Scientists are close to developing a universal vaccine for cancer. The vaccine, which sparked a strong immune response in mice, uses genetic code to train immune cells to recognize and fight specific cancers. "The vaccines are fast and inexpensive to produce, and virtually any tumor antigen can be encoded by RNA," said Ugur Sahin, lead author of the study published in Nature.
A novel treatment for HIV has been developed at the Oregon Health & Science University, and the research team is recruiting volunteers to be part of its first human clinical trials. The unique vaccine uses cytomegalovirus genetically modified to make it similar in form to HIV to get the body to attack HIV. The vaccine has had a 50%-60% success rate in curing infected monkeys, and OHSU aims to develop vaccines using similar methods for diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis C and herpes.
A study in Nature Communications describes early signs of Alzheimer's in mouse models that might allow the disease to be caught earlier in humans. The team documented a drop in mouse brain glucose utilization in the early stages of disease, and they say their use of transgenic mice likely allowed them to elucidate effects that might be difficult to spot in humans. The authors say earlier testing for Alzheimer's is critical to developing effective treatments for the disease, because in its later stages, brain changes are believed to be irreversible.
University of California at San Diego researcher Takeo Katsuki developed a technique for implanting a small glass window into the heads of fruit flies so he can observe brain activity while the insects engage in normal behaviors. Researchers have long worked with the organism to learn about human brain biology, but their ability to capture data from moving flies was limited. In addition to placing the window, Katsuki and his team developed a method for capturing data with video cameras while using a laser to activate fluorescent compounds. The procedure was described in Nature Methods.
Seventy percent of ventral palladium cells in rats responded to sensory stimuli associated with a sugar reward, according to a report published in Neuron by Johns Hopkins University researchers. Using optogenetics, the team then inactivated ventral palladium cells in the animals and saw that the reward-associated response was muted. The authors say the findings can help scientists understand and find treatments for binge eating and substance abuse in humans.
Saint Louis University cancer immunotherapy researchers say studying treatments in obese and older laboratory mice would help findings better translate to human populations. Most human cancer patients are 65 or older, and one-third of the US population is obese, characteristics that have been linked to higher likelihood of immunotherapy toxicity. A review in Trends in Immunology discusses the issue.
Dogs may have originated in both Europe and Asia, according to a new study published in Science. Researchers studied the DNA of 60 ancient dogs, including the genome of a canine that lived 4,800 years ago, as well as other DNA evidence. Scientists say further study is needed to clarify the findings.
The NIH would receive a funding boost of about $2 billion in this year's Senate health spending bill, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. The bill reportedly also includes an extra $100 million for the Precision Medicine Initiative and an extra $400 million for Alzheimer's disease research.
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