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Small Things Considered Retrospective, December 2014

As is our custom at this time of year, we go over the material that has appeared in this blog over the last six months. Seems like a lot of stuff, but it’s the result of the work of quite a number of dedicated people, all of whom deserve our gratitude.

Structure and Function

Chromosome Org... Read More

Running an Ebola Clinic in Sierra Leone Is All About Containment—And Chlorine

Treating patients with the deadly Ebola virus takes doctors, drugs, and a whole lot of chlorine.

The Ebola treatment units being deployed across Sierra Leone are built by teams of logisticians—“logs” in disaster aid parlance—who can drop into a bare field and construct a mini city in a matter... Read More

CDC: Flu shot less effective this year because current virus has mutated

Scientists are concerned about what they're seeing so far this flu season, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday, a day after the agency advised doctors this year's flu vaccine is not as effective because the current strain of the virus has mutated.

Dr. ... Read More

Promising compound rapidly eliminates malaria parasite

An international research collaborative has determined that a promising anti-malarial compound tricks the immune system to rapidly destroy red blood cells infected with the malaria parasite but leave healthy cells unharmed. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists led the study, which ap... Read More

Injectable 3D vaccines could fight cancer and infectious diseases

New findings show programmable biomaterials can be delivered using needle injection to induce an immune response and fight deadly diseases.

One of the reasons cancer is so deadly is that it can evade attack from the body's immune system, which allows tumors to flourish and spread. Scientists ... Read More

Nanotechnology Against Malaria Parasites

Malaria parasites invade human red blood cells, they then disrupt them and infect others. Researchers at the University of Basel and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute have now developed so-called nanomimics of host cell membranes that trick the parasites. This could lead to novel tr... Read More

Discovery aims to fight destructive bee disease

Researchers hope their new discovery will help combat a disease killing honeybee populations around the world. The researchers have found a toxin released by the pathogen that causes American foulbrood disease -- Paenibacillus larvae -- and developed a lead-based inhibitor against it.

Click "... Read More

NIH Allows Restart Of MERS Research That Had Been Questioned

Some researchers who study the virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome got an early Christmas present: permission to resume experiments that the federal government abruptly halted in October.

The scientists were trying to modify the MERS virus so that it's better able to sicken mic... Read More

Worries About Unusual Botulinum Toxin Prove Unfounded

Remember that worrisome new form of botulinum toxin we told you about in late 2013, the one that supposedly had to be kept secret out of fear it could be used as a bioweapon that would evade all of our medical defenses?

Well, as it turns out, it's not that scary after all. The antitoxin store... Read More

Genome sequencing traces MRSA spread in high transmission setting

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is a common cause of hospital-acquired infections, with the largest burden of infections occurring in under-resourced hospitals. While genome sequencing has previously been applied in well-resourced clinical settings to track the spread of MRSA, transm... Read More

Developing global expertise in medical mycology and fungal immunology

As part of the Wellcome Trust Strategic Award for Medical Mycology and Fungal Immunology (WTSA MMFI), ten international students are awarded scholarships to complete a Masters of Research (MRes) at the University of Aberdeen, followed by a three-year PhD at any UK institution with expertise in t... Read More

Oncolytic viruses as anticancer vaccines

Oncolytic virotherapy has shown impressive results in preclinical studies and first promising therapeutic outcomes in clinical trials as well. Since viruses are known for a long time as excellent vaccination agents, oncolytic viruses are now designed as novel anticancer agents combining the aspe... Read More

Discovery in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria

For four years, researchers at Universite catholique de Louvain have been trying to find out how bacteria can withstand antibiotics, so as to be able to attack them more effectively. These researchers now understand how one defense mechanism works and the results of their research have been publ... Read More

The Race to Create Ebola Treatments From Survivors’ Blood

Scientists waging war against Ebola are mining a cache of microscopic weapons hidden in Ebola survivors’ blood.

Made by the immune system, the weapons are antibodies, small proteins that target and neutralize invading virus particles. Scientists aren’t sure about the molecular specifics yet, ... Read More

SLU Research Finds Enzyme Inhibitors Suppress Herpes Simplex Virus Replication

Saint Louis University research findings published in the December issue of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy report a family of molecules known as nucleotidyltransferase superfamily (NTS) enzyme inhibitors are promising candidates for new herpes virus treatments.

The findings could lead ... Read More

First successful vaccination against 'mad cow'-like wasting disease in deer

Researchers say that a vaccination they have developed to fight a brain-based, wasting syndrome among deer and other animals may hold promise on two additional fronts: protecting US livestock from contracting the disease, and preventing similar brain infections in humans. Read More

When Threatened By Worms, Bacteria Summon Killer Fungi

When you’re the size of a human, you worry about lions and tigers and bears. But if you’re a bacterium, a tiny nematode worm, just a millimetre long, can be a vicious predator. Nematodes are among the most common animals on the planet, and many of them hunt bacteria in soil and water. The microb... Read More

Life would go on if all bacteria disappeared

Microbes: They're everywhere, including inside our bodies. But are they really necessary? Not to life, scientists argue in a new paper — but certainly to life as we know it.

For starters, microbiologists Jack Gilbert and Josh Neufeld had to put aside the internal cell structures that were pro... Read More

The debilitating outbreak sweeping the Americas

Its name means "bending over in pain." It has no treatment or vaccine. Its symptoms resemble Dengue fever. And it has infected more than 1 million people -- 155 of them fatally -- since spreading to the Americas one year ago.

The mosquito-borne Chikungunya virus has long been diagnosed in tra... Read More

One Common Genetic Variant and the Bacteria Inside Of Us Help Dictate Inflammation, Antitumor Activity, and Outcome in Cancer Patients

A common polymorphism – a variation in a person’s DNA sequence that is found with regularity in the general population – can lead to a chain of events that dictates how a tumor will progress in certain types of cancer, including a form of breast cancer as well as ovarian cancer, according to new... Read More
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