March 7, 2014 – 10:26 am
A novel approach to cancer immunotherapy — strategies designed to induce the immune system to attack cancer cells — may provide a new and cost-effective weapon against some of the most deadly tumors, including ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. Investigators from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center report in the Journal of Hematology & Oncology that a protein engineered to combine a molecule targeting a tumor-cell-surface antigen with another protein that stimulates several immune functions prolonged survival in animal models of both tumors.
March 6, 2014 – 9:29 am
A strategy to genetically modify cells from people infected with HIV could become a way to control the virus that causes AIDS without using antiviral drugs, according to results from an early-stage trial that were published on Wednesday. Data from the small study of the Sangamo BioSciences therapy, known by the code name SB-728-T, were issued in the New England Journal of Medicine, the first publication of data from a human trial of a technology called "gene editing." The technique is designed to disrupt a gene, CCR5, used by HIV to infect T-cells, the white blood cells that fight viral infections. A patient's cells are removed and processed to alter the DNA that codes for the CCR5 receptor. The altered cells are multiplied and tested, then infused back into the patient.
March 5, 2014 – 9:28 am
AstraZeneca today announced the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved orphan drug MYALEPT™ (metreleptin for injection), which is indicated as an adjunct to diet as replacement therapy for the treatment of complications of leptin deficiency in patients with congenital or acquired generalised lipodystrophy. MYALEPT, a recombinant analogue (laboratory-created form) of human leptin, is the first and only treatment approved by the FDA for these patients. AstraZeneca is working to complete the transfer of the Biologics License Application (BLA) for MYALEPT from Bristol-Myers Squibb Company to AstraZeneca as part of the acquisition of the diabetes alliance assets, including MYALEPT and Amylin Pharmaceuticals, which was completed on 1 February 2014.
March 4, 2014 – 10:25 am
Scientists in South Africa have mapped the evolution of an antibody that kills different strains of the HIV virus, which might yield a vaccine for the incurable disease, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases said on Monday. The scientists have been studying one woman's response to HIV infection from stored samples of her blood and isolated the antibodies that she developed, said Lynn Morris, head of the virology unit at the NICD.
February 28, 2014 – 9:24 am
The UK government have drafted and published, for public consultation, how the creation of three-person babies using new IVF techniques - called mitochondrial replacement - will be regulated. The new techniques are intended to prevent mothers passing on serious inherited diseases caused by flaws in mitochondrial DNA to their children. The purpose of the consultation is to gather views about the draft regulations from all those with an interest, say the Department of Health.
February 27, 2014 – 10:47 am
Creating a vaccine that protects people from all four types of dengue virus has frustrated scientists for decades. But researchers at the University of North Carolina have discovered a new target for human antibodies that could hold the key to a vaccine for the world’s most widespread mosquito-borne disease. Using an experimental technique new to the dengue field, the labs of Ralph Baric, PhD, and Aravinda de Silva, PhD, showed that a molecular hinge where two regions of a protein connect is where natural human antibodies attach to dengue 3 to disable it. The finding, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that after primary infection most human antibodies that neutralize the virus bind to the hinge region.
February 26, 2014 – 9:40 am
In hopes of fighting malaria by interfering with the life cycle of the malaria parasite, scientists have focused on a potential weak point—the part of the cycle in which the parasite, while in human blood, switches from asexual multiplication to sexual development, which involves the formation of gametocytes. Male and female gametocytes are the only forms of the malaria parasite that are infectious to mosquitos. If scientists could find a way to thwart the switch from asexual to sexual development, they might be able to prevent malaria’s spread, which depends on the parasite’s mosquito-borne stage.
February 25, 2014 – 10:21 am
esearchers have had early success with a new therapy for leukemia that trains the body's own immune system to fight cancer, a small study shows. Doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York focused on a fast-growing blood cancer called B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which affects a type of white blood cell that makes antibodies. All of the patients in the study had relapsed after being treated with chemotherapy, according to the study, published today in Science Translational Medicine.
February 21, 2014 – 11:01 am
An immunization campaign in West Africa has shown that vaccines can be delivered to remote areas without using ice boxes, and still remain viable. The finding challenges decades-old dogma that vaccines must be kept cool at every step of the chain from manufacture to use. Julien Potet, a vaccines-policy adviser at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF; also known as Doctors Without Borders) in Paris, says that the findings set "a very positive precedent". He recounts how an MSF campaign in Chad in 2010 that vaccinated half a million people against measles required 22,000 ice packs in just 11 days. "If you eliminate the need for icepacks from vaccine carriers in the last stretch of a vaccine’s journey, it would help us reach more kids, much more easily," he says.
February 20, 2014 – 9:58 am
When a heart attack brings blood flow to a screeching halt, that’s only the first assault on our fist-size organ. Among survivors, the recovery itself fuels more permanent damage to the heart. Scar tissue can harden once-flexible heart muscle, making it less elastic. And as tentacles of this tissue creep over the aorta the heart muscle can no longer fully contract. This long-term damage can minimize the amount of oxygen-rich blood sent throughout the body, which can send patients spiraling into heart failure. Heart transplants are one way to circumvent these scar tissue issues, but donor hearts are always in short supply. Devising other truly effective solutions has long eluded researchers. A form of gene therapy, however, is now showing promise in pigs.