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THE BIOWORLD BIOME: Our Habitat for All Things Science

LONDON – The discovery of two genes which, when mutated, cause a type of muscular dystrophy is leading researchers closer to the cause of this condition and, ultimately, to ways in which it might be treated. A multinational team of scientists working on Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD) has identified two genes that, when mutated, appear to be linked with this disease.
Researchers have discovered that commensal bacteria of the human microbiome synthesize thousands of potentially drug-like small molecules, including at least one class, the thiopeptides, which is in clinical trials. The work appeared in the Sept. 11, 2014, advance online edition of Cell.
HONG KONG – A study by British and University of Hong Kong (HKU) researchers has provided the first direct evidence that reduced genetic diversity is associated with a reduction in virulence of the influenza A virus (IAV) in mice, providing a target for development of new antiviral drugs and a means to improve live attenuated vaccines.
LONDON – An experimental treatment in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis has delivered promising results, raising hopes that similar treatments could help patients with that and other autoimmune conditions, such as type 1 diabetes, Graves' disease and systemic lupus erythematosus. In autoimmune diseases, the cells of the immune system start to attack self-antigens.

A team of Korean researchers has used gene knockout techniques in mice to gain an improved understanding of the role played by the thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN) in absence seizures, which may lead to the development of effective new treatment methods for that form of epilepsy.

Using deep sequencing of candidate genes, researchers have identified mosaic mutations – mutations that exist in only some of the body's cells, because they arose as a result of a copying error during cell division rather than being present in the sperm or egg – in about a third of patients with malformations of the cerebral cortex.

Polio was declared an eradicable disease in 1988, and although the global polio eradication initiative missed its original goal of wiping the disease off the face of the planet by 2000, it certainly seems possible to get there.
LONDON – The scale of the current outbreak of Ebola presents a change in the development landscape for therapeutics, with a far greater demand for drugs than is realized, according to new epidemiological research.
Scientists have reported that Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp.'s experimental drug candidate TKM-Marburg (NP-718m–LNP) was able to prevent monkeys from becoming seriously ill after Marburg virus infection, even when treatment was not started until the animals showed signs of viremia.

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