Immunology

The largest investigation to-date has found a dramatic increase in the number of hospitalizations for children with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) during the past decade in the United States. But does that mean there are actually more cases?


In the fall of 2012, the European Medicines Agency approved the modified adeno-associated virus AAV-LPL S447X as the first ever gene therapy for clinical use in the Western world.

AAV-LPL S447X was developed for the treatment of a rare inherited metabolic disease called lipoprotein lipase deficiency which affects approximately 1-2 out of 1,000,000 people. Though incredibly rare, the disease causes severe, life-threatening inflammations of the pancreas. Afflicted individuals carry a defect in the gene coding for the lipoprotein lipase enzyme which is necessary for breakdown of fatty acids. AAV-LPLS447X shall be used as a viral vector to deliver an intact gene copy to affected cells.


A team of researchers has identified a highly promising new anti-tuberculosis compound that attacks the tuberculosis (TB) bacterium in two different ways.

Although isoniazid and rifampin, two front-line TB drugs, came into use in 1952 and 1967 respectively, new TB infections still occur at the rate of roughly one per second. At any moment about a third of the existing human population is infected. Though it is mostly winactive, latent TB, active TB still kills over one million people each year, with Russia, Africa, China and Southeast Asia especially hard hit.


Gout is a painful rheumatic condition. It occurs when uric acid, a bodily waste product, crystallizes in joints and soft tissues. Gout is often associated with the big toe, but that turns out to be unfair; patients at highest risk of further flare-ups are those whose gout first involved other joints, such as a knee or elbow, according to new research.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has lifted the clinical hold previously placed on a proposed Phase II study of SparVax, a next generation recombinant anthrax vaccine, PharmAthene, Inc. announced.

The clinical hold was enacted in August 2012, prior to the commencement of a proposed Phase II clinical trial of SparVax. In its notification to the Company, the FDA requested that PharmAthene provide additional stability data for both its engineering and GMP lots of U.S. manufactured Final Drug Product, as well as additional information about the intended stability indicating assays. 
The human intestinal tract is the home of a diverse array of bacterial colonies, settling in as soon as their host begins life. While these colonies were considered to merely coexist with the host for their own survival, decades of study have shown the interaction between bacteria and host is mutually beneficial.  The bacterial colonies benefit by finding their home in the host, while the host benefits from the bacteria’s ability to keep the intestinal tract healthy, specifically by aiding in the absorption of nutrients, and by preventing disease-causing bacteria from taking root.
A year after the 2009 human H1N1 pandemic began, researchers detected the H1N1 virus in free-ranging northern elephant seals off the central California coast. It is the first report of that flu strain in any marine mammal.

H1N1 originated in pigs. It emerged in humans in 2009, spreading worldwide as a pandemic. The World Health Organization now considers the H1N1 strain from 2009 to be under control, taking on the behavior of a seasonal virus.

A map of avian influenza (H7N9) risk is now available. The map is comprised of bird migration patterns, and adding in estimations of poultry production and consumption, which are used to infer future risk and to advise on ways to prevent infection.

As of today, there have been 127 confirmed cases of H7N9 in mainland China with 27 deaths. A lack of information about the virus and its mode of transmission has led to public concerns that H7N9 could be a pandemic waiting to happen.


Genital warts prevalence in Australian women plummeted 59% since a nationally funded quadrivalent human papillomarivus (HPV) vaccination program
 for teen and pre-teen girls was introduced in 2007, says a paper in BMJ.


Type 2 diabetes has a strong hereditary component, and while we can't change the genes we were born with, if epigenetics says a father eating a Twinkie before conception can lead to bad grades for the child in high school, why can't we modify the function of the genes through the epigenetic changes that take place in the course of life?