Diseases, Health & Medicine, News

Scientists stumble upon a vaccine which blocks HIV in monkeys – human trials planned

T-lymphocyte. Image via David Darling.

Scientists were surprised when they unexpectedly stumbled upon a relatively simple vaccine which blocks infection with SIV – the monkey equivalent of HIV – and stops the spread of the virus in already infected monkeys. How it works All efficient vaccines against a viral infection elicit virus-specific neutralizing antibodies and sometimes also cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTL) that prevent virus infection or eradicate the virus rapidly after it enters the body. So far, this has proven impossible in the case of HIV, despite huge advancements in the last couple of decades. So far, only one trial out of more than a hundred proved limited efficiency, with modest and short lasting protection. This…

Diseases, News

Drug saves monkeys from Marburg virus – a close relative of Ebola


A medicine administered even up to 3 days after infection can save monkeys from the Marburg virus – an incredibly dangerous pathogen closely related to Ebola. “This clearly starts to move into the realm of being a therapy, rather than a post-exposure treatment,” says virologist Gene Olinger, principal science adviser for contract-research organization MRIGlobal in Kansas City, Missouri, who was not involved in the study. “It’s a tougher point to intervene, so it’s important that they’ve demonstrated this.” Marburg virs (MARV) is a hemorrhagic fever virus. It’s one of the most dangerous viruses on the face of the Earth, causing severe symptoms in a very short time in humans and nonhuman primates. The…

Diseases, News

Ebola outbreak moving faster than we can control: WHO declares international emergency


As reported earlier, 2014 has seen the worst Ebola outbursts in history. Recent escalations of the outbreaks and spread to other countries like Nigeria has finally prompted the  World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the Ebola situation a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). The report is meant to raise more awareness to the deadly threats the virus pose to international security and prompt rich countries to take action before its too late. Ebola outbreak: an international emergency Although we’re dealing with the worst Ebola epidemic in history, with several outbreaks affecting central African nations like Liberia, Nigeria or Guinea, it’s amazing that only two organizations are actively involved in containing…

Biology, Diseases, Health & Medicine, News

Fat grizzlies stay diabetes free thanks to protein shut down


The shutdown of a key protein allows grizzly bears to go through tremendous weight gains without loosing insulin sensitivity. Thus they’re never at risk of getting diabetes. What if we could shut this protein down for humans too?…

Diseases, Health & Medicine, News

An aspirin a day could dramatically reduce cancer risk, huge study concludes


The new study concludes that an aspirin a day for middle-aged people could save 130,000 lives over 20 years in Britain alone, by reducing cancer risk. Aspirin was most effective in cutting cancer risk in people from 50 to 64, and in order for the effects to be felt to the fullest, people should take 1 aspirin per day for 10 years – after that, even if they stop, the positive effects are still felt. The research team led by Professor Jack Cuzick, head of the centre for cancer prevention at Queen Mary University of London believes that aspirin is one of the best things you could do to cut down cancer…

Chemistry, Diseases, Nanotechnology, News

Cheap self-assemling anti-cancer molecules created in minutes


Researchers have found a cheap and quick way of producing peptides in a laboratory. Producing one of the body’s natural defenses against cancer and then implanting it into patients can prove pivotal in the fight against cancer….

Diseases, News

Finally, a malaria vaccine may have been discovered


Reporting in PLOS Medicine, researchers found that for every 1000 children who received the vaccine, 800 malaria cases can be prevented. While this is not yet sufficient to eradicate the disease, it is the closest scientists have gotten to a malaria vaccine. Malaria affects millions of people every year throughout the world, claiming just under 1 million lives in 2013 – most of them in the poor areas of sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria is caused by parasitic protozoans (a type of unicellular microorganism) and is commonly transmitted by the bite of female mosquitoes; basically, when they bite, they inject some of their saliva, along with the pathogen. The key to controlling…

Diseases, Health & Medicine, News

We are dealing with the worst Ebola outburst in history

The graph above shows the evolution of Ebola outbreaks since the 1970s when it first surfaced. This year is the most dangerous one to date.

The Ebola virus causes a highly infectious disease that can reach fatality rates of up to 90%. It causes a great deal of suffering, spreads really easily and if it’s not treated very early on can kill most people. It’s darn scary , but ever since it surfaced in 1976, when the first outbreaks in Congo and Sudan were reported, doctors have yet to find a cure. The best they can do is contain outbreaks and hope the virus doesn’t spread too far. So far, they’ve been somewhat successful, yet outbreaks have continued to appear here and there and this year was the worst by far. Some 700 people have…

Diseases, Genetics, News, Science

Potential HIV-1 cure works by deleting the virus’ DNA from the genome


HIV is maybe one of the most resilient and tenacious viral infections known to medical science. Unlike other infections, even if all traces of HIV are gone from the body – the virus itself – it can still resurface and infect the patient later on. That’s because HIV inserts itself permanently into the patient’s genome, slumbering in a latent state until it is ready to instruct cells to produce the virus. Then all hell breaks loose. This is why most HIV treatments fail; they provide a way to treat the effects, but not the cause, so while HIV may temporarily be eradicated from the body, it will eventually return to…