Immunology

Blood clots may be a good thing - at least in protecting the body from the deadly effects of bacteria by absorbing bacterial toxins, according to a new paper in PLoS ONE.

Even with modern antibiotics, septic shock from bacterial infections afflicts about 300,000 people a year in the U.S., with a mortality rate of 30 to 50 percent. Septic shock is caused by Gram-negative bacteria, which release a toxin called lipopolysaccharide or endotoxin. In small amounts, lipopolysaccharide triggers inflammation. When infections with these bacteria get out of hand, lipopolysaccharide courses through the bloodstream, causing catastrophic damage to organs and tissues.

Almost 90 percent of children and adults with a highly aggressive form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) showed no evidence of cancer after receiving a personalized cell therapy that reprograms a patient's immune system.

In pilot studies of bio-engineered T cells that attack leukemia, 24 of 27 patients (89%) experienced complete responses within 28 days after treatment. In all, 27 patients received the treatment - 22 children treated at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and five adults treated at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.


Epidemiologists are saying exposure to air pollution appears to increase the risk for autism among people who carry a certain genotype genetic disposition for the neurodevelopmental disorder, a functional promoter variant (rs1858830) in the MET receptor tyrosine kinase (MET) gene.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disability characterized by problems with social interaction, communication and repetitive behaviors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 88 children in the United States has an ASD and there are recent claims that it is highly heritable, which would suggest that genetics are an important contributing factor, but many questions about its causes remain. There currently is no cure for the disorder.


Gout, historically known as 'the king of diseases and the disease of kings' because it primarily happened to people with indulgent lifestyles, may have a genetic component after all, according to a new paper in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Gout is a kind of inflammatory arthritis, with sudden onset of acute pain, redness and swelling in peripheral joints, most commonly the joint in the big toe. It is caused by the deposition of monosodium urate crystals, which is related to high uric acid in the blood. The resulting acute arthritis and lumps around the joint cause disability due to pain and loss of joint function.There is some evidence that gout is also associated with major cardiovascular (heart attack, stroke) and renal diseases (kidney failure).


People who get migraine headaches and also battle allergies and hay fever (rhinitis) endure a more severe form of headaches than their peers who struggle with migraines but aren't affected by the seasonal or year-round sniffles, according to a new paper in Cephalalgia.

About 12 percent of the U.S. population experiences migraine headaches and women get them three times more often than men. Allergies and hay fever — allergic rhinitis — are quite common as well, affecting up to a quarter to half of the U.S. population. They produce symptoms such as a stuffy and runny nose, post nasal drip and itching of the nose.  


Using advanced methodologies that pit drug compounds against specific types of malaria parasite cells, an international team of scientists have identified a potential new weapon and approach for attacking the parasites that cause malaria.  

The disease is caused by Plasmodium parasites, which are transmitted to humans by the infectious bite of an Anopheles mosquito. Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum are the most problematic of the parasite species. The former is the most widespread globally; the latter most deadly.


In drug design, the protein K-Ras has been on everyone's target list for more than 30 years due to its status as the most commonly mutated oncogene in human cancers.

Despite its high profile, K-Ras has been "undruggable" - many pharmaceutical, biotech, and academic laboratories have failed to design a drug that successfully targets the mutant gene.


New therapeutic targets and drugs may someday benefit people with certain types of leukemia or blood cancer.

Pre-clinical and pharmacological models found that cancer cells with a mutation in the KIT receptor -- an oncogenic/cancerous form of the receptor -- in mast cell leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia can be stopped.


Researchers have managed to measure the internal pressure that enables the herpes virus to infect cells in the human body, a discovery which paves the way for the development of new medicines to combat viral infections and indicates ways to stop herpes infections in the future.


Reports of a new hepatitis virus earlier this year were a false alarm, according to U.C. San Francisco researchers who correctly identified the virus as a contaminant present in a type of glassware used in many research labs.

The finding highlights both the promise and peril of today’s powerful “next-generation” lab techniques that are used to track down new agents of disease.