Immunology

A bovine TB control strategy under consideration risks spreading the disease rather than supressing it, according to researchers who predict that culling badgers which test positive for TB could increase the movement of remaining badgers, potentially infecting more cattle with the disease.


Liver cancer is among the fastest-growing and deadliest cancers in the United States with a 17 percent three-year survival rate. Vaccines help direct the immune system to attack invaders by showing it a representative substance, called an antigen, that the body will recognize as foreign, in this case,  Alpha-Fetoprotein (AFP) – normally expressed during development and by liver cancer cells. 

AFP is expressed by about 80 percent of most common liver cancer cells but not typically by healthy adults. For cancer to flourish, cells must revert to an immature state, called dedifferentiation, which is why liver cancer cells express a protein during development and why the immune system can recognize AFP as "self."


There is a joke among abortion proponents that if men could get pregnant, abortion clinics would be more common on city streets than Starbucks coffee shops. If that is so, the best way to get something done about insects in developing nations would be to send environmentalists there.  Sitting in cozy western offices, it is easy to rail against DDT and genetic modification but the first time a Union of Concerned Scientists fundraiser gets dengue fever they would be all for science solutions to mosquitoes.


The germ Helicobacter pylori is the cause of most stomach ulcers, but a new review of the literature published in Alimentary Pharmacology&Therapeutics suggests that treating the bacteria is linked to weight gain.


Snakebite is one of the most neglected of all tropical diseases, with nearly 5 million people bitten by snakes each year and fatalities globally up to 30 times higher than that of land mines and comparable to AIDS in some developing countries. It has been estimated that more than 75 percent of snakebite victims who die do so before they ever reach the hospital so a new approach may dramatically reduce the number of global snakebite fatalities, currently estimated to be as high as 94,000 per year. 

Such a fast, accessible, and easy-to-administer treatment for venomous snakebite may be coming. Not soon, the regulatory process allows no shortcuts and clinical trials are expensive, but it is in the works. 


Researchers have devised a way to watch newly forming AIDS virus particles emerge or "budd" from infected human cells.

They have also found that a protein named ALIX gets involved during the final stages of virus replication, not earlier, as was believed previously.


Zinc supplements reduce diarrhea, one of the biggest killers of kids under five, and other infections in malnourished children, according to a review in The Cochrane Library. 

Zinc is a micronutrient with important roles in growth and in the immune, nervous and reproductive systems. The human body cannot make it, so it has to come from our diet. It is estimated that more than 1 in 6 people globally are deficient in zinc and that around 1 in every 58 deaths in children under five is related to zinc deficiency. Zinc deficiency is common in Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Latin America.


Gluten-free fads are all the rage and a preliminary result by reseachers at the University of Copenhagen want to see if there are health benefits for people who don't have celiac disease.

Their experiments on found that mouse mothers on a gluten-free diet led to pups less likely to  develop type 1 diabetes. There's no reason to start paying 242% more for your food just yet.


The Bubonic Plague wiped put a giant swath of the affected populations, it was truly an Old Testament wrath-of-God phenomenon - but it also led to a wave of agricultural innovation and the creation of a middle class (How The Bubonic Plague Made Europe Great).

It also did what folklore says about things that don't kill you - it made us a little stronger.


One of the foremost biomedical mysteries of the past century is the origin of the 1918 pandemic flu virus and its unusual severity, which resulted in a death toll of approximately 50 million people. 

A new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) sheds light on the devastating 1918 pandemic and suggests that the types of flu viruses to which people were exposed during childhood may predict how susceptible they are to future strains, which could inform vaccination strategies and pandemic prevention and preparedness.