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The Immune System

Rod-like devices are injected just beneath the skin and self-assemble into 3D scaffolds (I...

Scientists have had some success activating the body's immune system to take the fight to cancer and other diseases, a process known as immunotherapy. Now, a new method developed by researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University could advance this form of treatment even further. The technique involves the injection of biomaterials that assemble into 3D scaffolds inside the body to accommodate huge amounts of immune cells, a process that could trigger an attack on deadly infections ranging from HIV to cancer to Ebola.  Read More

An oxygen burst released from leukocytes, magnified 20 times (Image: ESA)

A new study by NASA intends to examine the detrimental effects of microgravity on the immune system, by studying the blood of rats and blue mussels over the course of a prolonged stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The experiments, TripleLux A & TripleLux B, will be transported to the station by consecutive SpaceX commercial resupply missions. It is hoped that the results of the study could potentially inform future treatment options for immune system deficiencies both in space and on Earth.  Read More

Seema Tiwari-Woodruff, associate professor of biomedical sciences at the UC Riverside Scho...

Researchers are zeroing in on what looks like an effective treatment for the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. Teams from UC Riverside and New York's Rockefeller University have both used the same compound, indazole chloride, to successfully reverse the progression of MS in mice. The drug appears to be able to stimulate the regeneration of the myelin sheath – the nerve pathway coating that is progressively destroyed as MS attacks the nervous system.  Read More

Dr. Jake Shortt discovered a common industrial solvent called NMP has anti-cancer properti...

Researchers from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Australia, have found that a N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP), a common solvent used in a wide array of industrial and medical products, has cancer-fighting properties. The discovery came about thanks to an observant researcher, and now the solvent is set to be put to the test in a world-first clinical trial on patients with advanced blood cancer.  Read More

The team constructed a lipid-coated nanodevice that survived the mouse immune system due t...

Researchers from Harvard University's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have developed a cloaked DNA nanodevice capable of evading the body's immune defenses. The design was inspired by real world viruses and could be used to diagnose cancer and better target treatments to specific areas of tissue.  Read More

Researchers have regenerated the thymus in mice, potentially paving the way for regenerati...

It may not be to quite the same level achieved by Victor Frankenstein, but work by a team from the University of Edinburgh is likely to have significant real-world implications in the field of regenerative medicine. For the first time, the team has successfully regenerated a living organ in mice, not by using a jolt of electricity, but by manipulating DNA.  Read More

New technology could allow vaccines to be produced when and where they're needed (Photo: S...

Researchers from the University of Washington have created a vaccine with the potential to make on-demand vaccination cheaper and quicker, using engineered nanoparticles. Tests with mice show definite promise for the technology's use on humans.  Read More

A new approach targets bad bacterai, such as Salmonella (pictured), while leaving good bac...

The increasing prevalence of bacteria resistant to antibiotic drugs is largely blamed on the over prescription and use of such drugs in humans and animals, leading to the evolution of so-called "superbugs." A new antibiotic "smart bomb" that can target specific strains of bacteria could provide the next-generation antibiotic drugs needed to stave off the threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  Read More

A normal nerve cell, with the myelin (brown) intact (Image: Shutterstock)

In multiple sclerosis, the body’s immune system attacks and damages myelin, which is the insulating layer on nerves in the spinal cord, brain and optic nerve. Just as would happen with an electrical cord with compromised insulation, this causes the nerves to short-circuit and cease functioning properly. An international team of scientists, however, have recently reported success in the first phase of clinical trials in which MS victims’ immune systems were conditioned to become much more tolerant of myelin.  Read More

Bacteriophage attacking an infectious bacterium

Though not something people like to ponder, the purpose of mucus as a protective barrier that keeps underlying tissues moist and traps bacteria and other foreign organisms is well known. However, researchers at San Diego State University (SDSU) have now discovered that the surface of mucus is also the site of an independent human immune system that actively protects us from infectious agents in the environment.  Read More

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