December 12, 2018

    Enterococcus sp. can leave the intestines and trigger autoimmune reactions in the body
    Gut bacteria as a cause of autoimmune disease

    Enterococcus gallinarum bacteria living in the small intestines of mice and humans can leave the gut and colonise lymph nodes, the liver and spleen. There they stimulate the immune system to attack healthy tissue. Treatment with an antibiotic or vaccine targeting E. gallinarum suppressed the autoimmune reaction. Researchers say that these findings pave the way for new treatment options for chronic autoimmune conditions, such as systemic lupus and autoimmune liver diseases.

    Read the full story: Yale University
    Scientific publication: Science

    Victorian peasants had the healthiest diet
    In mid-Victorian Britain the poor had the best diet and health - short health news

    In a new study, researchers looked at the impact of diet on health during the mid-Victorian era (19th century) in Britain. The available data were compared to information about mortality from the same period. The study found large regional differences in diet, lifestyle, and mortality. One interesting discovery is that the poor laboring population from rural areas had the most nutritious diet and the lowest mortality rates. This is explained by the availability of natural and healthy foods, produced locally, like vegetables, milk, fish, etc., which were scarcer in urban regions. Today the urbanization and improved infrastructure make food easily available in cities, but one can still wonder if the reported difference in the diet is still present, mainly due to the high prevalence of processed foods in the present.

    Read the full story: MedicalXpress
    Scientific publication: The Royal Society of Medicine Journals

    Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures
    Brain protein levels linked to seizure onset in epilepsy - short health science news

    Epilepsy affects millions of people worldwide. Many aspects of this disorder are yet unknown. A new study provides new clues about a mechanism involved in epileptic seizures. The protein called TIA-1 (T-cell intracellular antigen-1), present in many parts of the brain, was identified as a key factor in determining the point above which seizures occurred. TIA-1 appears to suppress seizures and this discovery may help the efforts to develop new therapeutic approaches for epilepsy.

    Read the full story: Syracuse University
    Scientific publication: Neuroscience

    Vaccination of young infants does not increase the risk for non-vaccine targeted infections
    Vaccination does not weaken the immune system

    Exposure to multiple vaccines through the first 23 months of life does not increase the risk of illness due to infections that had not been targeted by vaccination, a new study reports. This finding is based on a comparison between 193 cases with non-vaccine-targeted and 751 controls without non-vaccine-targeted infections. While some have raised concerns about vaccinations in the recent past, the argument that vaccination weakens the immune system against infections that are not targeted by vaccination has now effectively been shown to be a myth.

    Read the full story: Kaiser Permanente
    Scientific publication: JAMA

    MERS corona virus seen with an electron microscope. Image: NIAID, NIH, via Wikimedia Commons
    Broad spectrum antiviral drug inhibits coronaviruses

    Microbiologists report that the antiviral drug GS-5734 that inhibits strains of SARS, MERS, and Ebola also inhibits murine hepatitis virus (MHV). MHV is closely related to several human coronaviruses that can infect the respiratory tract. SARS and MERS have caused deadly outbreaks in the recent past, and they turned out to be difficult to combat. With GS-5734 this might become possible in the near future, especially because the mutations the viruses develop to counteract the effects of the drug weaken the virus.

    Read the full story: American Society for Microbiology
    Scientific publication: mBio

    Prostate cancer may be aggressive and deadly, so accurate diagnosis is required
    Prostate cancer screening not so accurate: better ways of diagnosing needed - health science news

    A large scale-study, including over 400,000 men, looked at the accuracy of the prostate cancer screening (PSA) tests and their long-term benefits. The study found that one-time PSA screening in asymptomatic men has serious flaws and missed diagnosing some aggressive forms of prostate cancer. The researchers concluded that, although the test is harmless, it does not significantly contribute to saving lives after a follow-up of ten years. More accurate tools for diagnosing cancer are required.

    Read the full story: University of Bristol
    Scientific publication: Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)

    Actin filaments (white) inside cells
    Scientists discover the molecular machine that enable cells to move - short health science news

    Some cells, like the immune cells, move inside the body crawling through tissues. Biochemists have now identified the molecules that allow this to happen. It all starts with actin, a protein that grows like a tree branch. When it grows, it pushes the membrane of the cell, creating a protrusion that can pull the cell forward, similar to the how a snail moves. Other proteins, WASP (Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein) and the complex Arp2/3 interact to enable cell mobility. The mechanism also has potential importance for cancer research, since cancer cells also move through the body.

    Read the full story: University of Oregon
    Scientific publication: PNAS

    New protein discovered for treatment of multiple sclerosis

    Researchers have found that a particular protein, known as EGFL7, inhibits the infiltration of immune cells into the mouse brain, and hence prevents the attack of myelin around neurons by the immune system. Loss of myelin, due to activity of one’s own immune system, is the cause of multiple sclerosis. The researchers hope that, with their discovery of EGFL7 function, treatments can be developed that improve multiple sclerosis symptoms.

    Read the full story: Mainz University Medical Center
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications

    Helminths provoke immune responses in the gut that are controlled by the brain
    Brain keeps the immune system in check

    Brain cells release noradrenaline, noradrenaline binds to adrenergic receptors on innate lymphoid cells of the immune system, lymphoid cells stop dividing. This cascade of events has been reported to control the activity of the immune response to infections in the gut and lungs to prevent excessive inflammation. Experiments were done on mice that were infected with helminths (parasitic round worm), but the results likely apply to humans and might thus provide new avenues for the treatment of asthma and allergies.

    Read the full story: Weill Cornell Medicine
    Scientific publication: Science

    Staphylococcus epidermidis bacteria are part of the normal skin microbiome
    Skin bacteria protects against cancer

    Researchers have found that a bacteria stain that lives on the skin might protect against skin cancer. The bacteria, S. epidermidis, secrete the chemical substance 6-HAP which prevents cancer formation on the skin of mice that had been exposed to cancer-causing ultraviolet rays (UV). Further research should find out how 6-HAP is produced and whether it can be used to protect against cancer caused by overexposure to UV radiation from the sun.

    Read the full story: University of California San Diego
    Scientific publication: Science Advances

    Diet and lifestyle shape our microbiome, not genetics
    Diet and lifestyle, not genetics, determine gut bacteria composition

    A new study found that the population of gut bacteria, the microbiome, is mostly influenced by diet and lifestyle, and not by somebody’s genetic make-up. The microbiome differs from person to person, and has a surprisingly huge impact on health, from weight gain to moods. As diet and lifestyle can be changed, it should be possible to alter somebody’s microbiome to improve health in a relatively easy way in future treatments of diseases.

    Read the full story: Weizmann Institute
    Scientific publication: Nature

    Non-genetic markers may be better predictors for breast cancer development than DNA mutations
    Non-genetic markers for hereditary breast cancer identified

    DNA methylation may be a better predictor for the risk of developing breast cancer than DNA mutations of known breast cancer genes, a new study found. DNA methylation is a form of epigenetic regulation of gene expression, without changing the DNA itself. Epigenetics might thus mimic genetic variation, predisposing an individual to breast cancer and possibly other heritable diseases.

    Read the full story: University of Melbourne
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications

    A new class of drugs promotes bacterial death by inducing aggregation of important proteins
    A new promising method to kill drug-resistant bacteria - short science news

    Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest medical problems in the present. Lately, there has been a lot of interest in developing new ways to eliminate dangerous bacteria. One original solution was recently published and it involves using a new class of drugs that works differently than traditional antibiotics. These drugs penetrate bacterial cells where they induce a process called protein aggregation. Basically, the proteins inside the bacterial cell stick together and they stop functioning normally, which causes the death of the bacteria. The new molecule proved to be highly effective against Gram-negative bacteria, which is causing major problems in many hospitals.

    Read the full story: VIB
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications

    A defective receptor in the airways may be at the origin of allergies and asthma
    Receptor found that protects against allergies and asthma

    Researchers have discovered a receptor that binds a protein from dust mites, cockroaches, shrimps and other invertebrates and by doing so protects against allergies and asthma. The receptor is found in the airways where it prevents the secretion of interleukin-33, which would otherwise promote allergic reactions. The receptor is not implicated in allergies for pollen. The discovery of this receptor, known as dectin-1, makes new treatment options for asthma patients possible.

    Read the full story: Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
    Scientific publication: Science Immunology

    Viral encephalitis, 3D illustration showing brain and close-up view of viruses and neurons
    Why some people develop encephalitis following a virus infection

    Mutations in the DBR1 gene explain why 1 in 10,000 people will develop encephalitis following a common virus infection. The protein encoded by DBR1 is important for proper mRNA splicing, and without it, immunity in the brainstem against viruses is severely impaired. This discovery sheds new light on the precise cause of encephalitis, a potentially deadly disease.

    Read the full story: The Rockefeller University
    Scientific publication: Cell

    Side effects of birth control methods are often a concern for women
    No link found between contraceptives and depression - short science news

    Depression is a common concern for many women using birth control methods. However, a new study by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found no evidence to support a link between hormonal birth control and depression. The researchers reviewed thousands of studies on the mental health effects of contraceptives, published in over 30 years. They concluded that there is insufficient evidence to prove a link between birth control and depression.

    Read the full story:
    Scientific publication: Contraception

    Exomeres (purple). By: Molecular Cytology Core Facility, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
    New nano-sized particles secreted by cancer cells discovered - short science news

    A new cellular messenger discovered by Weill Cornell Medicine scientists may help reveal how cancer cells co-opt the body’s intercellular delivery service to spread to new locations in the body. In a paper published in Nature Cell Biology, scientists identify nano-sized particles, called exosomes, that are secreted by cancer cells and contain DNA, RNA, fats and proteins. Investigators separated two distinct exosome subtypes and discover a new nanoparticle, which they named exomeres. Exomeres largely fuse with cells in the bone marrow and liver, where they can alter immune function and metabolism of drugs. The latter finding may explain why many cancer patients are unable to tolerate even small doses of chemotherapy due to toxicity.

    Read the full story:
    Scientific publication: Nature Cell Biology

    Tobacco heating products are designed to heat rather than burn tobacco
    Tobacco heating products may reduce exposure to toxic chemicals compared to cigarettes  - news

    A new alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes is represented by tobacco heating products designed to heat rather than burn the tobacco. These products are very new and little is known about their effects. A clinical study conducted by scientists at British American Tobacco has revealed that when smokers switch completely from cigarettes to tobacco heating products, their exposure to certain cigarette smoke toxicants is significantly reduced. The study suggests that tobacco heating products may substantially reduce risks compared to smoking conventional cigarettes. The results were encouraging; however, the study was conducted on only 180 participants and further confirmation of the results is needed.

    Read the full story: Eureka Alert
    Scientific publication: Meeting of the Society for Research in Nicotine and Tobacco

    Antidepressants are more effective than placebo in the treatment of depression
    Antidepressants work

    In a huge meta-analysis, researchers found that antidepressants are, on average, more effective than placebo. This applied to all of the 21 antidepressants that were evaluated in this study, with some antidepressants being more effective than others. The analysis concerned treatments of 8 weeks, so that it remains uncertain whether the beneficial effects of antidepressants persist over the longer term. While the use of antidepressants has been met with controversy, the study shows that antidepressants work. However, the data only present averages across groups of patients, and the response to medication is known to vary from person to person.

    Read the full story: University of Oxford
    Scientific publication: The Lancet

    A child’s development is affected by the health and lifestyles of th parents before pregnancy
    The future of a child influenced by the parents’ lifestyle before pregnancy - short science news

    Young men and women often carry health risks induced by their lifestyle and this can influence future pregnancies and the growth of the children. This is what a news large-scale study suggests. Health issues such as obesity, substance abuse and mental disorders can have an impact on pregnancy, even if they occurred in the past, for example during the adolescence of the parents. For example, the maternal depression, affecting a high proportion of the mothers is correlated with pre-pregnancy mental health problems that date back to adolescence. The study suggests actions to be taken to improve the health and lifestyle of adolescents and future parents-to-be.

    Read the full story: University of Melbourne
    Scientific publication: Nature

    Problem drinking should be treated as early as possible to lower the risk for dementia
    Alcohol use is a major risk factor for dementia

    A nation-wide screening of dementia patients in France found a strong correlation between alcohol use disorder and dementia, especially early-onset dementia. Of 57.000 cases diagnosed with early-onset dementia, 57% had a history of chronic heavy drinking. As heavy drinking can be avoided, it is important to reduce problem drinking as early as possible, before brain damage and dementia become permanent, researchers say.

    Read the full story: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
    Scientific publication: The Lancet Public Health

    Teenagers were better prepared for a standard driving test than older people
    Age and driving: the younger the better for passing a driving test - short science news

    The age of a driver is important when it comes to safe driving. Contrary to popular beliefs, a new research study suggests that teenagers are better at passing a driving test compared to their older peers. This was especially true for men, the older the student, the worse his driving skills score was. The study also investigated the importance of other factors. It found that there was no significant difference in driving skills between males and females. Moreover, the people that were involved in sports performed better. This may be because participation in sports improves spatial perception. The study suggests it may be a good idea for older drivers to review the safety driving guidelines.

    Read the full story:
    Scientific publication: PLOS One

    A disadvantaged childhood may predict poor health in older adults
    Health in elderly influenced by economic vulnerability during childhood - short science news

    Could socio-economic vulnerability in childhood influence health in older adults? This is the question that scientists from the University of Geneva try to answer in a recent study. They examined data from more than 24,000 older people from 14 European countries. The researchers found that socio-economically disadvantaged individuals in childhood had low muscle strength at an older age - a good indicator of their overall health status. Even if they did better in life and improved their socio-economic status as adults, individuals disadvantaged as children had a higher risk of poor health. Read more below to find out why!

    Read the full story:
    Scientific publication: Age and Ageing

    Insulin-like proteins are naturally produced by some viruses
    Insulin goes viral

    Analyses of viral DNA revealed that four viruses synthesise proteins that look a lot like insulin. The viral insulin binds to rodent and human insulin receptors, and switches on all related signalling pathways within the cell to stimulate sugar uptake or cell division. The identified viruses are known to infect fish, but whether they also can infect humans, either directly or through fish consumption, is at present not known. The viruses will be used for further studies in diabetes type I research, and might help pharmaceutical industry to design new insulin-like proteins in the treatment of disease.

    Read the full story: Joslin Diabetes Center
    Scientific publication: pnas

    New test for detecting autism in children developed by scientists from the University of Warwick
    New test for detecting autism in children developed by scientists from the University of Warwick

    A new promising test for detecting autism was developed recently at the University of Warwick. The test screens blood and urine samples for abnormal protein levels. It can detect two categories of proteins, both associated with autism: the oxidation marker dityrosine and advanced glycation endproducts. The results need to be confirmed by follow-up studies. If successful, the new test could be used for early detection of autism, assessment of treatment efficacy and to evaluate the progress of the disorder.

    Read the full story: Eureka Alerta
    Scientific publication: Molecular Autism

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