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September 24, 2009, 7:14 AM CT

Pregnant women need flu shots

Pregnant women need flu shots
Pregnant women should be sure to get all their flu shots as soon as the vaccines become available this year to protect them against both the seasonal flu and the H1N1 (swine) flu, as per eight leading national maternal and infant health organizations.

The eight organizations the March of Dimes, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses, the Infectious Disease Society for Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine today partnered to issue a joint statement because the H1N1 virus has proven to be particularly dangerous to pregnant women.

"The normal changes of pregnancy make pregnant women at increased risk of the harmful effects of flu infection," the groups say.

Some pregnant women appears to be reluctant to take these shots. But Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes, says, "We urge every pregnant woman to discuss influenza immunization with her health care provider because the risk of serious illness during pregnancy is substantial. It is important to note that the vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective in clinical trials".........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


September 18, 2009, 6:28 PM CT

New rabies vaccine may require only a single shot

New rabies vaccine may require only a single shot
A person, commonly a child, dies of rabies every 20 minutes. However, only one inoculation appears to be all it takes for rabies vaccination, as per new research reported in the Journal of Infectious Diseases by scientists at the Jefferson Vaccine Center.

A replication-deficient rabies virus vaccine that lacks a key gene called the matrix (M) gene induced a rapid and efficient anti-rabies immune response in mice and non-human primates, as per James McGettigan, Ph.D., assistant professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University.

"The M gene is one of the central genes of the rabies virus, and its absence inhibits the virus from completing its life cycle," Dr. McGettigan said. "The virus in the vaccine infects cells and induces an immune response, but the virus is deficient in spreading".

The immune response induced with this process is so substantial that only one inoculation appears to be sufficient enough, as per Dr. McGettigan. In addition, the vaccine may be efficient in both pre-exposure and post-exposure settings.

Currently, the World Health Organization standard for rabies infection is post-exposure prophylaxis. The complex regimen in the United States requires six different shots over 28 days: five of the rabies vaccine and one of rabies immunoglobulin.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


September 17, 2009, 7:52 AM CT

How HIV cripples immune cells

How HIV cripples immune cells
The actin cytoskeleton of human T-lymphocytes (red) in the presence of the stimulus CCL-19. An HIV-1 infection (HIV-1 protein CA in green) leads to the loss of actin reorganization and therefore of cell motility.

Source: Hygiene Institute, Heidelberg University Hospital.
In order to be able to ward off disease pathogens, immune cells must be mobile and be able to establish contact with each other. The working group around Professor Dr. Oliver Fackler in the Virology Department of the Hygiene Institute of the Heidelberg University Hospital has discovered a mechanism in an animal model revealing how HIV, the AIDS pathogen, cripples immune cells: Cell mobility is inhibited by the HIV Nef protein. The study was reported in the highly respected journal "Cell Host & Microbe". This discovery may have pointed the way towards a new therapy approach.

Over 30 million persons worldwide are infected with HIV. Typically, after the initial infection accompanied by acute symptoms, there is a latency period of several years before the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) manifests. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has developed numerous strategies for eluding the body's defenses and the medications administered. The prerequisite for efficient reproduction of the virus in the patient's body is the virus's own Nef protein. Without Nef, the development of AIDS is significantly slowed or even stopped completely. The underlying mechanism of this observation was a complete mystery up to now, however.

HIV modifies the cell structure system of the host cells.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


August 28, 2009, 6:55 AM CT

The Path to New Antibiotics

The Path to New Antibiotics
Scientists at Burnham Institute for Medical Research (Burnham), University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and University of Maryland have demonstrated that an enzyme that is essential to a number of bacteria can be targeted to kill dangerous pathogens. In addition, researchers discovered chemical compounds that can inhibit this enzyme and suppress the growth of pathogenic bacteria. These findings are essential to develop new broad-spectrum antibacterial agents to overcome multidrug resistance. The research was reported in the Cell journal Chemistry & Biology on August 27.

Andrei Osterman, Ph.D., an associate professor in Burnham's Bioinformatics and Systems Biology program, and his colleagues, targeted the bacterial nicotinate mononucleotide adenylyltransferase (NadD), an essential enzyme for nicotinamide adenine dinculeotide (NAD) biosynthesis. NAD has a number of crucial functions in nearly all important pathogens and the bacterial NadD differs significantly from the human enzyme.

"It's clear that because of bacterial resistance, we need new, wide-spectrum antibiotics," said Dr. Osterman. "This enzyme is indispensable in a number of pathogens, so finding ways to inhibit it could give us new options against infection".

As per the National Institutes of Health, drug resistance is making a number of diseases increasingly difficult-and sometimes impossible-to treat. They point to tuberculosis and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) as two pathogens that pose a serious threat to human health.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


August 21, 2009, 7:11 AM CT

Universal Influenza Vaccination

Universal Influenza Vaccination
We all know that influenza vaccination helps prevent disease, but a newly released study from Canada suggests it may also prevent another public health problem: inappropriate antibiotic use. The findings come from a newly released study in the September 1, 2009 issue of Clinical Infectious Disease, which is now available online.

Starting in 2000, the Canadian province of Ontario introduced a universal immunization program offering free influenza vaccines to anyone 6 months of age or older. Other provinces continued to target only high-risk groups and their contacts for vaccination. The authors compared prescription rates for influenza-associated respiratory antibiotics before and after the Ontario program began, and compared the Ontario prescription rates with those of other provinces.

The broader immunization effort in Ontario was linked to a 64 percent decline in these antibiotic prescriptions compared with the other provinces that maintained targeted vaccination programs. Additionally, influenza-associated mortality fell 39 percent. Flu-related hospitalizations, emergency department use, and doctors' office visits also fell an average of 52 percent.

Influenza and upper respiratory conditions account for a substantial number of antibiotic prescriptions, even though antibiotics don't work against viruses such as the flu. The overuse of antibiotics and the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria continue to be serious public health problems. As per study author Fawziah Marra, PharmD, of the University of British Columbia, the study's findings suggest that "jurisdictions wishing to decrease antibiotic use might consider programs to increase influenza vaccination".........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


August 16, 2009, 9:36 PM CT

Needle-free, inhalant powder measles vaccine

Needle-free, inhalant powder measles vaccine
Scientists have developed the first dry powder inhalable vaccine for measles. The inhaler is easy to use.

Credit: Aktiv-Dry, LLC
The first dry powder inhalable vaccine for measles is moving toward clinical trials next year in India, where the disease still sickens millions of infants and children and kills almost 200,000 annually, as per a report presented here today at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Robert Sievers, Ph.D., who leads the team that developed the dry-powder vaccine, said it's a perfect fit for use in back-roads areas of developing countries. Those areas often lack the electricity for refrigeration, clean water and sterile needles needed to administer traditional liquid vaccines.

"Childhood vaccines that can be inhaled and delivered directly to mucosal surfaces have the potential to offer significant advantages over injection," Sievers said. "Not only might they reduce the risk of infection from HIV, hepatitis, and other serious diseases due to unsterilized needles, they may prove more effective against disease."

"A number of serious infections, such as the measles virus, can enter the body through inhalation. Measles vaccine dry powders have the potential to effectively vaccinate infants, children and adults by inhalation, avoiding the problems linked to liquid vaccines delivered by injection," he added.

Eventhough made for developing countries, the technology eventually could become the basis for a new generation of inhalable and ouchless vaccines in the United States and elsewhere. So far, an inhalable vaccine is available for only one disease. It is a wet mist vaccine for influenza.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


August 16, 2009, 9:17 PM CT

The buzz on an amazing new mosquito repellent

The buzz on an amazing new mosquito repellent
Mosquitoes stay away from repellent-soaked cloth on the arm of researcher Ulrich Bernier.

Credit: Greg Allen, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service

After searching for more than 50 years, researchers finally have discovered many new mosquito repellents that beat DEET, the gold standard for warding off those pesky, sometimes disease-carrying insects. The stuff seems like a dream come true. It makes mosquitoes buzz off three times longer than DEET, the active ingredient in a number of of today's bug repellents. It does not have the unpleasant odor of DEET. And it does not cause DEET's sticky-skin sensation.

But there's a fly in the ointment: The odds appears to be stacked against any of the new repellents finding a place on store shelves this year or next or ever.

Ulrich Bernier, Ph.D., lead researcher for the repellent study, said the costly, time-consuming pre-market testing and approval process is a hurdle that will delay availability of the repellents, which were discovered last year. The results of his team's work were presented today at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) by Maia Tsikoli, Ph.D., a post-doctoral researcher working with Bernier.

"Commercial availability of topical repellents can take years and a significant investment to achieve that end goal," Bernier said. "The cost will be several hundred thousand dollars. Once you determine that the repellent works through some screening process, we then have to go through a toxicological hazard assessment involving numerous toxicological tests".........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


August 13, 2009, 7:06 AM CT

Uncovering the secrets of ulcer-causing bacteria

Uncovering the secrets of ulcer-causing bacteria
Contact with stomach acid keeps the mucin lining the epithelial cell layer in a gel-like state.

Credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation

A team of scientists from Boston University, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently made a discovery that changes a long held paradigm about how bacteria move through soft gels. They showed that the bacterium that causes human stomach ulcers uses a clever biochemical strategy to alter the physical properties of its environment, allowing it to move and survive and further colonize its host.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports the findings in its most recent issue.

Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium that inhabits various areas of the stomach where it causes chronic, low-level inflammation and is associated with gastric ulcers and stomach cancer. In order to colonize the stomach, H. pylori must cope with highly acidic conditions in which other bacteria are unable to survive. It is well known however, that the bacterium accomplishes this by producing ammonia to neutralize the acid in its surroundings. In addition, newly published research shows it does something else; it changes its environment to enable freer movement.

Acidic conditions within the stomach also work against the bacteria's ability to move freely. This is due to a protein called "mucin," a crucial component of the protective mucus layer in the stomach. In the presence of acid mucin forms a protective gel, which acts as a physical barrier that stops harmful bacteria from reaching the cell wall.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


August 11, 2009, 11:06 PM CT

The tourist trap

The tourist trap
Mosquitoes with the potential to carry diseases lethal to a number of unique species of Galapagos wildlife are being regularly introduced to the islands via aircraft, as per new research published recently.

The southern house mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus, was previously thought to have been introduced to the Galapagos in a one-off event in the mid-1980s.

However, researchers from the University of Leeds, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the University of Guayaquil, the Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Foundation, have shown that the mosquito is regularly hitching a ride from the mainland and breeding with existing populations.

The sinister stowaways are also island hopping on tourist boats, meaning that incursions of mosquito-borne diseases are likely to spread throughout the archipelago.

Arnaud Bataille, a Leeds-ZSL PhD student who carried out the work said, "Our research consisted of looking for insects in aircraft holds and genetic analysis of the mosquito populations. The former allows us to quantify the arrival rates of mosquitoes on aeroplanes, and the latter allow us to estimate how a number of survive and spread around the islands once in Galapagos. On average the number of mosquitoes per aeroplane is low, but a number of aircraft arrive each day from the mainland in order to service the tourist industry, and the mosquitoes seem able to survive and breed once they leave the plane".........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


August 2, 2009, 10:58 PM CT

HIV integrase inhibitor effective

HIV integrase inhibitor effective
A member of a new class of antiretroviral drugs is safe and effective for patients beginning therapy against HIV, as per scientists who have completed a two-year multisite phase III clinical trial comparing it with standard antiretroviral drugs.

The results are online and scheduled for publication in an upcoming issue of the Lancet

Main author of the Lancet article is Jeffrey Lennox, MD, professor of medicine (infectious diseases) at Emory University School of Medicine. Lennox is chief of Emory's HIV/AIDS clinical trials unit and vice-chair of medicine dealing with Grady Memorial Hospital.

"These results provide an additional potent, well tolerated therapy option for newly diagnosed patients with HIV infection," says Lennox.

Raltegravir, a HIV integrase inhibitor, is overall as effective as widely used efavirenz, a reverse transcriptase inhibitor, the scientists found. Raltegravir also had faster onset of action and fewer adverse side effects. In the clinical trial, both were combined with two other standard retroviral drugs, tenofovir and emtricitabine.

The trial included 566 patients from 67 medical centers on five continents. The "primary endpoint" of the trial was pushing viral levels below 50 copies per ml of blood by week 48. Of the raltegravir group, 86 percent reached that goal, compared with 82 percent of the efavirenz group.........

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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