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The Immune System

A new understanding of the immune system may be paving the way for the development of a va...

Most people probably know that plaque buildup in the arteries surrounding the heart is one of the major causes of heart disease. The reason that the plaque does accumulate, however, is often due to an inflammation of the artery walls. Recently, scientists from California’s La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology were able to identify the type of immune cells responsible for that inflammation. With this knowledge in hand, they now hope to be able to develop a vaccine for heart disease.  Read More

Researchers have found a way to block addiction to various opioid drugs, including heroin ...

Unlike the heroin-specific vaccine we covered last year, an international team of scientists from the University of Adelaide in Australia and the University of Colorado Boulder has now found a way to block addiction to various opioid drugs, including heroin and morphine. Importantly, the new approach doesn’t negatively affect the pain-relieving properties of these drugs.  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

A single dose of a new nicotine vaccine could provide lifetime protection from the pleasur...

Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College have developed a vaccine that could help existing smokers quit for good and prevent those yet to try cigarettes from ever becoming addicted. The vaccine turns the recipient’s kidney into a factory continuously churning out antibodies that clear the bloodstream of nicotine before it has a chance to reach the brain and deliver it’s addictive rush. Unlike previously tested nicotine vaccines that only last a few weeks, the effects of a single dose of this new vaccine should last a lifetime.  Read More

Scientists have developed a method of duplicating an individual person's unique immune sys...

Because everyone’s immune system is different, it’s impossible to predict with absolute certainty how any given person will react to a specific medication. In the not-too-distant future, however, at-risk patients may get their own custom-altered mouse, with an immune system that’s a copy of their own. Medications could be tried out on the mouse first, and if it showed no adverse reactions, then the person could receive them. If the person had an autoimmune disease, the mouse could also provide valuable insight into its treatment. A team led by Columbia University Medical Center’s Dr. Megan Sykes has recently developed a method of creating just such a “personalized immune mouse.”  Read More

Disks made from cocoons of the tasar silkworm may find use as patches for regrowing cardia...

Although people do regularly recover from heart attacks, the heart itself never entirely “gets better.” This is because cardiac muscle tissue doesn’t regenerate – any that dies in the event of a heart attack will only be replaced with inactive scar tissue, and the heart’s performance will be permanently compromised as a result. Scientists have responded by trying to develop heart patches made of materials that act as nanoscale scaffolds, upon which new cardiomyocytes (heart cells) can grow. Materials used for these scaffolds have included fibrin, nanofiber, gold nanowires and polymer. Now, new research is suggesting that silkworm silk may be a better choice than any of those.  Read More

Left: Natural control mechanism blocks the enzyme's zinc active site Right: Novel antibody...

Researchers of Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science have achieved a significant new development which may have far reaching implications for the treatment of autoimmune diseases which attack the body's own tissue by mistake. The scientists have managed to convince the immune systems of mice to instead attack an enzyme significant to the body's autoimmune process known as matrix metallopeptidase 9 (MMP9).  Read More

Using an approach already used to treat autoimmune diseases, researchers have manged to tu...

A few years ago I was rushed to hospital suffering anaphylaxis after eating a satay in peanut sauce. Although I'd previously experienced an itchy throat from eating nuts, I didn't realize at the time that this was an allergic reaction that could actually kill me. Luckily, friends got me to the hospital where I was shot full of adrenalin and everything was fine but, unfortunately, this is not always the result for many allergy sufferers. Now researchers have managed to rapidly turn off the allergic response to peanuts in mice by tricking the immune system into thinking the nut proteins aren't a threat.  Read More

Dr Marc Pellegrini (left) and Mr Simon Preston, from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute i...

Australian scientists may have discovered a vital key to curing HIV and other immune related illnesses by boosting the body’s immune response. A team of researchers led by Dr. Marc Pellegrini from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, successfully cured a HIV-like infection from mice by boosting the function of cells vital to their immune system.  Read More

The MGH microfluidic neutrophil-capturing device

Recently, researchers have come to realize that neutrophils – the most abundant type of white blood cell – play a key role in both chronic and acute inflammation, and in the activation of the immune system in response to injury. Of course, the best way to study neutrophils is to get a hold of some, but traditional methods have required relatively large blood samples, and take up to two hours. Because neutrophils are sensitive to handling, it is also possible to inadvertently activate them, which alters their molecular patterns. A microfluidic device developed at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), however, allows for neutrophils to be collected from a relatively small blood sample, unactivated, in just minutes.  Read More

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