Common human virus may be associated with colon cancer

An association between a common human virus and colon cancer has been established by a group of researchers in the U.S., suggesting a possible role for it in the development of cancer in the human intestinal tract. The so-called JC virus most likely infects humans through the upper respiratory tract and remains in a latent stage in most people throughout their lives, and, in some cases, causes minor sub-clinical problems. But in people whose immune systems are depressed, either through chemotherapy given to organ transplant recipients or an illness such as AIDS, JCV can become active and may contribute to cancer in the brain or cause the fatal demyelinating disease Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML).

Scientists Find that Ulcer-Causing Pathogen Uses Hydrogen for Energy

In a new study, a microbiologist has discovered that the bacteria associated with almost all human ulcers – one that is also correlated with the development of certain types of gastric cancer in humans – uses hydrogen as an energy source. The finding is novel because most bacteria use sugars and other carbohydrates to grow, says Dr. Jonathan Olson, assistant professor of microbiology at North Carolina State. The human pathogen Helicobacter pylori does not.

Protein in Eye May Help Fight Autoimmune Diseases

A protein found in the eye and involved in its “immune privilege” has prevented and halted autoimmune eye disease in animal models and promises to aid in preventing and treating other autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis and diabetes, according to scientists at the Schepens Eye Research Institute at Harvard University. Immune privilege is a special property of the eye that allows the eye to protect itself without the inflammation caused by the body’s conventional immune response to injury and infection.

Environmental Enrichment Reverses Learning Impairments from Lead Poisoning

Environmental enrichment that stimulates brain activity can reverse the long-term learning deficits caused by lead poisoning, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. It has long been known that lead poisoning in children affects their cognitive and behavioral development. Despite significant efforts to reduce lead contamination in homes, childhood lead poisoning remains a major public health problem with an estimated 34 million housing units in the United States containing lead paint. The Hopkins study is the first to demonstrate that the long-term deficits in cognitive function caused by lead can be reversed and offers a basis for the treatment of childhood lead intoxication.