Immunology

One of the foremost biomedical mysteries of the past century is the origin of the 1918 pandemic flu virus and its unusual severity, which resulted in a death toll of approximately 50 million people. 

A new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) sheds light on the devastating 1918 pandemic and suggests that the types of flu viruses to which people were exposed during childhood may predict how susceptible they are to future strains, which could inform vaccination strategies and pandemic prevention and preparedness. 


Researchers writing in
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
have identified natural human antibodies against the virus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a step toward developing treatments for the newly emerging and often-fatal disease.

Currently there is no vaccine or antiviral treatment for MERS, a severe respiratory disease with a mortality rate of more than 40 percent that was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.


The tropical disease malaria is caused by the Plasmodium parasite. For its survival and propagation, Plasmodium requires a protein called actin. Scientists of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Germany used high-resolution structural biology methods to investigate the different versions of this protein in the parasite in high detail. Their results may in the future contribute to the development of tailor-made drugs against malaria–a disease that causes more than half a million deaths per year.


An international research team has identified a new superbug that caused a bloodstream infection in a Brazilian patient.

The new superbug is part of a class of highly-resistant bacteria known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA, which is a major cause of hospital and community-associated infections. The superbug has also acquired high levels of resistance to vancomycin, the most common and least expensive antibiotic used to treat severe MRSA infections worldwide.


Antibiotics improve growth in children at risk of undernourishment in low and middle income countries, according to a literature review in the British Medical Journal.

Malnutrition in early childhood, reflected in poor growth, is the cause of nearly half of all mortality worldwide in children less than five years old. Antibiotics are currently recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for severely malnourished children, and those infected or exposed to HIV, to reduce mortality. But while antibiotics have been linked to significant height and weight gains among children from undernourished populations in countries such as Guatemala, Malawi, Zambia, and Brazil, some studies have found no significant effect of antibiotics. 


Ménière's Disease is a rare condition affecting the inner ear.  It can cause tinnitus, hearing loss, vertigo attacks and a feeling of pressure deep within the ear and is a long term but non-fatal illness, making it low profile in scientific community.

But 160,000 sufferers in the UK are getting some help from the University of Exeter Medical School, which has been able to suggest what goes wrong in the body when people develop the disease, and provide an insight into factors that lead to its development.


The human protein Elafin plays a key role against the inflammatory reaction typical of Celiac disease and researchers have developed a probiotic bacterium able to deliver Elafin in the gut of mice.

Celiac disease is an auto-immune pathology that occurs in individuals genetically predisposed to gluten intolerance. Affected people do not harbor the enzymes required to degrade gluten during digestion and inflammatory reactions are induced by this abnormal digestion which can lead to the destruction of the gut barrier that is essential for nutrients absorption.
Researchers have have found that the repeated application of manure contaminated with antibiotics changes the composition of bacteria in the soil.

The focus of the investigation was on sulfadiazine (SDZ), a widely used antibiotic in animal husbandry which enters the soil via manure. The researchers report that repeated application of the antibiotic leads to a decrease in beneficial soil bacteria and at the same time an increase in bacteria that are harmful to humans.

After playing in every game for some 14 years in baseball, Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees - "The Iron Horse" - took himself out of the lineup because his manager wouldn't. He had been dropping balls, unable to get to routine plays, hitting in the low .100s, shuffling rather than running.

A month later he was diagnosed with the disease that would become synonymous with his name. That he had been able to do any sports at all, much less Major League Baseball, with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- ALS - is startling to doctors and patients today. Two years later he was dead but today, as many as 30,000 Americans are living with it.


In unvaccinated hotbeds like California and New York, rich elites rely on 'herd immunity' to protect their children - poor families will get the vaccines and protect the rich ones. That's why in those states, easily preventable diseases have come roaring back, with dangerous consequences.

Developing nations should be a reminder to anti-science progressives about the risks they are inflicting on kids who can't get vaccines, and their own children as well. Nearly 4 million children under 5 die from vaccine-preventable diseases worldwide each year.