A study published in Molecular Therapy demonstrated that CRISPR-Cas9 can be used to delete HIV DNA from the genomes of living animals and prevent further infection. The technique worked in mouse models representing acute infection and latent infection, and senior investigator Kamel Khalili said the next step is to test the method in nonhuman primates and humans.
Zika virus persists in cerebrospinal fluid even after the virus has been eliminated from the blood, according to a study in rhesus monkeys published in Cell. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the findings pose the question, "If the virus can linger in the central nervous system even after people apparently recover, will we start seeing some subtle effects later on, or is it just going to be a phenomenon that is inconsequential clinically?"
Six cancer-related mutations have been found in tumor suppressor gene TP53 within 140 lines of human embryonic stem cells used for research, according to a study published in Nature. "Our findings indicate that an additional series of quality control checks should be implemented during the production of stem cells and their downstream use in developing therapies," said Kevin Eggan, a co-author of the study.
Researchers studying Caenorhabditis elegans worms and mouse models of spinal muscular atrophy found that the absence of survival motor neuron protein seen in the disease disrupts Gemin3 protein activity, which then interferes with regulation of a key motor neuron receptor. The findings, published in eLife, might point to new treatment targets, neuroscience professor Anne Hart said.
Yellow fever has re-emerged in Brazil, and some residents have killed monkeys under the mistaken belief that the animals are a transmission vector for the mosquito-borne disease. "Monkeys are a crucial alert mechanism that we monitor to deploy vaccines and prevention efforts to the right places," said Brazilian health official Renato Alves, and killing them makes matters worse for people, he added.
The CDC has fielded 75 reports of the tick-borne Powassan virus, which can cause life-threatening brain inflammation, most in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest. Experts believe the virus' range could be spreading and incidence may be higher than reports reflect, and they warn the transmission time is far shorter than for Lyme disease -- possibly as little as 15 minutes.
The NIH is establishing a point system and setting limits on grants any one investigator may receive at one time in an effort to fund more early- and midcareer scientists. The policy will free up funds for as many as 1,600 new grants and affect only about 6% of currently funded investigators, NIH Director Francis Collins wrote in a blog post announcing the policy.
A bill to fund the federal government through September includes an additional $2 billion for the NIH, despite President Donald Trump's request to cut $1.2 billion in NIH funding this fiscal year. The bill includes an additional $400 million for Alzheimer's disease research, $476 million more for the National Cancer Institute, $120 million more for the Precision Medicine Initiative and $110 million for the BRAIN initiative.
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