Immunology

It's not new that dwellers and cities are a little less hearty than rural cousins. There is even a hygiene hypothesis that says kids in the country get dirtier to their benefit and that wealthy, educated helicopter parenting and all those hand sanitizers and antibacterial soaps are doing more harm than good.

Allergies and numerous autoimmune diseases, such as asthma and type 1 diabetes, have become more common in the past 50 years, especially in urban environments. The belief is this is caused by urban issues like pollutants from human activities, a higher level of hygiene and the reduced biological diversity of the city living environment.
Maybe fat gets a bad rap. Immune responses matter but when it comes to skin infections, those response may depend greatly upon what lies beneath, according to a paper published in Science. Fat cells below the skin help protect us from bacteria, they write.

Richard Gallo, MD, PhD, professor and chief of dermatology at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and colleagues have uncovered a previously unknown role for dermal fat cells, known as adipocytes: They produce antimicrobial peptides that help fend off invading bacteria and other pathogens.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection has gotten a lot of attention. It is caused by a strain of staph bacteria that's become resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to fight it, but antibiotic resistance is not new. For as long as antibiotics have been manufactured (and nature shows evidence of it well before that) resistance evolves. 

Science has to stay a step ahead in the interests of public health and a new paper details a newly discovered antibiotic that eliminates pathogens without encountering any detectable resistance, which holds great promise for treating chronic infections like tuberculosis and those caused by MRSA. 


Cholera is characterized by acute watery diarrhea resulting in severe dehydration and occurs  when the bacterium Vibrio cholerae infects the small intestine.

How does it happen? 


Elderly patients admitted to intensive care units are about 35 percent more likely to die within five years of leaving the hospital if they develop an infection during their stay.

The upside to this finding is that preventing two of the most common health care-associated infections - bloodstream infections caused by central lines and pneumonia caused by ventilators - can increase the odds that these patients survive and reduce the cost of their care by more than $150,000, according to a study in American Journal of Infection Control. 


Folk wisdom has long held that people are more likely to catch a cold in cool-weather or damp conditions but some recent claims have disputed that and found the virus transmits just as often regardless of temperature.  This has been latched onto by people who advocate less energy usage in order to minimize fossil fuel usage.

But the rhinovirus, the most frequent cause of the common cold, can reproduce itself more efficiently in the cooler temperatures found inside the nose than at core body temperature, according to a new study. That means cold is bad. 


Cold and damp is bad, no matter what you may have heard recently about it making no difference. The common cold virus reproduces itself more efficiently in the cooler temperatures found inside the nose than at core body temperature, confirming the popular-yet-recently-contested notion that people are more likely to catch a cold in cool, damp conditions. 

Scientifically it is known that the rhinovirus, the  most frequent cause of the common cold, replicates more readily in the slightly cooler environment of the nasal cavity than in the warmer lungs but, the focus of prior studies has been on how body temperature influenced the virus as opposed to the immune system, said study senior author and Yale professor of immunobiology Akiko Iwasaki. 

The enzyme signal peptide peptidase-like 3 (SPPL3) is known to 'cut' proteins - they cleave the peptide bonds in the polypeptides that make up proteins - but it turns out that it works to activate T-cells, the immune system's foot soldiers - without cutting proteins. 

Because its structure is similar to that of presenilin enzymes, which have been implicated in Alzheimer's disease, the researchers believe their findings could shed more light on presenilin functions, in addition to providing new insight into how the immune system is controlled.


The most recent outbreak of the Ebola virus disease occurring in West Africa may have originated from contact between humans and virus-infected bats, according to a new study in EMBO Molecular Medicine, which identifies insectivorous free-tailed bats as plausible reservoirs and expands the range of possible Ebola virus sources to this type of bats.

The virus that spread from Meliandou into other areas of Guinea and Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal, represents the largest ever-recorded Ebola outbreak killing 7,800 people as of December 17th 2014. 


Binge drinking in young, healthy adults significantly disrupts the immune system, according to a new epidemiology paper.