October 31, 2013 |
The search for an HIV vaccine has taken an important step forward after researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla managed to capture molecular images of a protein spike that allows the deadly virus to invade human immune cells to hack their genetic code. The ability to control and analyze that shape-shifting envelope trimer protein, which has evaded the best efforts of biochemistry for more than a decade, could offer researchers the ability to see whether they can induce natural antibodies to attack the virus' most vulnerable spot, a crucial step toward engineering a vaccine.
October 28, 2013 |
German doctors have successfully implanted insulin-producing cells in a patient with Type 1 diabetes using a specially constructed chamber system that does not require the use of immunosuppresant drugs, according to a new study. In a paper published Monday in the journal PNAS, researchers said the islets, or clusters of cells, remained alive for 10 months and were not rejected by the 56-year-old patient's immune system. However, the implantation offered only moderate health improvements and requires further refinement.
October 11, 2013 |
Fall is in the air and so, alas, are zillions of grains of weed pollen, sailing hither and yon, high and low, far and wide. These guarantee an abundance of new little weeds next year - and an abundance of sniffy, sneezy, wheezy people right now, namely those unfortunate souls who have an allergy to pollen. Pollen allergy is often called "hay fever," although it doesn't cause fever and its only connection with hay is that it inflicts its woes at hay-harvesting time. The name "seasonal allergic rhinitis" - where "rhinitis" refers to an inflamed nose - is more accurate if less evocative.
August 22, 2013 |
Nothing gets our attention like pain. But pain is more than the body's miniature cattle prod to get us to heed a wound, rest a swollen ankle, or stop eating chili peppers. Pain may be the language between animals and microbes. Far from being a product of an inflamed immune system, aggravated nerves far from the spine and brain appear to communicate with invading bacteria and regulate the fight against them, according to a study published online Wednesday in the journal Nature.
August 10, 2013 |
During a recent vacation, we met friends at a neighborhood hangout for dinner. As we walked in, I became worried -- one sniff confirmed that a fish fry was taking place. After informing our server that I'm allergic to fish (also peanuts), she recommended the nachos. When I lifted the first forkful, the chips were sizzling. I asked the server if, by any chance, the chips had been deep-fried in the same oil as the fish? "Oops," she said, and whisked away the plate. Oops, indeed.
July 10, 2013 |
An immune system that ensures survival is one of the earliest gifts from a mother to her child. But sometimes, that gift can be a Trojan horse, sending soldiers that are programmed to attack the body's own antigens into the fetus, where they interfere with brain development. The result is maternal autoantibody related (MAR) autism, which may account for as much as 23% of the cases of that spectrum of brain disorders. Now UC Davis researchers believe they have found the targets of these maternal autoantibodies, a potential step in the path toward preventive treatment for women contemplating pregnancy.