From rabies to bird flu to HIV, diseases passing from animals to humans is a well-known phenomenon. But a virus jumping from plants to humans? Never. At least, that's what doctors thought until Didier Raoult of the University of the Mediterranean in Marseilles, France, discovered that the mild mottle virus found in peppers may be causing fever, aches, and itching in humans. If validated, this would mark the first time a plant virus has been found to cause problems in people.
By Alessandra CalderinPosted 04.08.2010 at 6:04 pm 11 Comments
An innovative nanotech "vaccine" has been proven to cure type 1 diabetes in mice, and paves the way to do the same for humans. A dose of therapeutic nanoparticles given to diabetic mice restored healthy sugar levels in the rodents.
The nanoparticles making up the vaccine, thousands of times smaller than the cells they act on, are coated with protein fragments that suppress the autoimmune response that's characteristic of diabetes. Most importantly, unlike existing treatments for autoimmune disorders, the particles do all this without compromising the rest of the immune system.
Parents across the Lone Star State are in an uproar after the Texas Tribune found that the Department of State Health Services covered up the donation of blood samples from 800 newborn babies to a forensic database created by the US military. Although the blood was taken as part of routine disease screening, the state gave the blood away without the consent of the parents, to help the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory create a mitochondrial DNA database.
For victims of strokes, serious face injuries, or degenerative muscular diseases, losing the ability to blink threatens to compound their condition with corneal ulcers, or even eventual blindness. To help save the eyesight of people with damaged facial muscles, surgeons at the University of California-Davis Medical Center have developed a bionic eyelid implant that restores blinking ability with an artificial muscle.
By Bjorn CareyPosted 01.12.2010 at 11:14 am 10 Comments
“It’s not as silly a question as you might think,” says Michael Moore, a marine-mammal research specialist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. “It would take some extraordinary circumstances, but any mammal can get rabies.”
While some viruses attack the lungs, and others the blood, HIV attacks the only system that could put up a fight: the immune system itself. The immune system mounts some defense, but after HIV launches its surprise attack, the body simply can't produce enough killer T blood cells to take out the virus.
Now, thanks to researchers at UCLA, it's payback time for the blood cells. A team of scientists have plucked T-cells out of someone infected with HIV, and used them as a template for creating an army of HIV-fighting immune cells out of stem cells. Essentially a genetic vaccine, this technique could be used to copy T-cells designed to fight any virus, opening up the possibility of universal vaccination via stem cell implantation.
When humans eventually travel to Mars and beyond, they'll have plenty to worry about along with the discomforts of eating freeze-dried food and drinking their own urine. A new report says they will probably be really sick, to boot -- from flare-ups of E. coli, chicken pox or staph infections.
A host of microscopic stowaways could make interplanetary voyagers sick, especially because human immune systems are compromised in space, and because bacteria seem to thrive in micro- or zero-gravity environments.
For the first time, researchers have made a clinical diagnosis by sequencing the entire protein-coding parts of a person's genome.
"We have shown that one can use whole genome sequencing to make clinically meaningful diagnoses- it is technically feasible . . . and can provide new clinical insight that directs treatment," Richard Lifton, a geneticist at Yale who spearheaded the research, told Popsci.com.
Protein-coding DNA only makes up about one percent of the human genome, but is responsible for about a large portion of diseases with a genetic component.
Flu season in the Southern Hemisphere is almost over—and now it's heading back our way. At the time this issue went to press, there were more than 162,000 confirmed cases and 1,154 deaths worldwide from "novel H1N1," a.k.a. swine flu, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes this figure is a gross underestimate, especially since only a fraction of people who have the flu go to the hospital.
A decade ago, the bells of doom started to sound for carefree, swinging koalas. A new, HIV-like retrovirus had begun to attack the koala population, decimating its ranks and threatening extinction.
Now, the Australian researchers have launched an effort to stop the spread of the virus before it's too late.