Malaria is a leading killer in Africa and other developing countries, claiming more than 1 million lives each year, most of them children.
A small clinical trial conducted by an international team of researchers in Mali has found that a candidate malaria vaccine was safe and elicited strong immune responses in the 40 Malian adults who received it.
The trial was the first to test this vaccine candidate, which is designed to block the malaria parasite from entering human blood cells, in a malaria-endemic country. Based on these promising results, the research team is now conducting trials of this vaccine in 400 Malian children aged 1 to 6 years.
Did Columbus and his men introduce the syphilis pathogen into Renaissance Europe after contracting it during their voyage to the New World? Or does syphilis have a much longer history in the Old World?
The most comprehensive comparative genetic analysis conducted on the family of bacteria (the treponemes) that cause syphilis and related diseases such as yaws, published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, supports the so-called “Columbian theory” of syphilis’s origins.
Kristin Harper (Emory University, Atlanta, USA) approached this centuries-old debate by using phylogenetics — the study of the evolutionary relatedness between organisms — to study 26 geographically disparate strains of treponemes.
A new influenza virus discovered in Missouri pigs has a combination of genes from avian and swine flu viruses, supporting the theory that pigs can serve as a mixing vessel for flu viruses and a potential source for a human pandemic strain, according to a report published yesterday.
Researchers found that the virus, an H2N3 subtype, caused illness in experimentally infected mice and was transmissible in swine and ferrets, suggesting it has adapted to mammals, according to the report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). In addition, genetic analysis showed the virus has a mutation linked with an increased ability to infect mammals.
A plentiful ingredient found in human semen drastically enhances the ability of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to cause infection, according to a report in the journal Cell. The findings help to understand the sexual transmission of HIV and suggest a potential new target for preventing the spread of AIDS, the researchers said.
Collaborating research groups in Hannover and Ulm, Germany, show that naturally occurring fragments of so-called prostatic acidic phosphatase (PAP) isolated from human semen form tiny fibers known as amyloid fibrils. Those fibrils capture HIV particles and help them to penetrate target cells, thereby enhancing the infection rate by up to several orders of magnitude.
In two days, December 1st, the media all over the world will be filled again with those pretty red ribbons, at the edge of a newspaper, on the corner of the TV screen, beside the logo of major websites. It is that special day of every year that many people see it, but don’t realize exactly what it means. Young children may even think that this means Christmas is near!
Unfortunately, it is not so. I mean, yes, the Christmas is near, but not for the whole world. The “Red Ribbon” campaign was inspired some years ago as a motto for global awareness against HIV, a very special and very resilient virus that is haunting the medical community since the early ’80s.
An essential component of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) molecular machinery responsible for infecting cells consists of functionally-specialized layers, according to a study by investigators at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Antiviral Research Center (AVRC), published November 23 in PLoS Computational Biology.
The unprecedented genetic diversity and adaptability of HIV-1 has so far foiled the best efforts to eradicate the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. The surface of the HIV-1 particle is studded with protein spikes that allow the virus to enter human cells. This study examined an important component of the protein spike called the third variable loop (labeled “V3”).
A comparison of illness and death rates for 13 vaccine-preventable diseases in the U.S., before and after use of the vaccine, indicates there have been significant decreases in the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths for each of the diseases examined, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Assocation.
In the United States, vaccination programs have made a major contribution to the elimination of many vaccine-preventable diseases and significantly reduced the incidence of others.
“Vaccine-preventable diseases have societal and economic costs in addition to the morbidity and premature deaths resulting from these diseases—the costs include missed time from school and work, physician office visits, and hospitalizations,” the authors write.
There is little substantive evidence that binge drinking while pregnant seriously harms the developing fetus, finds a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
Consistently heavy drinking throughout pregnancy has been associated with birth defects and subsequent neurological problems. But it is not known what impact binge drinking, in the absence of regular heavy drinking, might have. And this drinking pattern is becoming increasingly common, particularly among women, say the authors.
Their findings are based on a comprehensive review of published research on binge drinking and women who were either pregnant or trying to conceive.
Since its discovery 30 years ago, Ebolavirus has struck repeatedly in several epidemics breaking out mainly in Central Africa. Gorillas and chimpanzees are also victims of the violent haemorrhagic fever attacks the virus triggers.
With the aim of understanding more of Ebola’s action mechanisms, scientists collect viral RNA samples from infected individuals at each outbreak. Hitherto it was only possible to analyse genetic sequences isolated from humans. Research scientists from the IRD and the International Medical Research Centre of Franceville in Gabon recently succeeded in mapping virus sequences from samples taken from anthropoid apes.
Researchers at UCSF and the University of Toronto have identified a potential new way of fighting against HIV infection that relies on the remnants of ancient viruses, human endogenous retroviruses (HERV), which have become part of the genome of every human cell.
Mounting evidence suggests that HIV infection could enable HERV expression by disrupting the normal controls that keep HERV in check.
In some HIV-infected individuals, infection fighting T cells are able to target HERV expressing cells.