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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Written by Hemant Khanna, University of Massachusetts Medical School
When most people think of the word “virus,” they often relate it to infections or diseases. The sole purpose of a virus is to attack and infect a normal cell, use it to replicate, and then kill it. Some examples include the flu virus and the deadly Ebola virus. Read more.