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.
June 28, 2013 |
A "reverse vaccine" that allows people with Type 1 diabetes to produce their own insulin has passed its first test with human subjects, according to a new study. The success points to a potential new strategy for treating those in the early stages of the disease, experts said. The therapy is designed to protect cells in the pancreas that make insulin, a hormone the body needs to convert sugars and starches into energy. In people with Type 1 diabetes, the immune system goes haywire and attacks those crucial insulin-producing cells for reasons that medical researchers don't understand.
April 15, 2013 |
Circumcision is known to reduce a man's risk of HIV infection by at least half, but scientists don't know why. A new study offers support for the theory that removing the foreskin deprives troublesome bacteria of a place to live, leaving the immune system in much better shape to keep the human immunodeficiency virus at bay. Anyone who has ever lifted a rock and watched as the earth beneath it was quickly vacated by legions of bugs and tiny worms...