Immunology

Scientists have identified a genetic mutation responsible for a rare form of inherited hives induced by vibration, also known as vibratory urticaria. Running, hand clapping, towel drying or even taking a bumpy bus ride can cause temporary skin rashes in people with this rare disorder. By studying affected families, researchers discovered how vibration promotes the release of inflammatory chemicals from the immune system's mast cells, causing hives and other allergic symptoms. 


Cover your coughs in the Carolinas and don't double dip in Denver, because when your team is in the Super Bowl, health can wait.

A new paper in the American Journal of Health Economics found cities with teams in the Super Bowl see a rise in flu deaths. That's right, deaths. 

Lead author Charles Stoecker of Tulane University School of Public Health along with economists Alan Barreca of Tulane and Nicholas Sanders of Cornell University looked at county-level statistics from 1974-2009. The researchers found having a team in the Super Bowl resulted in an average 18 percent increase in flu deaths among those over 65 years old, a population more vulnerable to serious complications from influenza.


Raw cow's milk has a higher content of Omega-3 fatty acids than does pasteurized, homogenized or low-fat milk, and epidemiologists are saying this explains why children who consume unpasteurized milk are less likely to develop asthma.


Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System report data suggesting that e-cigarettes are toxic to human airway cells, suppress immune defenses and alter inflammation, while at the same time boosting bacterial virulence. The mouse study is published January 25 by the Journal of Molecular Medicine.


A new study shows how dangerous autoimmune responses, seen in diseases such as lupus and multiple sclerosis, might be "dialed down" without compromising the immune system's ability to fight viruses and bacteria. 

The new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences defines a mechanism at work in an anti-autoimmune drug candidate called ozanimod, currently in advanced phase 3 clinical trials for multiple sclerosis and ulcerative colitis.


A new position statement goes contrary to the consensus and finds that the introduction of gluten into the infant diet, or the practice of introducing gluten during breast-feeding, does not reduce the risk of celiac disease in infants at risk. The statement appears in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.


Imagine a virus so serious the government recommends that women stop getting pregnant.

It exists, and it is now in Brazil, which is a big concern as the Olympics approaches. The Zika virus, native to parts of Africa and Asia, has been spreading locally among people who have not traveled abroad. There is no vaccine against the virus or antiviral treatment.

Zika is generally a mild illness, spread by a day-biting mosquito. However, there is a worrisome, but as of yet unproven, association of infected mothers in Brazil giving birth to babies with small heads and underdeveloped brains, Dr. Khan said. There has been a 20-fold increase in the number of babies born with this condition, known as microcephaly, since Zika first appeared in Brazil in May 2015.


Mosquitoes have always been a critical vector in the spread of multiple infectious diseases to humans. Perhaps the two most historically important examples are yellow fever and malaria. Now, a new viral scourge has reared its ugly head, in Brazil, where babies are plagued with shrinking brains and undersized skulls.

The virus that causes yellow fever is in the same family as hepatitis C. The disease was so prevalent and dangerous that it derailed the construction of the Panama Canal — a nearly impossible job under ideal conditions. The Canal Project was initiated by the French in 1881.

The bacterium Bacillus cereus had so far been considered to be exclusively endospore-forming. In response to harsh conditions, the bacteria form protective endospores enabling them to remain dormant for extended periods, then they reactivate to become fully functioning bacteria when conditions are favorable again.

While the rapid emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has prompted the medical community and media to educate the public to the dangers of misusing and overusing antibiotics but there may be more to the problem than medications - an ecologist is finding a way to blame nuclear research from the 1950s, good timing as environmentalists have declared open war on 'green' scientists who support nuclear energy as the most viable alternative to fossil fuels.