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Researchers identify faster, more effective drug combination regimens to treat tuberculosis

Human white blood cells infected with tuberculosis bacteria, shown in green. Photo credit: UCLA D.L. Clemens

Written by Enrique Rivero

Tuberculosis is a potentially deadly though curable disease. Each year about 10 million people develop active cases, and 1.6 million people die. In addition, about 1.7 billion people around the world are infected with TB bacteria, which can lie dormant for weeks to years, then become active and cause disease in up to 10 percent of those who are infected.

Today, people who contract tuberculosis typically take a course of drugs for six to eight months. However, the length of treatment means some patients don’t stick with the therapy or may develop adverse effects from drug toxicity. Some may develop resistance to the drugs, requiring changes in the drug regimen that can lengthen the treatment to as long as two years. Even worse, there is a high fatality rate among those with drug-resistant TB. Read more. 

Published May 13, 2019 by UCLA Newsroom

Major step towards individual cancer immunotherapy

T cells (left) become active in the body only when they recognise a peptide (blue, centre) located on one of the immune system’s sentinel cells (right). The ETH scientists repurposed sentinel cells in such a way that they indicate which peptides the T cells recognise. Photo credit: MedicalXpress/Science Photo Library / Keith Chambers

Medicine has great hopes for personalised cancer immunotherapy. The idea is to have a vaccine prompt the immune system to fight a tumour. Scientists at ETH Zurich have developed a method that allows them to determine which molecules are suited to patient-specific immunisation. Read more.

Published March 29, 2019 by Medical Xpress

On The Frontier Of An Alzheimer’s Cure

In mouse brains stained for the presence of amyloid, much less is visible in the cortex of a mouse treated with sensory gamma stimulation (right) than in a mouse left untreated (left). Credit: Picower Institute for Learning and Memory/MIT – Photo credit: Science Friday

Alzheimer’s disease is known for inflicting devastating declines in memory and cognitive function. Researchers are on the hunt for treatments are taking a number of approaches to slowing or preventing the neurodegenerative disease, including immune therapy, lifestyle changes, and targeting sticky buildups of proteins called amyloid beta. Read more.

Published March 22nd, 2019 by Science Friday

Breakdowns in mitochondrial housekeeping provide another clue to Alzheimer’s culprit

Researchers have zeroed in on the role of defects in mitophagy—a process in which cells clean out damaged or defective mitochondria—as a potential new treatment target for Alzheimer’s disease in experiments with animal models and lab specimens of human neurons. An international team of scientists led by NIA Intramural Research Program investigators in the Laboratory of Molecular Gerontology published their results in the March issue of Nature Neuroscience. Read more.

Published March 13th, 2019 by NIH National Institute on Aging

Detailed new primate brain atlas could lead to disease insights

Photo credit: (Photo : CSHL) The Brain/MINDS atlas can be used in conjunction with other brain mapping and imaging methods. Here, mapped neural connections of interest (atlas annotations–colored) are laid on top of MRI scans (greyscale).

The ability to comprehensively map the architecture of connections between neurons in primate brains has long proven elusive for scientists. But a new study, conducted in Japan with contributing neuroscientists from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), has resulted in a 3D reconstruction of a marmoset brain, as well as information about neuronal connectivity across the entire brain, that offers an unprecedented level of detail. Read more.

Published March 2, 2019 by Science Times

Oxygen-tracking method could improve diabetes treatment

MIT researchers are testing encapsulated pancreatic islet cells as a possible treatment for diabetes. These 1.5 mm capsules are embedded with a fluorine-containing compound that allows the researchers to monitor their oxygen levels with MRI once implanted in the body.
Photo credit: Virginia Spanoudaki

Written by Anne Trafton

Measurements could help scientists develop better designs for a bioartificial pancreas.

Transplanting pancreatic islet cells into patients with diabetes is a promising alternative to the daily insulin injections that many of these patients now require. These cells could act as a bioartificial pancreas, monitoring blood glucose levels and secreting insulin when needed. Read more.

Published February 25, 2019 by MIT News

Coming Soon: Battery-Free Pacemakers Powered by the Heart?

Written by Amy Norton

Scientists say they’ve taken a first step toward creating a pacemaker that runs on the heart’s own energy rather than batteries.

Pacemakers are electronic devices implanted to regulate your heartbeat — usually because of a condition that slows your heart’s normal rate. Traditional pacemakers have two parts: a battery-powered pulse generator implanted under the collarbone, and insulated wires that connect it to your heart. Read more.

Published February 20th, 2019 by USA News

Monkeys With Superpower Eyes Could Help Cure Color Blindness

Photo credit: Wired

Written by Adam Rogers

In the video, a preposterously cute, gray squirrel monkey named Dalton bonks his head against a computer screen in front of him. Wide-eyed and muttonchopped, Dalton has quite the setup—the screen, wide in squirrel-monkey terms, displays dots of varying sizes and colors. Below that is a monkey-sized basin, like a sink in a dollhouse kitchen remodeled with stainless steel fixtures. Read more.

Published February 10th, 2019 by Wired