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The Immune System

An international team of researchers claim to have uncovered how human immune cells remember previously encountered strains of influenza. This discovery may pave the way to the development of a single universal flu shot to immunize people against all strains of the infectious disease for their entire lives.

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One of the body's defenses against deadly cancer cells may have just received a much-needed boost. Researchers at Imperial College London have happened upon a previously unknown protein that ramps up the presence of all-important cytotoxic T cells, which destroy virus-infected and cancerous cells. Read More
A team of MIT researchers has developed a new approach to attacking cancer, creating a method that allows two major branches of the immune system to work together. The new technique, which is known as cancer immunotherapy, has already proved successful in tests on laboratory mice. Read More
Many people assume e-cigarettes are a healthier – or less unhealthy, at least – option than regular cigarettes, resulting in a rapid uptake in recent years. While the long-term effects of e-cigarettes are still unknown, research out of Johns Hopkins University has found that e-cigs may deliver a false sense of security along with their nicotine hit. Read More
The skin is the body's first line of defense against infection, with an extensive network of skin-based immune cells responsible for detecting the presence of foreign invaders. However, in addition to pathogens, an immune response can be triggered by allergens or even our own cells, resulting in unwanted inflammation and allergies. Researchers have now shed new light on the way the immune system in our skin works, paving the way for future improvements in tackling infections, allergies and autoimmune diseases. Read More
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
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
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
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
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
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