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THE BIOWORLD BIOME: Our Habitat for All Things Science

YOGURT VS. MOSQUITO

The composition of the microbiome influenced whether animals infected with the malaria parasite developed severe disease, researchers from the University of Louisville have reported in the Feb. 8, 2016, online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

USE IT OR LOSE IT

HONG KONG – Neurobiologists at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) have discovered a novel strategy to promote axon regeneration after central nervous system (CNS) injury, which could lead to the development of potentially clinically useful non-invasive methods to stimulate neuronal activity and eventually the possible repair of spinal injury.

DENYING SANCTUARY

The success of antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a modern miracle, turning HIV – for those who have access to treatment, at least – from a death sentence into a chronic illness. ART does not, however, cure patients. HIV is undetectable in the blood of patients who are successfully treated with ART.

GROWING UP FAST

Chinese researchers have reported the creation of two generations of transgenic macaque monkeys bearing a gene duplication of the MeCP2 gene. In humans, MeCP2 duplication syndrome is a childhood neurological disorder that is part of the autism spectrum, and the monkeys showed some of the behavioral symptoms that are typical of MeCP2 duplication syndrome, though they lacked the cognitive symptoms that are a prominent feature of the disorder in humans.

TAKES TWO TO TENSE

HONG KONG – Japanese researchers have discovered that increased heterodimerization between angiotensin type 1 (AT1) receptors and purinergic P2Y6 receptors with age promotes hypertension induced by angiotensin II (ATII), and compounds that disrupt heterodimerization may be attractive new drug candidates to treat hypertension. 

CHANNELING YOUR INNER STEM CALL

Macrophages are able to retain a youthful ability to divide by accessing the same gene expression networks as embryonic stem (ES) cells, researchers from the German Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine and the French Centre d’Immunologie have discovered. Immune cells have a high turnover rate as well as the ability to expand massively in response to infection.

KEYTRUDA: KEY TO NEURODEGENERATION?

Treating mouse models of Alzheimer's disease with an antibody that blocks PD-1, the same molecule targeted by Merck & Co Inc.'s Keytruda (pembrolizumab), helped them clear amyloid plaque and improved their cognitive performance, scientists from the Israeli Weizmann Institute of Science reported in the Jan. 18, 2016, issue of Nature Medicine.

ANTIFUNGAL ANTIBIOTIC

HONG KONG — Chinese researchers have discovered that an antifungal drug can efficiently block bacterial virulence due to Staphylococcus aureus infections, including those caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains of the bacterium, in mouse models of infection, they reported in the Jan. 18, 2015, edition of Nature Chemical Biology.

DON'T SPREAD IT AROUND

T cells can see Mycobacterium tuberculosis. But not terribly well. And researchers from New York University School of Medicine have identified one reason why. In work published in the Jan. 14, 2016, online issue of Cell Host & Microbe, they reported that the activation of an antigen export pathway that is used by M. tuberculosis-infected dendritic cells to share antigens with uninfected dendritic cells did more harm than good overall.

Cast Your Vote

Should there be restrictions on the use of gene-editing technology?: