Researchers have for the first time described a method that Staphylococcus aureus (staph) infection uses to inactivate the body’s immune system. A protein produced by the staph bacteria causes previously healthy B cells — a specialized cell of the immune system — to commit suicide, a process called apoptosis. “By the targeted elimination of disease-causing B cells, properly dosed injections of SpA may have the potential to control the over-activity of the immune system that causes damage in autoimmune diseases like lupus and in certain cancers,” said Gregg Silverman, M.D., UCSD professor of medicine and senior author of the paper.
Under the right economic conditions, a growing demand for forest products that accompanies development may lead to an increase ? not a decline ? in forest cover, according to a new study by researchers at Brown University and Harvard University. Policies that focus on reducing paper demand may not necessarily increase forestation.
With a little help from modern chemistry, you can avoid bursting your kid’s bubble … at least for a while, if you’re careful. By adding a strengthening polymer to its bubble solution, a Canadian company has developed soap bubbles that resist popping, according to an article in the April 28 issue of Chemical & Engineering News. C&EN is a weekly news magazine published by the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.
A new mouse study suggests fasting every other day can help fend off diabetes and protect brain neurons as well as or better than either vigorous exercise or caloric restriction. The findings also suggest that reduced meal frequency can produce these beneficial effects even if the animals gorged when they did eat, according the investigators at the National Institute on Aging (NIA). ?The implication of the new findings on the beneficial effects of regular fasting in laboratory animals is that their health may actually improve if the frequency of their meals is reduced,? says Mark Mattson, Ph.D., chief of the NIA?s Laboratory of Neurosciences.
In the last few months, severe acute respiratory syndrome has infected thousands in Asia, traveled to various parts of the world and gained international attention. In April 2003, the disease was conclusively identified as a type of coronavirus unlike any other known human or animal virus in the Coronavirus family.
Sanjay Kapil, a Kansas State University associate professor of diagnostic medicine pathobiology, says human interference with domestic and wild animals could be a factor in the development of the disease.
Samples of the pathogens identified in severe acute respiratory syndrome look similar to coronaviruses found in animals. Because the sequences found in human samples are unique, the virus must have changed substantially when it transferred from animals to humans, Kapil said.
The method that Staphylococcus aureus (staph) infection uses to inactivate the body’s immune response and cause previously healthy B cells to commit suicide, is described for the first time by researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine. Normally, B cells mount an early defense against invading bacteria. From this immunologic experience, memory B cells are developed with the ability to quickly recognize these antigens and destroy the bacteria if they return in the future. When staph infections occur, however, this important process for immune defense can be corrupted.
Scientists have finally laid hands on the first member of a recalcitrant group of proteins called the Wnts two decades after their discovery. Important regulators of animal development, these proteins were suspected to have a role in keeping stem cells in their youthful, undifferentiated state – a suspicion that has proven correct, according to research carried out in two laboratories at Stanford University Medical Center. The ability to isolate Wnt proteins could help researchers grow some types of stem cells for use in bone marrow transplants or other therapies.
In a finding that could shed light on the earliest origins of mankind, fossil remains found in South Africa of an ancestral human species have proven far older than expected when evaluated by a Purdue University research team. Purdue’s Darryl Granger and Marc Caffee have determined the age of a fossilized skeleton thought to be an Australopithecus ? a genus of African hominids from which humanity is thought to have developed ? by measuring the radioactivity of the cave sediments in which the skeleton was buried millions of years ago. Their measurement technique, generally used to estimate the age of geological formations such as glaciated valleys and river terraces, has never before been used to date biological fossils.
Researchers have literally unearthed a treasure trove of genomic information from ten newly identified viruses found in the monkey pit at the Bronx Zoo and other locations. The viruses are called mycobacteriophages and they infect a range of bacteria, including those that cause tuberculosis and leprosy.
Highly educated workers seem to be at greater risk for poor mental health than the general U.S. population, a new study suggests. While other studies have examined workplace settings and mental health status, this is the first to focus on a workforce that is predominantly highly educated, say the study’s authors.
Shoddy work by a DNA-repair enzyme allows tuberculosis-causing bacteria to develop antibiotic resistance, scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) have discovered. Reported in the current issue of the journal Cell, the finding could lead to new ways to treat TB without risking the development of drug resistance.
Chemists hope a new variant of vancomycin that contains buckyballs — tiny cage-shaped molecules of pure carbon — could become the world’s first targeted antibiotic, creating a new line of defense against bioweapons like anthrax. Vancomycin, which entered clinical service 40 years ago, is the antibiotic of last resort, given only when all others fail. Unfortunately, vancomycin-resistant strains of bacteria have appeared in recent years.