Research Sheds Light on Cause of Brain Deficits in HIV Patients

Some HIV patients experience memory loss and other neurological deficits, despite treatment, and new research suggests that the reason why is because the virus weakens the blood-brain barrier by infecting a small group of supporting brain cells called astrocytes.   The finding, published in the June 29 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, may help explain why 40 percent to 60 percent of HIV patients on antiretroviral therapy experience mild to moderate neurological problems such as learning difficulties.

New Open Access Journal Supported by HHMI, Max Planck, Wellcome Trust

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society and the Wellcome Trust announced today that they are to support a new, top-tier, open access journal for biomedical and life sciences research.

The three organizations aim to establish a new journal that will attract and define the very best research publications from across these fields. All research published in the journal will make highly significant contributions that will extend the boundaries of scientific knowledge.

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Scientists reveal HIV weakness

Development of an HIV vaccine has been seriously hampered by the fact that the retrovirus mutates so rapidly.  In a new finding that may allow vaccine designers to sidestep part of that obstacle, researchers at the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT and Harvard University have identified sections of an HIV protein where mutations would actually undermine the virus’ fitness — its ability to survive and reproduce. Vaccines that prime immune cells to specifically target those vulnerable regions could prove much more effective than previously tested vaccines.   Read these latest HIV research findings in PNAS Early Online.

Fifty years ago at The Rockefeller Institute: Convocation 1961

At its third academic convocation, held on June 16, 1961, The Rockefeller Institute conferred the degree of doctor of philosophy on ten of its students, among whom were the first women to be graduated from the Institute.

Each one of ten members of the faculty described a candidate’s intellectual progression and the way in which studies in many fields of science ultimately led him or her to seek new knowledge and understanding through research.

The graduands, their wives, and their parents were guests of President and Mrs. Bronk at a buffet supper before the traditional Ball for the students on the night preceding the conferring of degrees. Following the ceremonies, the Trustees were hosts to those who attended the convocation at a luncheon in Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Hall.

President Bronk paid tribute during the ceremonies to the colleges and universities in which the graduates had pursued their undergraduate studies: Amherst, Barnard, Bowdoin, Columbia, Dartmouth, Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Michigan, Oberlin, Reed, and Smith.

In recognition of their scholarly achievements and the noble example they have set for youthful scholars, the degree of doctor of science, honoris causa, was conferred on Dr. Thomas M. Rivers, Director Emeritus of the Institute, as well as on Dr. Hugh S. Taylor, Dean of the Graduate School, Emeritus, of Princeton University.

Testing Technology: “Virtual” Clinical Trials

Pfizer has begun what it claims is the world’s first ‘virtual’ trial and says that such innovation is needed to make sure clinical research is sustainable.

The REMOTE trial, which is designed to assess Pfizer’s drug Detrol LA as a treatment for overactive bladder (OAB), uses mobile phone and web tech to record data from participants remotely rather than at clinics.  Data from the virtual study will be compared with those from two previous trials which used traditional clinic-based reporting protocols to see if the results can be replicated.  Pfizer spokesman Andrew Widger told that, if successful, the participatory patient-centred (PPC) model could offer considerable financial benefits.  As yet the virtual protocol has only been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but, according to Widger, Pfizer has “started to develop a similar model to be implemented in Europe in the near future.”

Expanding the horizon of chemotherapeutic targets: From MDM2 to MDMX (MDM4)

Antonio Macchiarulo, Nicola Giacchè, Andrea Carotti, Fabiola Moretti and Roberto Pellicciari

DOI: 10.1039/C0MD00238K

Alterations of p53 signalling pathway is the most frequent event in human cancers. About 50% of these, albeit showing wild-type p53, have flaws in the control mechanisms of p53 levels and activity. MDM2 and MDMX (MDM4) are the main negative regulators of p53. The relevance of MDM2 on the regulation of p53 levels and activity has fostered the development of strategies aimed at restoring p53 functions by blocking the physical interaction between MDM2 and p53. As a consequence, a number of different small molecules and peptidomimetics have been disclosed in the last decade as inhibitors of MDM2/p53 interaction. Recent studies, however, have thrust MDMX into the limelight as an additional chemotherapeutic target, suggesting the presence of a more complex relationship between MDM2, MDMX and p53. In this review article, we report key aspects of MDMX-mediated regulation of p53, recent advances in the structural characterization of the protein, and the progress made so far in the medicinal chemistry of MDMX ligands.

Death of New York Nobel Laureate: Rosalyn Yalow

Rosalyn Yalow, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine, has died, reports The New York Times. She was 89. At a time when women were discouraged from entering the science, Yalow received her doctorate in nuclear physics and then taught at Hunter College in New York City; she could not get a research position, the Times adds. She then moved to the Bronx Veterans Administration Hospital and began working with Solomon Berson. Together, they developed radioimmunoassays, and found that antibodies could recognize molecules as small as insulin, a finding that was regarded with skepticism. For this work developing radioummunassays, Yalow was the second woman to win the Nobel in medicine. “We are witnessing the birth of a new era of endocrinology, one that started with Yalow,” said the Karolinska Institute in Sweden upon awarding her the Nobel.

National Academies Press Makes All PDF Books Free to Download

As of today all PDF versions of books published by the National Academies Press will be downloadable to anyone free of charge. This includes a current catalog of more than 4,000 books plus all future reports printed by NAP. “Our business model has evolved so that is now financially viable to put this content out to the entire world for free,” said NAP executive director Barbara Kline Pope. “This is a wonderful opportunity to make a positive impact by more effectively sharing our knowledge and analysis.”