Immunology

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.  


A number of recent studies have reported on the use of biomarkers, particularly blood-based ones, that offer the potential for screening diseases such as cancer and HIV.

A biomarker can be a gene, a gene mutation, protein, other molecule or clinical measurement that indicates a given disease state.

Biomarkers can be diagnostics (telling us of the presence of a given disease), prognostic (telling us of the outcome for a patient with a particular disease) and predictive (telling us of the response of an individual to a given therapy). The latter has led to the rise of so-called personalised or precision medicine.

Southern Indiana is an oasis free from Lyme disease, the condition most associated with the arachnids that are the second most common parasitic disease vector on Earth.

But there are signs that this low-risk environment is changing, both in Indiana and in other regions of the U.S, says Indiana University biology professor Keith Clay.  Lyme disease has been detected just a few hours north of the region around Tippecanoe River State Park and Lake Michigan's Indiana Dunes, and Clay said the signs are there that new tick species, and possibly the pathogens they carry, are entering the area. 


Many of us take a healthy immune system for granted. But for certain infants with rare, inherited mutations of certain genes, severe infection and death are stark consequences of their impaired immune responses.

Now, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center have identified an important role for calcium signaling in immune responses to chronic infection resulting from Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium causing tuberculosis. 


Citizen science, where the public pitches in to make large-scale analyses of data possible, has successfully predicted the path of a deadly plant disease, Sudden Oak Death, over a six-year period. 

The disease has killed millions of oak and tanoak trees in California and Oregon and can infect more than 100 susceptible host plants and can spread from nursery stock to residential landscapes. Starting in 2008, 1,000 volunteers collected leaf samples from trees in metropolitan and urban-wildland areas. 


Rates of infection with the deadly superbug Clostridium difficile were highest in the Northeast region of the country and in the spring season over the last 10 years, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Texas retrospectively analyzed 2.3 million cases of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) from 2001-2010 and found the highest incidence in the Northeast (8.0 CDI discharges/1000 total discharges), followed by the Midwest (6.4/1000), South (5.0/1000), and the West (4.8/1000).

Seasonally, spring had the most cases (6.2 CDI discharges/1000 total discharges), followed by winter (5.9/1000), summer (5.9/1000) and fall (5.6/1000). Adults and older adults followed overall trends, whereas pediatric CDI was highest in winter.

Researchers have described the role of the calcium sensing receptor (CaSR) in causing asthma, a disease which affects 300 million people worldwide, by using mouse models of asthma and human airway tissue from asthmatic and non-asthmatic people.


New ophthalmology research finds that dry eye - the little understood culprit behind red, watery, gritty feeling eyes - strikes most often in spring, just as airborne allergens are surging, the first direct correlation between seasonal allergens and dry eye, with both pollen and dry eye cases reaching a yearly peak in the month of April.