An international research team has identified a gene on human chromosome 6 that makes people vulnerable to leprosy. The study will be published in the March 2003 issue of Nature Genetics. Leprosy, a chronic disease caused by infection with the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae, affects approximately one million people worldwide. While it is a rare disease in Canada and the United States, the World Health Organization has identified 91 countries in which leprosy infection is highly prevalent. Symptoms of leprosy include pigmented skin lesions, permanent nerve damage leading to numbness of the feet and hands and, if left untreated, the disease may result in gross disfiguration including loss of finger, toes, feet and hands.
Researchers have developed a novel approach to genetically instruct human immune cells to recognize and kill cancer cells in a mouse model. The investigators plan to ultimately apply this strategy in a clinical trial setting for patients with certain forms of leukemias and lymphomas. Scientists at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) genetically engineered an antigen receptor, introduced it into cultured human T cells, and infused the T cells in mice that bear widespread tumor cells. The modified T cells, now able to recognize the targeted antigen present on the tumor cells, eradicated the cancer.
Older patients with lowered immunity to certain common bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract are more likely than younger patients to suffer cognitive decline after coronary artery bypass surgery, according to a new analysis by Duke University Medical Center researchers.
Within the gut resides a class of bacteria known as gram-negative bacteria. These bacteria can release endotoxins into the bloodstream as a result of action of the heart-lung machine — which circulates the blood throughout the body while surgeons operate on a stopped heart — triggering a cascade of immunological events including systemic inflammation.
Scientists hunting for genes responsible for acute lymphoblastic leukemia have a new compass: a system that uses powerful genetic techniques in a zebrafish model. Researchers report they have created a zebrafish model that will help scientists pinpoint genes that accelerate or delay the spread of T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a disease responsible for 400 deaths – about half of them, children – in the United States each year. The model may also provide a faster, more direct way of testing novel drugs against the disease.
With the same compound the body uses to clot blood, scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University have created a nano-fiber mat that could eventually become a “natural bandage.” Spun from strands of fibrinogen 1,000 times thinner than a human hair, the fabric could be placed on a wound and never taken off — minimizing blood loss and encouraging the natural healing process.
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.
U.S. soldiers fighting in today’s high-tech military force will be much more likely to survive traumatic brain injuries if University of Florida researchers succeed in developing a blood test to assess the severity of head wounds on the battlefield, U.S. Department of Defense officials say. Such a test can’t come soon enough for the department, which has allocated $2.2 million to help scientists at UF’s McKnight Brain Institute and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research develop the first routine diagnostic tool to define the scope of such injuries. Penetrating brain injuries claim 25 percent of soldiers killed in battle, according to department officials, yet there is no effective way to diagnose traumatic brain injury short of a brain scan, which is not practical in combat settings.
The largest-ever study of cocaine users who suffered heart-related effects from taking the drug finds that a specially designed plan of emergency-room care for such patients can save both lives and money. Such plans have been in place for traditional chest pain patients for years, and many hospitals set aside part of their ERs to hold them for observation. But doctors have lacked criteria to help them decide how long to hold patients whose chest pain was caused by cocaine – even as millions of Americans are using the drug.
The experiences of millions of people have proved that antidepressants work, but only with the advent of sophisticated imaging technology have scientists begun to learn exactly how the medications affect brain structures and circuits to bring relief from depression. Researchers at UW-Madison and UW Medical School recently added important new information to the growing body of knowledge. For the first time, they used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)–technology that provides a view of the brain as it is working–to see what changes occur over time during antidepressant treatment while patients experience negative and positive emotions.
Researchers have developed a new statistical genetic “fishing net” that they have cast into a sea of complex genetic data on autistic children to harvest an elusive autism gene.
Moreover, the researchers said that the success of the approach will be broadly applicable to studying genetic risk factors for other complex genetic diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. In this case, the gene, which encodes part of a brain neurotransmitter docking station called the gamma-Aminobutyric Acid Receptor beta3-subunit (GABRB3), has been implicated in autism previously, but never positively linked to the disease. Their findings will be published in the March 2003 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics.
Injections of a progesterone-type hormone may be able to prevent more than a third of pre-term births in women with a history of giving birth early, reported Paul J. Meis, M.D., of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, today (Feb. 6) at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in San Francisco. “The evidence of this treatment’s effectiveness was so dramatic, the research was stopped early,” said Meis, the national principal investigator and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Wake Forest. “This drug is readily available and can be used by doctors to improve outcomes for mothers and babies.”
As nutrition experts debate the ideal combination of protein, carbohydrates and fat that people should eat, new research explains for the first time how and why a moderately high protein diet may be the best for losing weight. The new findings suggest that eating more high quality protein will increase the amount of leucine, an amino acid, in the diet, helping a person maintain muscle mass and reduce body fat during weight loss. Maintaining muscle during weight loss efforts is essential because it helps the body burn more calories.