Immunology

Researchers have discovered a new bat SARS-like virus that can jump directly from its bat hosts to humans without mutation.

The discovery reported in Nature Medicine is notable not only because there is no treatment for this newly discovered virus, but also because it highlights an ongoing debate over the Obama administration's decision to ban all gain of function experiments on a variety of select agents earlier this year. In the previous administration, even a limitation on federal funding for some types of science was decried as a ban but another actual ban has only gotten a muted response - yet this ban has actual implications because puts a halt to the development of vaccines or treatments for these pathogens should there be an outbreak.  

Deep within your DNA, a tiny parasite called a LINE-1 retrotransposon lurks, waiting to pounce from its perch and land in the middle of an unsuspecting healthy gene. If it succeeds, it can make you sick. Like a jungle cat, this parasite sports a long tail but little was known about what role that tail plays in this dangerous jumping. 

Many patients with serious diseases are not helped by their medications because treatment is started too late. An international research team led from Linköping University is launching a unique strategy for discovering a disease progression in its earliest phase.

The study, to be published in Science Translational Medicine, has been led by Professor Mikael Benson and Dr Mika Gustafsson at the Centre for Individualized Medication (CIMed).

"We're addressing one of the biggest problems in healthcare, one that leads to a great deal of suffering and enormous costs in terms of drugs and drug development. An important reason for this is that treatment is often not started until the patient has enough symptoms for a diagnosis using conventional methods," says Prof Benson.

Chagas disease, the third most common parasitic infection in the world, affects approximately 7.5 million people, mostly in Latin America. To help reduce outbreaks of this disease in their countries, the United States and Mexican governments should implement a range of programs as well as fund research for the development of Chagas vaccines and treatments, according to a new policy brief.

Pregnant women and new mothers are inundated with messages regarding the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding for babies in the first year of life and if you don't do that, shame on you for giving your child asthma, food allergies and eczema.

The HIV epidemic among gay men in the Netherlands isn't going to decline as long as large, persistent, self-sustaining, and, in many cases, growing sub-epidemics shifting towards new generations of gay men, according to a new paper in PLOS Medicine by Daniela Bezemer from HIV Monitoring Foundation, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Anne Cori from Imperial College London, UK, and colleagues.

Scientists call them toxins but these bacterial proteins don't poison us, at least not directly. Instead, they restrain the growth of the bacteria that make them, establishing a dormant "persister cell" state that is tolerant to antibiotics.

Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine have obtained precise pictures showing how a toxin protein, called HigB, recognizes and rips up RNA as part of its growth-inhibition function. Their findings could lead to a better understanding of the formation of persister cells and how they maintain themselves.

In 2014, one person confirmed with Ebola set off a panic in the United States. Though 28,000 people died of heart disease while media attention focused on that outbreak, and anti-vaccine parents on the West Coast were suddenly prepared to spend any amount of money to get their kids immunized against it, what happened with pandemic preparation after the fear subsided was...not much.

The fact is, we tend not to think about disaster preparedness unless disaster is already upon us. This makes some sense, of course, because people may be hungry right now so there isn't much point to spending money worrying about a volcano - but pandemics are so devastating and so rapid in their effects that it almost demands there be some level of preparedness.

A new study has found that nearly half of camels in parts of Kenya have been infected by the virus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and calls for further research into the role they might play in the transmission of this emerging disease to humans.

MERS was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and there is currently no vaccine or specific treatment available. To date, it has infected 1,595 people in more than 20 countries and caused 571 deaths. Although the majority of human cases of MERS have been attributed to human-to-human infections, camels are likely to be a major reservoir host for the virus and an animal source of MERS infection in humans.

Plotting on a grid just how a chicken walks may one day give farmers more insight into how best to protect their flock from non-airborne pathogens that can also hurt their profit.