Immunology

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. 


A new paper has found that vaccinating cattle against the E. coli O157 bacterium could cut the number of human cases of the disease by 85%.

The bacteria, which cause severe gastrointestinal illness and death in humans, are spread by consuming contaminated food and water, or by contact with livestock feces in the environment. Cattle are the main reservoir for the bacterium. The vaccines that are available for cattle are rarely used.

The study used veterinary, human and molecular data to examine the risks of E. coli O157 transmission from cattle to humans, and to estimate the impact of vaccinating cattle.


The sweetness of summer vacations can quickly turn sour for those affected by lupus erythematosus.

For them, absorption of the UV-light component in sunlight may cause florid inflammation and redness of the skin. Lupus erythematosus (LE) is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system erroneously attacks the body's own tissues. Where most people merely suffer sunburn, LE prone patients may develop severe redness and inflammation in sun-exposed skin. 

Researchers have now discovered which signaling pathway of the innate immune system promotes autoimmune symptoms following sun-induced DNA damage and an immune mechanism that triggers LE skin lesions.


It is generally accepted that Parkinson's disease is aggravated when a specific protein is transformed by an enzyme but a new study found instead that this transformation tends to protect against the progression of the disease. 

Parkinson's disease is characterized by the accumulation of a protein known as alpha-synuclein in the brain. If too much of it is produced or if it's not eliminated properly, it then aggregates into small clumps inside the neurons, eventually killing them. Several years ago scientists discovered that these aggregated proteins in the brain had undergone a transformation known as "phosphorylation" -- a process in which an enzyme adds an extra chemical element to a protein, thus modifying its properties.