Immunology

Doctors in Australia are reporting 61 percent fewer cases of genital warts among young women since the introduction of the national human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination program.

The study reviewed more than a million patient encounters between 2000 and 2012 and found a significant year-on-year reduction in the management rate of genital warts in women aged 15-27 years since the vaccination program started. 

The HPV vaccination program was introduced in 2007, and the rate of genital wart presentation fell dramatically from 4.33 per 1,000 encounters pre-program (2002-2006) to 1.67 per 1,000 encounters in the post-program period (2008-2012).


Dengue is a serious illness diminished in importance in much of the developed world. Some efforts evolve around genetic modification while other efforts work on a vaccine.



Scanning electron micrograph of Ebola virus budding from the surface of a Vero cell (African green monkey kidney epithelial cell line. Credit:NIAID

By Rob Brooks


My social media accounts today are cluttered with stories about “mutating” Ebola viruses. The usually excellent ScienceAlert, for example, rather breathlessly informs us “The Ebola virus is mutating faster in humans than in animal hosts.”

The MERS coronavirus has caused disease outbreaks across the Arabian Peninsula and spread to Europe several times, claiming the lives of several hundred people since its discovery in 2012.

How easily the pathogen spreads from human to human has remained a mystery but recent work shows human transmission is low. Still, a third of infected persons with symptoms die. 


Researchers have developed a potential antibody therapy for Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV), one of the two most lethal strains of Ebola.

 Sudan ebolavirus
was first identified in 1976 and has caused numerous Ebola outbreaks (most recently in 2012) that have killed more than 400 people in total.  
A different strain, the Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV), is now devastating West Africa.


Biofilms are the first line of defense for harmful bacteria and make the treatment of skin infections especially difficult because microorganisms protected in a biofilm have antibiotic resistance and recalcitrance to treatment.

Biofilm-protected bacteria account for some 80 percent of total bacterial infections in humans and are 50 to 1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics than simpler bacterial infections.

 Biofilms often persist in the periphery of an actual wound, beneath an intact, healthy skin layer and the difficulty of their treatment is largely due to the outermost layer of the skin, the stratum corneum, being a natural barrier for drug delivery.


In the 14th century, Venice was in many ways still a world power in its own right. The days when it could topple kingdoms using commerce were behind it, but it was still an important trade destination. In that period, trade meant ports and ports meant the Bubonic Plague in 1347.

When it hit, some tried prayer, some tried hunting vampires, but then officials quickly began to utilize what we would now call resilience management: rather than trying to target a poorly understood risk, state authorities focused on managing physical movement, social interactions, and data collection for the city as a system.


Researchers at
the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases scientists have found that Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection in marmosets closely mimics the severe pneumonia experienced by people infected with MERS-CoV, giving researchers the best animal model yet for testing potential treatments. 

They used marmosets after predicting in computer models that the animals could be infected with MERS-CoV based on the binding properties of the virus.


Thanks to effective vaccination, polio is nearly eradicated and only a few hundred people are stricken worldwide each year.

But researchers in PNAS have reported alarming findings: a mutated virus was able to resist the vaccine protection to a considerable extent in the Congo in 2010. The pathogen could also potentially have infected many people in Germany. 


People allergic to milk often assume they have lactose intolerance, but they are actually different mechanisms that occur in different parts of the body. 

People with lactose intolerance do not digest lactose properly because they lack an enzyme known as lactase - and that results in digestive discomfort.  A cow milk allergy is much more dangerous because the body's immune system attacks milk proteins with its own IgE antibodies.