• Source of Haitian cholera outbreak identified

    Employing technology that reads the entire DNA code, researchers have pinpointed the source of a cholera outbreak in Haiti that killed more than 6,000 people and sickened 300,000; the researchers also suggest how to prevent future outbreaks when international aid is rushed to disaster areas

  • How did H1N1 become an pandemic?

    The last century has seen two major pandemics caused by the H1N1 virus — the Spanish Flu in 1918 and 2009’s Swine Flu scare, which had thousands travelling with surgical masks and clamoring for vaccination; scientists, however, did not know what distinguished the Swine Flu from ordinary influenza in pigs or seasonal outbreaks in humans, giving it the power to travel extensively and infect large populations; until now

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  • Software successfully predicted spread of West Nile virus in California

    A computer model of the spread of West Nile virus was able to predict areas where human cases would be concentrated, especially around Sacramento in 2005; the success of the model, say researchers, depended on its focus on biological factors and on a high volume of reports from members of the public

  • Medical silver bullet: New drug cures most viral infections

    Researchers at MIT’s Lincoln Lab have developed technology that may someday cure the common cold, influenza, and other ailments; the researchers tested their drug against fifteen viruses, and found it was effective against all of them — including rhinoviruses that cause the common cold, H1N1 influenza, a stomach virus, a polio virus, dengue fever, and several other types of hemorrhagic fever

  • Reversing metabolism to make biofuels at breakneck pace

    Engineers reverse E. coli metabolism for speedy production of fuels, chemicals; a Rice University’s team reversed one of the most efficient of all metabolic pathways — the beta oxidation cycle — to engineer bacteria that produce biofuel at a breakneck pace

  • Mosquitoes' last supper

    Inhibiting a molecular process cells use to direct proteins to their proper destinations causes more than 90 percent of affected mosquitoes to die within forty-eight hours of blood feeding; the approach could be used as an additional strategy in the worldwide effort to curb mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever, yellow fever, and malaria

  • New technology makes textiles permanently germ-free

    University of Georgia scientist develops a new technology that makes textiles permanently germ-free, targeting healthcare-associated infections; the new material effectively kills a wide spectrum of bacteria, yeasts, and molds that can cause disease, break down fabrics, create stains, and produce odors

  • Promise of vaccine against deadly malaria parasite

    Every year, 10,000 pregnant women and up to 200,000 newborn babies are killed by the malaria parasite; the body’s immune system normally attacks any foreign body, but since our spleen constantly filters our blood and removes ruined or deform blood cells, the body’s natural defense does not need to check the blood; the malaria parasite exploits this fact by using its advanced arsenal of protein hooks to attach itself to the inner side of the blood vessel; researchers find a soltuon

  • Confusing mosquitoes to fight mosquito-borne disease

    Female mosquitoes are efficient carriers of deadly diseases such as malaria, dengue and yellow fever, resulting each year in several million deaths and hundreds of millions of cases; to find human hosts to bite and spread disease, these mosquitoes use exhaled carbon dioxide as a vital cue; a disruption of the vital carbon dioxide detection machinery of mosquitoes, which would help control the spread of diseases they transmit, has been a long sought-after goal; University of California-Riverside scientists find a way to do just that

  • Decision on smallpox virus destruction delayed for three years

    After a second round of negotiations Tuesday, the World Health Assembly (WHA) agreed to postpone setting a date for destruction of the world’s remaining smallpox virus stocks for another three years; the assembly simultaneously reaffirmed previous statements that the virus stocks should be destroyed after “crucial research” is completed; several countries, mainly developing ones, pushed for immediate destruction of the smallpox virus stocks, while others suggested a short delay for setting a deadline; U.S. officials had introduced a resolution to retain the virus stocks for at least another five years to allow work on bioterrorism countermeasures to continue; U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius said, however, that the United States was committed to the eventual destruction of the virus stocks

  • Fate of last smallpox virus samples to be determined today

    The World Health Organization officially declared in 1979 that smallpox has been eradicated; in the three decades since the WHO declaration, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, and a Russian government laboratory near Novosibirsk have been the last two places to keep samples of the smallpox virus; during this time, there have been many calls by scientists and advocates to destroy these last samples — some of these calls accompanied by dark hints that the two countries wanted to hang on to the samples in order to use them as a basis for a future bio-weapon; the United States opposes the destruction, saying that the live samples are needed to develop vaccine with less adverse side effects as well as two other related drugs; a committee of the World Health Organization is meeting today in Geneva to make a decision

  • Secrets of plague unlocked with stunning new imaging techniques

    Sandia Labs researchers have developed a super-resolution microscopy technique that is answering long-held questions about exactly how and why a cell’s defenses fail against some invaders, such as plague, while successfully fending off others like E.coli

  • Researchers use app to map spread of infectious diseases

    Researchers in the United Kingdom are using cell phones to map how infectious diseases are spread to help tailor public health policies during a mass outbreak; researchers developed a special app, called FluPhone, for mobile phones that gathered medical data from the user as well as information on how they interacted with other people; the app provides a scientific method for measuring the social activity of an entire population in real-time; FluPhone app can also be used to run simulations on how a disease would actually spread

  • Social media helps CDC track Playboy Mansion disease outbreak

    Thanks to social media outlets, medical researchers are one step closer to discovering why more than 120 people were infected with a mysterious illness following a 3 February party at the Playboy Mansion; investigators suspect that the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease may have been the source of the outbreak after its presence was discovered in the grotto of the Playboy Mansion; officials used online tools like Twitter, Facebook, and online polling to help track the disease outbreak; these tools were particularly helpful because they allowed officials to quickly identify the outbreak, communicate quickly with conference goers who came from thirty countries, and to issue instructions for the infected

  • Promising anthrax treatment study results

    Researchers find that a multi-agent prophylaxis which is initiated within twenty-four hours after the infection, prevented the development of fatal anthrax respiratory disease; treatment which combines antibiotics with immunization and a protective antigen-based vaccine offered long-term immunity against the disease