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This Single Vaccine Could Protect Us Against Zika, Dengue, and Malaria

Written by: Kaleigh Rogers

Photo credit: Vice

The mosquito is regularly crowned the most deadly animal on Earth, and with good reason. Infectious diseases spread by these insects—including malaria, dengue, and Zika—mean mosquitoes are responsible for 725,000 human deaths every year.

Rather than looking for a vaccine for each of these different diseases, what if we made a vaccine against mosquitoes themselves?

That’s exactly what scientists have done, and they’re about to test it on humans for the first time. The vaccine, called AGS-v, was developed by researchers in London and is about to be tested through a small trial conducted by the National Institutes of Health. Read more.

Published February 24, 2017 by Vice.

Sea Snail Venom Could Provide a New, Long-Lasting Alternative to Opioid Painkillers

Photo credit: James St. John via Wikimedia Commons

Written by: Peter Dockrill

A compound found in the venom of sea snails has been discovered to block pain, and does so by targeting a different molecular pathway to that used by opioid painkillers.

With estimates that more than 90 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, a new treatment formulated from the venom compound could provide an alternative to overused opioid medications – a crisis that’s been described as the worst drug epidemic in American history. Read more.

Published February 23, 2017 by Science Alert

Epilepsy Gene Mutation Discovered in Dogs May Help Treat People: U of G Study

Prof. Fiona James studies how to treat epilepsy in dogs. Photo credit University of Guelph.

A new gene mutation discovered in dogs by an international research team including a University of Guelph professor may help better diagnose and treat one of the most common kinds of epilepsy in people.

Screening for similar gene changes in human patients may give clinicians a new tool for treatment, including potential new drugs, said Fiona James, a clinical studies professor in the Ontario Veterinary College.

Prof. Fiona James studies how to treat epilepsy in dogs
The discovery is reported in a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by a team of researchers in Canada, Germany and Finland. Read more.

Published February 21, 2017 by University of Guelph

Can a mouse meditate? Why these researchers want to find out

Written by:Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times

Can a mouse meditate? A new study suggests the answer is … kind of.

Researchers from the University of Oregon in Eugene have replicated some of the same brain patterns exhibited by human meditators in the brains of mice – no tiny meditation cushions or squeaky “oms” required.

Still, experiments show that the “meditating mice” were more relaxed and less stressed than those with no rodent meditation training.

The authors say the work, published Monday in PNAS, provides a proof of concept that will allow them to learn more about how meditation affects the brain. Read more.

Published by MedicalExpress February 21, 2017

Listeria may be serious miscarriage threat early in pregnancy

Article Written by: Chris Barncard

Listeria monocytogenes, the common food-borne bacteria depicted in this illustration based on electron microscope imagery, can cause miscarriage, stillbirth and premature labor in pregnant women. Image Credit: James Archer/Centers for Disease Control

Listeria, a common food-borne bacterium, may pose a greater risk of miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy than appreciated, according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Veterinary Medicine studying how pathogens affect fetal development and change the outcome of pregnancy.

“For many years, listeria has been associated with adverse outcomes in pregnancy, but particularly at the end of pregnancy,” says Ted Golos, a UW–Madison reproductive physiologist and professor of comparative biosciences and obstetrics and gynecology. “What wasn’t known with much clarity before this study is that it appears it’s a severe risk factor in early pregnancy.” Read more.

Published by University of Wisconsin – Madison February 21, 2017

Gut bacteria may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease

New research from Lund University in Sweden has shown that intestinal bacteria can accelerate the development of Alzheimer’s disease. According to the researchers behind the study, the results open up the door to new opportunities for preventing and treating the disease.

Because our gut bacteria have a major impact on how we feel through the interaction between the immune system, the intestinal mucosa and our diet, the composition of the gut microbiota is of great interest to research on diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Exactly how our gut microbiota composition is composed depends on which bacteria we receive at birth, our genes and our diet.

By studying both healthy and diseased mice, the researchers found that mice suffering from Alzheimer’s have a different composition of gut bacteria compared to mice that are healthy. The researchers also studied Alzheimer’s disease in mice that completely lacked bacteria to further test the relationship between intestinal bacteria and the disease. Mice without bacteria had a significantly smaller amount of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain. Beta-amyloid plaques are the lumps that form at the nerve fibres in cases of Alzheimer’s disease. Read more.

Published by Science Daily February 10, 2017

Scientists find brain hormone that triggers fat burning

TSRI Assistant Professor Surpriya Srinivasan (left) and TSRI Research Associate Lavinia Palamiuc led the new study.
Photo credit: Madeline McCurry-Schmidt and Science Daily

Biologists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have identified a brain hormone that appears to trigger fat burning in the gut. Their findings in animal models could have implications for future pharmaceutical development.

“This was basic science that unlocked an interesting mystery,” said TSRI Assistant Professor Supriya Srinivasan, senior author of the new study, published in the journal Nature Communications.

Previous studies had shown that the neurotransmitter serotonin can drive fat loss. Yet no one was sure exactly how. To answer that question, Srinivasan and her colleagues experimented with roundworms called C. elegans, which are often used as model organisms in biology. These worms have simpler metabolic systems than humans, but their brains produce many of the same signaling molecules, leading many researchers to believe that findings in C. elegans may be relevant for humans. Read more.

Published by Science Daily January 27, 2017

Special Issue of Primate Journal Focuses Solely on Non-Human Primate Well-Being

Photo credit: Kathy West – Speaking of Research

 

This month, the American Journal of Primatology published a freely-available Special Issue entitled, “Non-Human Primate Well-Being.” The entire issue is dedicated to the physical, psychological and physiological well-being of laboratory-housed non-human primates, and is notable for its cross-facilities studies as well as for the diversity of primate species that are represented, including rhesus and pigtailed macaques (Macaca mulatta and Macaca nemestrina, respectively), vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops sp.), and owl monkeys (Aotus sp.) Read more.

Published by Speaking of Research January 23, 2017

Cancer spread cut by 75% in tests

By James Gallagher
Health and science reporter, BBC News website

Photo Credit: BBC News

The deadly spread of cancer around the body has been cut by three-quarters in animal experiments, say scientists.

Tumours can “seed” themselves elsewhere in the body and this process is behind 90% of cancer deaths.

The mouse study, published in Nature, showed altering the immune system slowed the spread of skin cancers to the lungs. Read more. 

Published by BBC News January 12, 2017