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October 19, 2006, 9:35 PM CT

Immune System And Fight Against TB

Immune System And  Fight Against TB
A key aspect of how the body kicks the immune system into action against tuberculosis is revealed in research published recently. The authors, writing in Science, hope that their research could aid the development of novel vaccines and immunotherapies to combat TB, which is responsible for two million deaths each year.

The cause of TB is a slow-growing bacterium known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Researchers have known for some time that when host cells are invaded by this bacterium, the host cells are able to call up additional immune cells such as lymphocytes to fight them and try to limit the damage which the bacteria can cause.

The new research, by researchers from Imperial College London, the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, and other international institutions, identifies a receptor on the host cells which triggers the immune cells' response to tuberculosis. The researchers demonstrated that without this receptor, known as CCR5, mycobacteria were able to thrive inside host cells, as the immune cells did not receive the signal from CCR5 to attack them.

The researchers hope that their findings could enable a novel vaccine or immunotherapy to be developed which could artificially kick the immune cells into action in the same way as CCR5. This could boost the immune response to TB.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


October 19, 2006, 9:29 PM CT

How Pathogens Spread In Human Body

How Pathogens Spread In Human Body
Scientists at the University of Cambridge have discovered a new, more accurate, method of mapping how bacteria spread within the body, a breakthrough that could lead to more effective therapys and prevention of certain bacterial infections.

Dr. Pietro Mastroeni, Professor Duncan Maskell at the Centre for Veterinary Science, and their teams have pioneered the integration of mathematical models with observational data to predict the spread of individual bacteria within the human body. Their findings are published in the recent issue of PLoS Biology.

The work analyses the spread and distribution of Salmonella in the body, which is a bacterium that causes typhoid fever and food borne gastroenteritis in humans and animals, with severe medical and veterinary consequences and threats for the food industry. The work is of broad significance as these novel research approaches are applicable to a multitude of pathogenic microorganisms.

These studies indicate that individual bacteria and their progenies cleverly escape from host cells and distribute to new sites of the body, continuously staying one step ahead of the immune response. The type of spread varies between different bacteria, thus posing challenges for the rational therapy or prevention of these infections.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


October 18, 2006, 10:38 PM CT

Cancer Stem Cells Linked To Radiation Resistance

Cancer Stem Cells Linked To Radiation Resistance
Certain types of brain cancer cells, called cancer stem cells, help brain tumors to buffer themselves against radiation therapy by activating a "repair switch" that enables them to continue to grow unchecked, scientists at Duke University Medical Center have found.

The scientists also identified a method that appears to block the cells' ability to activate the repair switch following radiation therapy. This finding may lead to the development of therapies for overcoming radiation resistance in brain cancer as well as other types of cancer, the scientists said.

Working with animal and cell culture models, the scientists observed that a specific cellular process called the "DNA damage checkpoint response" appears to enable cancer stem cells to survive exposure to radiation and to switch on a signal to automatically repair any damage caused to their DNA.

"In recent years, people have hypothesized that cancer stem cells are responsible for the resistance of cancerous tumors to radiation therapy," said Jeremy Rich, M.D., senior investigator of the study and an associate professor of neurology at Duke. "We have shown, for the first time, that this is indeed the case".

The findings appear Oct. 18, 2006, in the advance online edition of the journal Nature. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and many philanthropic organizations [complete list below].........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


October 17, 2006, 9:42 PM CT

New Research To Cut Animal Testing

New Research To Cut Animal Testing
Researchers at The University of Manchester have been awarded £130,000 to develop new techniques to reduce the need for animals in drug testing.

Current checks to establish whether a new drug is carcinogenic can be inconclusive and require further testing on live animals to establish whether they are harmful or not.

Dr Richard Walmsley and colleagues at the University spin-out company he founded, Gentronix, have developed techniques using cultured human cells to more effectively weed out cancer-causing compounds.

"The current pre-animal tests that are used are highly sensitive and so most carcinogens are identified," said Dr Walmsley, who is based in the Faculty of Life Sciences.

"Unfortunately, such tests have poor specificity and a lot of safe compounds are also wrongly identified as potential carcinogens. This means that animal testing is still carried out, in case such compounds turn out to be safe.

"The testing process developed at Gentronix has proven very reliable at telling us whether a drug will cause cancer but some chemicals, called promutagens, only become carcinogenic once they have passed through the body's liver.

"This grant will help us develop new non-animal experiments to identify these other toxic compounds and so reduce the need for animal testing".........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


October 17, 2006, 4:53 AM CT

Listening To The Sound Of Skin Cancer

Listening To The Sound Of Skin Cancer
Scientists at the University of Missouri-Columbia can now detect the spread of skin cancer cells through the blood by literally listening to their sound. The unprecedented, minimally invasive technique causes melanoma cells to emit noise, and could let oncologists spot early signs of metastases -- as few as 10 cancer cells in a blood sample -- before they even settle in other organs. The results of the successful experimental tests appear in the Oct. 15 issue of the journal Optics Letters, published by the Optical Society of America.

The team's method, called photoacoustic detection, combines laser techniques from optics and ultrasound techniques from acoustics, using a laser to make cells vibrate and then picking up the characteristic sound of melanoma cells. In a clinical test, doctors would take a patient's blood sample and separate the red blood cells and the plasma. In a healthy person, the remaining cells would be white blood cells, but in a melanoma patient the sample may contain cancer cells. To find out, doctors would put the sample in saline solution and expose it to rapid-fire sequences of brief but intense blue-laser pulses, each lasting just five billionths of a second.

In lab tests, the Missouri-Columbia team was able to detect melanoma cells obtained from actual patients, showing that the method can spot as few as 10 cells in saline solution. The dark, microscopic granules of melanin contained in the cancer cells absorb the energy bursts from the blue-laser light, going through rapid cycles of expanding as they heat up and shrinking as they cool down. These sudden changes generate loud cracks -- relative to the granules' size -- which propagate in the solution like tiny tsunamis.........

Posted by: George      Permalink         Source


October 17, 2006, 4:48 AM CT

Studying Tumor Genomics

Studying Tumor Genomics
The newly established Berkeley Cancer Genome Center, led by members of the Life Sciences Division in the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is one of seven Cancer Genome Characterization Centers to receive awards from the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute. Earlier today the two institutes, both part of the National Institutes of Health, announced a three-year, $35 million project which will seek to identify important genetic changes involved in lung, brain, and ovary cancers through genome analysis.

The Berkeley Cancer Genome Center is a collaboration between Berkeley Lab, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of California at San Francisco. The center's director is Joe W. Gray, who is the director of the Life Sciences Division and Berkeley Lab's Associate Laboratory Director for Life and Environmental Sciences. Computational biologist Paul Spellman of the Life Sciences Division is codirector.

"The Berkeley Cancer Genome Center will be focused on identifying changes to the populations of messenger RNA that occur in cancer," says Spellman. Such changes are indicative of different kinds of proteins produced by the altered genomes of tumor cells.

Spellman says, "The Center will use the Affymetric Exon 1.0 array platform to measure exon-specific expression" - exons are the coding sequences in a gene - "of at least 1,000 samples per year, and will use computational tools to identify those whose behavior suggests they might play a role in cancer."........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


October 16, 2006, 10:20 PM CT

Chemistry To Predict The Dynamics Of Clotting

Chemistry To Predict The Dynamics Of Clotting This image shows clotting occurring on a large area of vascular damage, but not small areas.
Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation
University of Chicago chemists have shown for the first time how to use a simple laboratory model consisting of only a few chemical reactions to predict when and where blood clotting will occur. The researchers used microfluidics, a technique that allowed them to probe blood clotting on surfaces that mimic vascular damage on the micron scale, a unit of measurement much narrower than the diameter of a human hair.

Eventhough researchers understand what occurs during a number of of the 80 individual chemical reactions involved in blood clotting, a number of questions about the dynamics of the entire reaction network remain. Rustem Ismagilov, Associate Professor in Chemistry at the University of Chicago, and graduate students Christian Kastrup, Matthew Runyon and Feng Shen have now developed a technique that will enable researchers to understand the rules governing complex biological reaction networks. They will detail their technique in the online early edition of the Oct. 16-20 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Life and death literally depend on a finely tuned blood-clotting system. "Clotting has to occur at the right place at the right time," Ismagilov said. "A strong, rapid clotting response is essential to stop bleeding at a wound, but such a clotting response at the wrong spot can block blood vessels and can be life-threatening".........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


October 16, 2006, 10:06 PM CT

How Ebola And Marburg Cause Disease

How Ebola And Marburg Cause Disease Ebola Virus
Scientists in the Greene Infectious Disease Laboratory at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Caribbean Primate Research Center have discovered a key mechanism by which the Filoviruses, Ebola and Marburg, cause disease. The identification of an amino acid sequence in Filoviruses that results in the rapid depression of immunological response is described in the December 2006 issue of The FASEB Journal. Using this information, scientists can begin to develop new drugs to stop these devastating diseases.

Filoviruses, named for their threadlike appearance in electron microscopy (filo= thread in Latin), are linked to outbreaks of fatal hemorrhagic fever in sub-Saharan Africa. Viral hemorrhagic fevers are of specific concern because they are linked to high morbidity and mortality (up to 80% mortality rates) and the potential for rapid dissemination through human-to-human transmission. The term "viral hemorrhagic fever" characterizes a severe multisystem syndrome linked to fever, shock, and bleeding caused by infection with one of many viruses, including the Filoviruses Ebola and Marburg.

Both humans and apes are susceptible to viral hemorrhagic fevers, and it is speculated that filovirus infections account at least in part for the recent decline in the gorilla and chimpanzee population in central Africa. There is no cure or approved vaccine for either Marburg or Ebola virus. Immunosuppression occurs early after infection and allows the viruses to reproduce rapidly and cause disease.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


October 15, 2006, 7:25 PM CT

Promise For Herpes Vaccine

Promise For Herpes Vaccine Bill Halford
A study by a Montana State University researcher suggests a new avenue for developing a vaccine against genital herpes and other diseases caused by herpes simplex viruses.

As per a research findings published earlier this year in the Virology Journal, MSU virologist William Halford showed that mice vaccinated with a live, genetically-modified herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) showed no signs of disease 30 days after being exposed to a especially lethal "wild-type" strain of the virus.

In contrast, a second group of mice that received a more conventional vaccine died within six days of being exposed to the same "wild-type" strain.

"We have a clear roadmap for producing an effective live vaccine against genital herpes," said Halford, who works in MSU's Department of Veterinary Molecular Biology. "Eventhough my studies were performed with HSV-1, the implications for HSV-2-induced genital herpes are clear. Overall the two viruses are about 99 percent genetically identical".

An estimated 55 million Americans carry herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), which causes genital herpes. Infection is life-long. Approximately 5 percent of those with genital herpes - 2 million to 3 million Americans - suffer outbreaks one to four times annually. A vaccine offering life-long protection does not exist.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


October 15, 2006, 7:20 PM CT

Drug Might Give Prolonged Arthritis Relief

Drug Might Give Prolonged Arthritis Relief
Scientists at Duke University have devised a new way to significantly prolong the effects of an anti-inflammatory drug, potentially making it useful for providing longer-lasting therapy for osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis.

The modified drug, which would be injected directly into arthritic joints, could last for several weeks rather than just the few hours the unmodified drug would last, the scientists said.

In their study, the scientists modified a drug called interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL1RA). They observed that the drug, which is a protein, could be improved by attaching a second protein that clumps together at normal body temperatures. The combined drug likewise would assemble into clumps in the body to serve as "drug depots" that gradually release active drug particles, the scientists said.

"Eventhough the conventional drug is being used for autoimmune diseases, no one yet knows how much of it would be needed to achieve a therapeutic effect for osteoarthritis," said Lori Setton, associate professor of biomedical engineering and surgery. "Current estimates suggest it would require perhaps two injections per week of the unmodified drug.

"With this advance, we believe therapys could go from twice a week to perhaps twice a month, and that would be a huge clinical gain," she said.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source



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Did you know?
Scientists at Yale have brought to light a mechanism that regulates the way an internal organelle, the Golgi apparatus, duplicates as cells prepare to divide, according to a report in Science Express.Graham Warren, professor of cell biology, and colleagues at Yale study Trypanosoma brucei, the parasite that causes Sleeping Sickness. Like a number of parasites, it is exceptionally streamlined and has only one of each internal organelle, making it ideal for studying processes of more complex organisms that have a number of copies in each cell.

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