (brand names Symadine and Symmetrel) and rimantadine (Flumadine) have been used to fight the flu since 1969. For decades, they worked by preventing an essential protein function during viral infection of healthy cells. The protein, called the M2 channel, plays a key role in the virus' ability to reproduce. But the M2 channel mutated just enough to allow the virus to resist both drugs.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


September 23, 2010, 6:35 AM CT

New TB Vaccine In Clinical Trial

New TB Vaccine In Clinical Trial
At an international gathering of TB vaccine scientists in Tallinn today, the Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation announced it will initiate a clinical trial of an investigational live recombinant tuberculosis vaccine to be led by scientists at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. The announcement was made at the Second Global Forum on TB Vaccine Development.

Building on more than a decade of global scientific research, Aeras researchers have engineered a new investigational vaccine, called AERAS-422, which will undergo clinical trials to evaluate its properties for interrupting TB at all stages of infection, including initial infection, latency and reactivation.

"Moving our lead in-house vaccine from the laboratory into clinical testing is an important milestone for Aeras and its partners. Finding a potential replacement for the currently available TB vaccine, which was invented almost 90 years ago, is a primary goal in our mission," said Thomas G. Evans, MD, Aeras' Chief Scientific Officer. "Based on data from pre-clinical studies, we are cautiously optimistic about the potential of this vaccine candidate to be safer and more immunogenic than the currently available vaccine".

The new vaccine, called AERAS-422, is a modernized version of the currently used TB vaccine - Bacille Calmette Guerin (BCG). BCG is widely viewed as insufficient in preventing pulmonary TB, and this trial is part of a wider global effort to develop safer and more immunogenic TB vaccines that would be effective against all forms of TB.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


September 20, 2010, 7:13 AM CT

How HIV resists AZT

How HIV resists AZT
Rutgers scientists have discovered how HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS, resists AZT, a drug widely used to treat AIDS.

The scientists, who report their findings in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, believe their discovery helps scientists understand how important anti-AIDS therapys can fail and could help AIDS scientists develop more effective therapy for the disease.

"What we've found is the detailed way in which the mutations act to promote the resistance," said author Eddy Arnold, Board of Governors Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and a resident faculty member of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine. "Instead of blocking the actions of AZT, the virus actually removes it, and it does so by using ATP, one of the most common cellular molecules. This is an outstanding example of how sneaky HIV can be in thwarting the efficacy of therapeutic drugs".

AZT was once the only therapy for AIDS, and it remains an important therapy, especially in preventing the transmission of the virus from infected mothers to their unborn children.

Scientists knew almost from the beginning that the virus developed resistance to AZT, and that this resistance had to do with mutations, but the way the mutations worked to resist the drug was mysterious.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


September 16, 2010, 8:47 AM CT

How bacteria acquire immunity

How bacteria acquire immunity
In a newly released study this week, Rice University researchers bring the latest tools of computational biology to bear in examining how the processes of natural selection and evolution influence the way bacteria acquire immunity from disease.

The study is available online from Physical Review Letters It builds upon a main discoveries made possible by molecular genetics in the past decade -- the revelation that bacteria and similar single-celled organisms have an acquired immune system.

"From a purely scientific perspective, this research is teaching us things we couldn't have imagined just a few years ago, but there's an applied interest in this work as well," said Michael Deem, the John W. Cox Professor in Biochemical and Genetic Engineering and professor of physics and astronomy at Rice. "It is believed, for instance, that the bacterial immune system uses a process akin to RNA interference to silence the disease genes it recognizes, and biotechnology companies may find it useful to develop this as a tool for silencing particular genes".

The newly released study by Deem and graduate student Jiankui He focused on a portion of the bacterial genome called the "CRISPR," which stands for "clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats." The CRISPR contain two types of DNA sequences. One type -- short, repeating patterns that first attracted scientific interest -- is what led to the CRISPR name. But researchers more recently learned that the second type -- originally thought of as DNA "spacers" between the repeats -- is what the organism uses to recognize disease.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


September 11, 2010, 9:14 AM CT

Sizing Up Vaccines

Sizing Up Vaccines
Vaccination is the most important public health strategy for protection from serious illnesses such as whooping cough and polio. But this strategy relies on having an ample stockpile. Researchers have found that how these stockpiles are built and deployed has different implications for public health.
A creative version of a classic engineering technique may improve decisions about building and using supplies of important pediatric vaccines, potentially leading to lower public health costs and healthier children.

The United States maintains a six-month supply of common pediatric vaccines to ensure protection from deadly diseases, such as the flu, polio, and diphtheria, despite interruptions in vaccine production. The stockpiles must be replenished as the vaccines are used or expire, and, because the manufacture of vaccines is a laborious and unreliable process, health officials must place orders for new vaccines up to a year in advance.

Scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) have developed a mathematical framework to better understand the implications of vaccine stockpile levels through evidence-based engineering principles. Industrial engineers Sheldon Jacobson of UIUC and Ruben ProaƱo of RIT, who specialize in operations research, and Janet Jokela, a specialist in public health and infectious diseases at UIUC, published this work in the online edition of the November 2010 Journal of Industrial and Management Optimization.

Deciding how a number of pediatric vaccine doses to order from year to year is no simple task. As per the researchers, "The decision must balance several objectives that sometimes conflict." These include: minimizing the impact of vaccine shortages, maintaining or increasing vaccine coverage, and minimizing vaccine costs (including costs from unused vaccine).........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Scientists at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston have found a genetic marker that may identify individuals at greater risk for life-threatening infection from the West Nile virus. Results of the study are reported in the Nov. 15 print edition of Journal of Infectious Diseases.

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