Immunology

A research group has made a breakthrough discovery which could help thousands of young girls worldwide who are suffering from a rare yet debilitating form of epilepsy. The United States pharmaceutical company Marinus Pharmaceuticals is now recruiting affected girls as part of the world's first clinical trial to test the therapy. 

Professor Jozef Gecz, from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Research Institute, was a key player in identifying the responsible gene and mutations in this female-only epileptic syndrome, in 2008 and has now found a treatment for this disorder.


Flu vaccines can be a shot in the dark - they must they be given yearly and there's no guarantee the strains against which they protect will be the ones circulating once the season arrives. 

New research suggests it may be possible to harness a previously unknown mechanism within the immune system to create more effective and efficient vaccines against this ever-mutating virus.


Every time you put on bug spray this summer, you're another front in the ongoing war between humans and mosquitoes - and being a citizen scientist in a complex evolutionary experiment.

Scientists have found that between 5 and 20 percent of a mosquito population's genome is subject to evolutionary pressures at any given time, creating a strong signature of local adaptation to environment and humans. This means that individual populations are likely to have evolved resistance to whatever local selection pressures are typical in their area, and that understanding the genomes of those populations could one day help inform agencies about which pesticides are likely to be most effective against them.


The 2014-2015 flu vaccine didn't work as well compared to previous years because the H3N2 virus recently acquired a mutation that concealed the infection from the immune system. A study published on June 25 in Cell Reports reveals the major viral mutation responsible for the mismatch between the vaccine strain and circulating strains. The research will help guide the selection of viral strains for future seasonal flu vaccines.


Although we know influenza viruses circulate in temperate, populated parts of Australia every winter, predicting the precise timing and relative intensity of flu seasons is a fraught undertaking.

Children are more likely to have a repeat, delayed anaphylactic reaction from the same allergic cause, depending on the severity of the initial reaction. 

Anaphylaxis is a severe, allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and can result in death. Some children are at risk of delayed ('biphasic') anaphylactic reactions. Delayed reactions occur when the initial symptoms of allergic reaction go away but then return hours or days later without exposure to the initial substance that caused the reaction.


The supplements industry has embraced claims suggesting a link between soy intake and decreased asthma severity,  but a randomized, double-blind study, where half of the participants took a soy isoflavone supplement twice daily for six months, and the other half took a placebo,  found that soy supplements do not improve lung function for patients with asthma. 
Measles needs only a two-dose vaccine during childhood for lifelong immunity while the influenza virus mutates constantly and requires a yearly shot to get even a certain percentage of protection.

What explains that? Surface proteins that the measles virus uses to enter cells are ineffective if they suffer any mutation, meaning that any changes to the virus come at a major cost, according to a new paper.

The diagnosis of the first case of Ebola in Lagos, Nigeria in July last year set off alarm bells around the world. The fear was that it would trigger an apocalyptic epidemic that would make the outbreaks in Liberia, Sierra-Leone and Guinea, where 1322 cases were reported and 728 people had died within five months, pale in comparison.


Investigators found that nearly half of the 50 chicken meat samples purchased from supermarkets, street markets, and butchers in Austria contained viruses that are capable of transferring antibiotic resistance genes from one bacterium to another - or from one species to another. 

"Our work suggests that such transfer could spread antibiotic resistance in environments such as food production units and hospitals and clinics," said corresponding author Friederike Hilbert, DVM.