Discovery may lead to first medical treatment for Celiac disease

Results from a new study may lead to the first medical treatment for celiac disease, a hereditary digestive disease that can damage the small intestine and interfere with the absorption of nutrients from food. Celiac disease sufferers cannot tolerate gluten, a protein that is found in wheat, barley and rye. Celiac disease affects an estimated one in 250 Americans, mostly those of European descent, and there is no known medical treatment or cure.

Critical shortage of physician-scientists

America is facing a major roadblock to medical progress. For the speedy translation of promising scientific discoveries into patient treatment, we need a special breed of medical researchers who are trained to ask clinically relevant questions in a health research environment. It’s these individuals who transform clinical observations into research studies and eventual medical advances.

New FDA rule aims to combat antibiotic resistance

FDA today announced that a final rule outlining new labeling regulations designed to help reduce the development of drug-resistant bacterial strains is on display at the Federal Register. This final rule is aimed at reducing the inappropriate prescription of antibiotics to children and adults for common ailments such as ear infections and chronic coughs.

NIH Study Shows MRI Provides Faster, More Accurate Way To Diagnose Heart Attacks

Advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology can detect heart attack in emergency room patients with chest pain more accurately and faster than traditional methods, according to a new study supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Published in the February 4 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, the findings suggest that more patients who are suffering a heart attack or who otherwise have severe blockages in their coronary arteries could receive treatment to reduce or prevent permanent damage to the heart if they are assessed with MRI.

Research reveals how strep bacterium evades immune system

Like a well-trained soldier with honed survival skills, the common bacterium, Group A Streptococcus (GAS), sometimes can endure battle with our inborn (innate) immune system and cause widespread disease. By investigating the ability of combat-ready white blood cells (WBCs) to ingest and kill GAS, researchers have discovered new insights into how this disease-causing bacteria can evade destruction by the immune system. The research is being published this week in the Online Early Edition of the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA.”

Human Gene Affects Memory

NIH scientists have shown that a common gene variant influences memory for events in humans by altering a growth factor in the brain’s memory hub. On average, people with a particular version of the gene that codes for brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) performed worse on tests of episodic memory ? tasks like recalling what happened yesterday. They also showed differences in activation of the hippocampus, a brain area known to mediate memory, and signs of decreased neuronal health and interconnections. These effects are likely traceable to limited movement and secretion of BDNF within cells, according to the study, which reveals how a gene affects the normal range of human memory, and confirms that BDNF affects human hippocampal function much as it does animals’.

U.S. gov’t targets autoimmune diseases in new research push

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson has announced the release of a comprehensive research plan from HHS’ National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fight autoimmune diseases, a collection of disorders including multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis that affect an estimated 14 to 22 million Americans. The plan will foster research to identify genetic, environmental and infectious causes of autoimmune diseases and to develop new treatments and prevention strategies.

The Mouse Genome And The Measure of Man

The international Mouse Genome Sequencing Consortium today announced the publication of a high-quality draft sequence of the mouse genome – the genetic blueprint of a mouse – together with a comparative analysis of the mouse and human genomes describing insights gleaned from the two sequences. The paper appears in the Dec. 5 issue of the journal Nature. The achievement represents a landmark advance for the Human Genome Project. It is the first time that scientists have compared and contrasted the contents of the human genome with that of another mammal. This milestone is all the more significant given that the laboratory mouse is the most important animal model and is widely used in the study of human diseases.

Infection by closely related HIV strains possible

A report of an individual infected with a second strain of HIV despite effective drug treatment following the first infection has researchers concerned. “For the first time, we’ve shown it is possible for an individual to become infected with two closely related strains of HIV,” says Bruce D. Walker, M.D., a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. The findings underscore the challenges vaccine developers face in creating a broadly effective vaccine against HIV. The first HIV vaccines may not prevent infection altogether, but rather may prevent HIV from causing disease by limiting the virus’ ability to reproduce, explains Dr. Walker. This case shows that a hypothetical vaccine against one strain of HIV may not necessarily protect the vaccinee against other, closely related strains.

Major Herpes Vaccine Trial Launched in Women

A pivotal efficacy trial of an experimental vaccine designed to prevent genital herpes in women began enrolling volunteers this week. The study will determine the vaccine’s ability to prevent genital herpes disease in women who are free of two common types of herpes simplex viruses (HSV): HSV-1 and HSV-2. The trial will eventually enroll 7,550 women in at least 16 sites in the United States.