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Disease

Microbiologist Emma Allen-Vercoe and her lab team, whipping up a batch of RePOOPulate

If the clostridium difficile bacterium becomes over-abundant in a person’s colon, the results can include gastrointestinal problems such as severe diarrhea. Ordinarily, c. difficile populations are kept in check by the usually-present beneficial gut bacteria. If those “good” bacteria are killed off as a side effect of taking antibiotics, however, the nasties can take over. The treatment? Well ... it often involves having another person’s stool implanted in your gut via enema. Yikes. Fortunately, a less icky treatment is in the works, that involves the use of a “synthetic poop” known as RePOOPulate.  Read More

A 3D image of a rotavirus, constructed from data gathered using the new technique

Traditionally, in order to view tiny biological structures such as viruses, they must first be removed from their natural habitats and frozen. While this certainly keeps them still for the microscope, it greatly limits what we can learn about them – it’s comparable to an ichthyologist only being able to study dead fish in a lab, instead of observing live ones in the ocean. Now, however, researchers at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have devised a technique for observing live viruses in a liquid environment. It could have huge implications for the development of treatments for viral infections.  Read More

Anopheles mosquito after taking a snack (Photo: US Center for Disease Control and Preventi...

A small company in the U.K. is developing an affordable, hand-held device that will not only diagnose malaria in the field, but will also read DNA markers that suggest which antimalarial drugs will be most effective for treatment. If fielded, such a device could help alleviate the 200+ million cases of malaria per year, as well as prevent some of the nearly one million deaths associated with malarial illness.  Read More

'If this could be used as a treatment one day, it is conceivable that patients would only ...

Scientists at The Rockefeller University have found that harnessing proteins from the human immune system can suppress the HIV virus in mice. Potentially, this could lead to a therapeutic approach to treating the virus that does not require a daily application of drugs.  Read More

A team of scientists has devised a new approach to treating type II diabetes (Photo: Shutt...

According to the World Health Organization, there are currently 347 million diabetics worldwide, with 90 percent of those people having type II diabetes specifically. It occurs when fat accumulates in places such as muscles, blood vessels and the heart, causing the cells in those areas to no longer be sufficiently responsive to insulin. This insulin resistance, in turn, causes blood glucose levels to rise to dangerous levels. Ultimately, it can result in things such as heart disease, strokes, blindness, kidney failure, and amputations. Fortunately, however, an international team of scientists has just announced a new way of treating the disease.  Read More

A chemical that affects the biological clock could help provide a new class of drugs to tr...

Scientists have long suspected that metabolic disorders, such as type 2 diabetes and obesity, could be linked to our circadian rhythm or biological clock. For example, laboratory mice with altered biological clocks often become obese and develop diabetes. Now biologists at UC San Diego have discovered that a chemical, which affects the activity of a key protein that regulates our biological clock, can repress the production of glucose by the liver, offering a promising new direction for the development of a new class of drugs to treat diabetes.  Read More

A diagram illustrating the steps in the new microsphere production technique (Image: Dr. X...

One of the more promising developments in the field of medical technology involves the use of microspheres for targeted drug delivery. In a nutshell, this encompasses creating tiny hollow balls that are filled with a specific drug, which travel directly to a specific organ or area of diseased tissue. Once there, the spheres release their medication, keeping it concentrated where it’s needed while sparing other tissue from any harmful side effects. Recently, a team of scientists from Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces devised a new method of manufacturing such microspheres, which is said to offer several advantages over existing techniques.  Read More

A new cancer treatment targeting cellular 'protein factories' is set to begin clinical tri...

Researchers at Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum (Peter Mac) Cancer Centre are set to begin clinical trials of a cancer treatment they say represents a major shift in molecular approaches to treating the disease. The treatment, which has proven successful in the lab against lymphoma and leukemia cells, targets the production of proteins within the heart of cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells relatively unaffected.  Read More

The synthetic protein EP67 acts on the immune system to attack the influenza virus (Colori...

We’ve seen promising moves towards developing a universal or near-universal influenza vaccine, but researchers at the Donald P. Shiley BioScience Center have taken a different tack to ward of the crafty virus. Although the flu virus actively keeps the immune system from detecting it for a few days, giving it time to gain a foothold, the researchers have found that a powerful synthetic protein, known as EP67, can kick start the immune system so that it reacts almost immediately to all strains of the virus.  Read More

The Massachusetts General Hospital handheld diagnostic magnetic resonance (DMR) device can...

Magnetic resonance. We all think of the massive multimillion dollar magnetic resonance imaging machines into whose gaping mouth we are slowly propelled on a motorized table, ready to have our smallest flaws exposed. But the phenomenon of magnetic resonance has other medical uses. A team of physicians and scientists led by Prof. Ralph Weissleder of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has developed a handheld diagnostic magnetic resonance (DMR) device that can diagnose cancer in an hour with greatly improved accuracy compared to the current gold standard. The DMR technique is sensitive enough that only material from a fine needle aspiration biopsy is needed for the test - a far less painful experience compared to the usual surgical or core needle biopsies.  Read More

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