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Archives Of Infectious Disease Blog From Medicineworld.Org


February 14, 2008, 10:28 PM CT

Novel approach strips staph of virulence

Novel approach strips staph of virulence
An international team of scientists supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has blocked staph infections in mice using a drug previously tested in clinical trials as a cholesterol-lowering agent. The novel approach, described in the February 14 online edition of Science, could offer a new direction for therapies against a bacterium thats becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

By following their scientific instinct about a basic biological process, the scientists made a surprising discovery with important clinical implications, said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. Eventhough the results are still very preliminary, they offer a promising new lead for developing drugs to treat a very timely and medically important health concern.

This work was supported by three NIH components: the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

A pigment similar to the one that gives carrots their color turns Staphylococcus aureus (staph) golden. In the bacterium, this pigment acts as an antioxidant to block the reactive oxygen molecules the immune system uses to kill bacteria.

Scientists had speculated that blocking pigment formation in staph could restore the immune systems ability to thwart infection. While perusing a magazine on microbial research, Eric Oldfield, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign read how in 2005 University of California, San Diego scientists knocked out a gene in staphs pigment-making pathway to create colorlessand less pathogenicbacteria.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


February 13, 2008, 9:20 PM CT

Vaccine for stomach flu may be possible

Vaccine for stomach flu may be possible
Every year, millions of people are infected with noroviruses - usually called stomach flu often resulting in up to 72 hours of vomiting and diarrhea. While most people recover in a few days, the symptoms can lead to dehydration and - in rare cases, particularly among the elderly and infants - death.

Now, scientists at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health have discovered that the virus mutates genetically, similar to the virus that causes influenza. And, like flu, a vaccine could be possible.

One of the mysteries of medicine has been why do they keep infecting people when youd think wed be developing immunity, said Lisa Lindesmith, one of the lead authors of the study, Mechanisms of GII.4 Norovirus Persistence in Human Populations, published recently in the online medical journal PLoS Medicine. What weve found is that the GII.4 arm [of the noroviruses] keeps changing. Whenever were seeing big outbreaks of norovirus, were also seeing genetic changes in the virus.

Noroviruses are the leading cause of viral acute gastroenteritis. They are highly contagious, often causing epidemic outbreaks in families and communities, on cruise ships, in hospitals and in assisted living facilities. The viruses are particularly hard on the elderly in 2006, 19 deaths were linked to norovirus acute gastroenteritis in long-term care facilities in the United States. Often, infection can mean a number of miserable hours, with time lost from work, school and other activities. There is no therapy to stop the infection.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


February 13, 2008, 9:19 PM CT

HIV persists in the gut despite long-term therapy

HIV persists in the gut despite long-term therapy
Even with effective anti-HIV therapies, doctors still have not been able to eradicate the virus from infected individuals who are receiving such therapys, largely because of the persistence of HIV in hideouts known as viral reservoirs. One important reservoir is the gut, where HIV causes much of its damage due to the large number of HIV target cells that reside there. These cells, known as CD4+ T cells, are largely contained in lymph nodes and patches of lymphocytes that collectively are called gut-associated lymphoid tissue, or GALT.

Because of the importance of the gut to HIV disease, researchers hoped that long-term therapy with antiretroviral drugs could eradicate HIV from the GALT. A new NIAID study, published online by The Journal of Infectious Diseases, has observed that this goal seems unlikely with current antiretroviral drugs.

Tae-Wook Chun, Ph.D., of the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation (LIR), Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., LIR chief and NIAID director, and their colleagues intensively studied eight patients receiving effective antiretroviral treatment for up to 9.9 years. In each of these of these individuals, treatment had consistently kept their blood levels of HIV at undetectable levels. Sensitive tests, however, detected the persistence of HIV as well as lowered CD4+ T cell levels in the GALT that did not completely rebound in response to treatment. Levels of virus were higher in the GALT than in immune cells in the blood, where HIV also was consistently found. In addition, the researchers found evidence of cross infection between the GALT and the lymphocytes in the blood, suggesting that one reason the virus persists in the blood is because of ongoing cycles of replication in the GALT. The authors conclude that any possibility of further lowering or eliminating viral reservoirs likely will require more powerful drug regimens to stop the low levels of ongoing viral replication originating in the GALT. The development of such regimens is an important goal of NIAID-supported research.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


February 6, 2008, 5:24 AM CT

Novel Molecules Can Boost Vaccine Potency

Novel Molecules Can Boost Vaccine Potency
Two novel proteins studied by a University at Buffalo professor of microbiology and immunology appear to have the potential to enhance the production of antibodies against a multitude of infectious agents.

Terry D. Connell, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and immunology in the Witebsky Center for Microbial Pathogenesis in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, developed and patented the LT-IIa and LT-IIb enterotoxins and their respective mutant proteins as new mucosal adjuvants, or "boosters," that can enhance the potency of existing and future vaccines.

Connell and his colleagues published five papers in 2007 describing their advances. They are the only research group in the scientific community investigating the immunology of these adjuvants.

The scientists currently are working to develop a safe and effective method to deliver the immune-enhancing molecules to the body's mucous membranes -- the first line of defense against most pathogens -- to elicit protective immune responses on those membranes.

"Almost every bacterium and virus that attacks us doesn't bore through the skin," said Connell. "These infectious agents enter by colonizing the mucosal surfaces on the eye, sinuses, mouth, gut lining, lungs and genital tract."........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


February 4, 2008, 9:50 PM CT

Grapefruit compound may help combat hepatitis C

Grapefruit compound may help combat hepatitis C
A compound that naturally occurs in grapefruit and other citrus fruits may be able to block the secretion of hepatitis C virus (HCV) from infected cells, a process mandatory to maintain chronic infection. A team of scientists from the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Engineering in Medicine (MGH-CEM) report that HCV is bound to very low-density lipoprotein (vLDL, a so-called bad cholesterol) when it is secreted from liver cells and that the viral secretion mandatory to pass infection to other cells may be blocked by the common flavonoid naringenin.

If the results of this study extend to human patients, a combination of naringenin and antiviral medicine might allow patient to clear the virus from their livers. The report will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Hepatology and has been released online.

By finding that HCV is secreted from infected cells by latching onto vLDL, we have identified a key pathway in the viral lifecycle, says Yaakov Nahmias, PhD, of the MGH-CEM, the papers lead author. These results suggest that lipid-lowering drugs, as well as supplements, such as naringenin, may be combined with traditional antiviral therapies to reduce or even eliminate HCV from infected patients.

HCV is the leading cause of chronic viral liver disease in the United States and infects about 3 percent of the world population. Current antiviral medications are effective in only half of infected patients, 70 percent of whom develop chronic infection that can lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer. Since the virus does not integrate its genetic material into the DNA of infected cells the way HIV does, totally clearing the virus could be possible if new cells were not being infected by secreted virus.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


February 4, 2008, 8:42 PM CT

2009 Bush budget a disaster for HIV/AIDS

2009 Bush budget a disaster for HIV/AIDS
The Presidents proposed budget for fiscal year 2009, if enacted, would spell disaster for the nations health, and by extension, our national effort to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States.

The Administrations budget flat-funds critical federal support for research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), public health programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and vital health care safety net programs funded through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Medicaid program. After accounting for inflation, the budget proposal amounts to a cut in funding for HIV/AIDS research, prevention, care, and therapy.

Adding insult to injury, the budget proposal increases funding for abstinence education programs that have no basis in scientific evidence, an irresponsible policy with potentially deadly consequences. Failure to adequately support evidence-based prevention programs diminishes our capacity to monitor the epidemic, to expand HIV screening to identify those who are already infected but unaware of their status, and to prevent new infections through targeted programs directed to high-risk populations.

Cutting federal Medicaid funding during the current economic downturn when states are struggling to maintain their programs will only result in reductions in eligibility and vital medical services for this essential health care safety net program that provides more financing for HIV care than any other source. The impact of these proposed cuts will undoubtedly fall on the most vulnerable among usthe poor, the elderly, the chronically ill, and those living with disabilities.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


January 21, 2008, 8:34 PM CT

Studies highlight MRSA evolution and resilience

Studies highlight MRSA evolution and resilience
S. aureus bacteria escaping destruction by human white blood cells

Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) infections are caused primarily by a single strainUSA300of an evolving bacterium that has spread with extraordinary transmissibility throughout the United States during the past five years, as per a new study led by National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists. CA-MRSA, an emerging public health concern, typically causes readily treatable soft-tissue infections such as boils, but also can lead to life-threatening conditions that are difficult to treat.

The study, from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of NIH, resolves debate about the molecular evolution of CA-MRSA in the United States. The findings rule out the previously held possibility that multiple strains of USA300, the most troublesome type of CA-MRSA in the United States, emerged randomly with similar characteristics. The study also offers a hypothesis for the origin of prior S. aureus outbreaks, such as those caused by penicillin-resistant strains in the 1950s and 1960s.

A second study led by the same NIAID researchers takes the issue of the evolution of MRSA a step further, revealing new information about how MRSA bacteria in general, including the USA300 group, elude the human immune system.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


January 6, 2008, 10:08 PM CT

Key factor in flu infection

Key factor in flu infection
Researchers have identified a key factor that determines the ability of influenza viruses to infect cells of the human upper respiratory tracta necessary step for sustaining spread between people. The research, described in the January 6 online edition of Nature Biotechnology and funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), offers new insights into how the H5N1 avian flu virus currently circulating in birds would have to change in order to gain a foothold in human populations.

The H5N1 virus has infected several hundred people, but person-to-person transmission has been limited. To trigger a widespread outbreak, experts agree that the bird flu virus must infect the cells lining our noses and throats. We then would spread the virus to others through coughing or sneezing. The latest study, led by Ram Sasisekharan, Ph.D., of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, refines this notion: The virus can gain access only through a subset of the sugar molecules coating the cells of our upper airways.

"Using an approach that combines experimentation and database analysis, Sasisekharans team has changed our view of flu viruses and how they must adapt to infect us, said Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the NIH component that supported the research. The work may improve our ability to monitor the evolution of the H5N1 virus and thwart potential outbreaks.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


December 20, 2007, 5:15 AM CT

Breakthrough in rapid malaria detection

Breakthrough in rapid malaria detection
A research team led by Dr. Paul Wiseman of the Departments of Physics and Chemistry at McGill University has developed a radically new technique that uses lasers and non-linear optical effects to detect malaria infection in human blood, as per a research studyreported in the Biophysical Journal. The scientists say the new technique holds the promise of simpler, faster and far less labour-intensive detection of the malaria parasite in blood samples.

Malaria is a vector-borne infectious disease spread by parasites of the genus Plasmodium. Most common in tropical and subtropical regions, it is a global scourge with 350 to 500 million new cases and one to three million fatalities reported annually. Most of the fatalities are concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, where the resources and trained personnel currently mandatory to accurately diagnose the disease are spread the thinnest.

Current detection techniques require trained technicians to stain slides, look for the parasites DNA signature under the microscope, and then manually count all the visible infected cells, a labourious process dependent on the skill and availability of trained analysts. By contrast, the proposed new technique relies on a known optical effect called third harmonic generation (THG), which causes hemozoin a crystalline substance secreted by the parasite to glow blue when irradiated by an infrared laser.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


December 17, 2007, 10:17 PM CT

Protecting aging Americans against infectious disease

Protecting aging Americans against infectious disease
Scientists at Oregon Health & Science University have uncovered new information about the bodys immune system in a study that suggests new strategies may be in order for protecting the countrys aging population against disease. The research is reported in the current edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The research focused on an important component of the bodys immune system, a certain type of white blood cell called nave T-cells. These cells are called naive because they have no experience of encountering germs. However, once they encounter germs, they learn and adapt to become strong defenders of the organism. The cells play an important role in the vaccination process because vaccines, which contain either weakened or dead viruses, teach nave T-cells how to recognize germs and prepare the body for fighting infectious diseases at a later date. Prior research shows that an individuals supply of nave T-cells diminishes over their lifetime, meaning that in old age a person is more susceptible to infections such as the flu.

Our research identified one actual process by which nave T-cells are lost during the later part of life, explained Janko Nikolich-Zugich, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the OHSU Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute and the Oregon National Primate Research Center and a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology in the OHSU School of Medicine.........

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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