Immunology

In 2012 the US saw a resurgence of pertussis (whooping cough) cases. the highest since 1955. Like in engineering, the reason a small increase in anti-science beliefs can lead to a big change in the number of cases comes down to degrees of freedom and the math of networks.


The likelihood of being bitten by mosquitoes could be linked to our genes, according to a recent study. Previous papers have suggested that human attractiveness to insects is based on differences in body odor or diet but there has been no clear and consistent dietary explanation. 


For me, it was hornets.

One summer afternoon when I was 12, I ran into an overgrown field near a friend’s house and kicked a hornet nest the size of a football. An angry squadron of insects clamped onto my leg; their stings felt like scorching needles. I swatted the hornets away and ran for help, but within minutes I realized something else was happening. A constellation of pink stars had appeared around the stings. The hives swelled, and new ones began appearing farther up my legs. I was having an allergic reaction.

A study of disease dynamics in a California grassland has shed light on fundamental principles underlying the spread of pathogens among species, according to researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz who measured the amount of disease on the leaves of plants in a meadow on campus.

They found that the amount of disease on each species depended on how common it was, as well as on the abundance of its close relatives. The results were a tight link between the structure of a plant community and the vulnerability of individual species to disease. In addition, when the researchers introduced novel plant species into the grassland, they were able to predict which ones would be most strongly affected by naturally occurring diseases. 


Western dietary guidelines support the consumption of dairy but how much of the specific ratios is cultural versus evidence-based has always been a debate.

One thing that has never been debate is if there is anything special about yogurt. Though it has become increasingly popular due to marketing claims about "probiotics" there is no evidence any of it is true, nor is it helping with any of the physical and mental parameters analyzed in a new study of 4,445 Spanish adults.

Scientists at the Vetmeduni Vienna investigated whether stomach ulcers in cattle are related to the presence of certain bacteria. For their study, they analyzed bacteria present in healthy and ulcerated cattle stomachs and found very few differences in microbial diversity. Bacteria therefore appear to play a minor role in the development of ulcers.

The microbial diversity present in the stomachs of cattle has now been published.


Macrophages destroy bacteria by engulfing them in intracellular compartments, which they then acidify to kill or neutralize the bacteria.

Some pathogenic bacteria, such as Salmonella enterica, have evolved to exist and even grow within these acidified compartments. Yet, how Salmonella responds to the acidic environment and how that environment affects the virulence of this pathogen are unclear. New research reveals that Salmonella fights acid with acid, by lowering the pH of its own interior in response to the acidification of the Salmonella-containing compartment by the macrophage, and by using that low pH as a signal to turn on genes needed to establish an infection.


A newly discovered protein plays a central role in promoting immunity to viruses and cancer, according to experiments in mice and human cells.

 The hitherto unknown protein, which the researchers named lymphocyte expansion molecule, or LEM, modulates the proliferation of human T cells as well as in mice, by promoting the proliferation of cytotoxic T cells, which kill cancer cells and cells infected with viruses.

The discovery was unexpected because the new protein had no known function and doesn't resemble any other protein. Researchers from Imperial College London who led the study are now developing a gene therapy designed to boost the infection-fighting cells, and hope to begin human trials in three years. 
A new study demonstrates that macrophages can effectively substitute for so-called dendritic cells as primers of T-cell-dependent immune responses. They instead stimulate a broader-based response.

The immune response, the process by which the adaptive immune system reacts to, and eliminates foreign substances and cells, depends on a complex interplay between several different cell types. So-called dendritic cells, which recognize and internalize invasive pathogens, play a crucial role in this process.

A systematic review of the genomes of patients with ALK-negative anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a particularly aggressive form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, shows that many cases of the disease are driven by alterations in the JAK/STAT3 cell signaling pathway. The study also demonstrates, in mice implanted with human-derived ALCL tumors, that the disease can be inhibited by compounds that target this pathway, raising hopes that more effective treatments might soon be developed.