The Much Maligned Tick: Key to a New Class of Antibiotics?

Yale researchers have discovered a glycoprotein in ticks (Ixodidae) that kicks in during winter to protect them from the cold also fights infection.  This protein may be the key to a new class of an antibiotics to help  in the battle against dangers pathogens such as MRSA.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-10-protein-infection.html#jCp

NIH: without budget cuts, we’d have Ebola vaccine

By Fiona Barry, 22-Oct-2014

The head of the US National Institutes of Health has said the organisation would have developed a finished Ebola vaccine by now if its funding had not been slashed over the last decade.

Landmark CDC Report Details Threat of ‘Postantibiotic Era’

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its “landmark” report today on the rising and lethal threat of antibiotic resistance, titled Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013.

The report describes a complex problem and the steps that must be taken to prevent catastrophic consequences.

In it, experts describe “what happens when the microbes can outsmart our best antibiotics,” explained CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, at a press conference. He elaborated by describing his hope that the report will prioritize pathogens and propel action to curb antibiotic resistance.

New Blood-vessel-generating Stem Cell with Therapeutic Potential

Researchers at the University of Helsinki, Finland, believe they have discovered stem cells that play a decisive role in new blood vessel growth. If researchers learn to isolate and efficiently produce these stem cells found in blood vessel walls, the cells offer new opportunities in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, cancer and many other diseases. The study is published in the PLOS Biology journal on 16 October 2012.

Biologists Produce Malaria Vaccine From Algae

Biologists at the University of California, San Diego have succeeded in engineering algae to produce potential candidates for a vaccine that would prevent transmission of the parasite that causes malaria, an achievement that could pave the way for the development of an inexpensive way to protect billions of people from one of the world’s most prevalent and debilitating diseases. Initial proof-of-principle experiments suggest that such a vaccine could prevent malaria transmission.   Read the report of their research in PLoS ONE. 

Research on Use of Snake-Venom Peptide for Heart Attack Treatment

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded a $2.5 million grant to Mayo Clinic’s Cardiorenal Research Laboratory to conduct a highly innovative research project, “Cardiovascular Peptides and Myocardial Infarction.” The research will seek to further understand the potential of a novel, engineered guanylyl cyclase (GC) activator, cenderitide, to reduce the level of cardiac and renal injury following a myocardial infarction, or heart attack. Researchers will try to determine whether the therapy could help prevent deterioration of cardiac and renal function following a heart attack, and potentially reduce further heart failure in the future in treated patients.

Mayo researchers invented cenderitide to activate two different subtypes of GC receptors, which uniquely differentiates cenderitide from other GC stimulating peptides. Cenderitide, a designer peptide derived from the venom of the green mamba snake, may aid in the preservation of cardiac and renal function following serious cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and acute decompensated heart failure. 

See the announcement at the Mayo Clinic website.

 

New Study Sheds Light On Critical Nature Of DNA Methylation On Brain Development

For the first time, scientists have tracked the activity, across the lifespan, of an environmentally responsive regulatory mechanism that turns genes on and off in the brain’s executive hub. Among key findings of the study by National Institutes of Health scientists: genes implicated in schizophrenia and autism turn out to be members of a select club of genes in which regulatory activity peaks during an environmentally-sensitive critical period in development. The mechanism, called DNA methylation, abruptly switches from off to on within the human brain’s prefrontal cortex during this pivotal transition from fetal to postnatal life. As methylation increases, gene expression slows down after birth.

Read about it in NIH News.

National Academies Select New Executive Officer

WASHINGTON– Bruce B. Darling, currently vice president for laboratory management at the University of California, will soon join the National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council as executive officer.  His transition from the university to NAS will occur over the next several months.  He will succeed E. William Colglazier, who now serves as science and technology adviser at the U.S. Department of State.    Read More. 

Project To Develop Metagenomics Tool For Rapid Identification of Microbes

 Battelle Memorial Institute (Columbus, Ohio) announced that it has made an investment of an undisclosed amount in CosmosID for the development of a metagenomics software-based solution for microbial identification.

The investment from Battelle is part of $4 million in financing that CosmosID recently received to support its efforts “to deliver pathogen identification in a single, rapid, and accurate service,” Battelle said, adding that it is partnering with the College Park, Md.-based company to develop and market microbial metagenomics toolkits for public safety and medical treatment applications.

CosmosID’s technology called MetaSeq Genomics uses unassembled reads from next-generation sequencing, probabilistic algorithms, and reference databases to identify pathogens, and antibiotic resistance and virulence factors. The software, which is scalable and updated iteratively, is targeted for diagnostic test development in the markets of public safety and security, medical treatment, environmental monitoring, and drug development, Battelle said.

Privately held CosmosID was founded in 2007 by Rita Colwell, former director of the US National Science Foundation and currently distinguished professor at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Maryland.

Natural Dye Obtained from Lichens May Combat Alzheimer’s Disease

A red dye derived from lichens that has been used for centuries to color fabrics and food appears to reduce the abundance of small toxic protein aggregates in Alzheimer’s disease. The dye, a compound called orcein, and a related substance, called O4, bind preferentially to small amyloid aggregates that are considered to be toxic and cause neuronal dysfunction and memory impairment in Alzheimer’s disease. O4 binding to small aggregates promotes their conversion into large, mature plaques which researchers assume to be largely non-toxic for neuronal cells.  Read  the full story in NATURE CHEMICAL BIOLOGY.