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THE BIOWORLD BIOME: Our Habitat for All Things Science

Scientists have discovered a new checkpoint inhibitor that is downstream of p53, a transcription factor that is mutated in a large fraction of all cancers but has been notoriously hard to target therapeutically. Moreover, the protein – DD1 alpha – appears to connect two key processes, namely, the efficient removal of dead cells and the prevention of an immune response to those cells.
Two studies reported new links between the gut and the brain, describing new interrelationships among early life stress, depression and the microbiome. Once thought of as more or less a passenger, the microbiome – commensal bacteria that outnumber the body's own cells by a factor of at least 10 to one – is now recognized as a broad influence on many aspects of health.
HONG KONG– A newly discovered human monoclonal antibody (MAb) that can neutralize several different types of influenza A virus may represent a new antiviral treatment and potentially lead to the development of new more potent vaccines, according to a Chinese study reported in the July 21, 2015, issue of Nature Communications.

By following up a serendipitous discovery with detailed sequencing, scientists have been able to gain new insights into both a rare genetic disease, and a common immune system protein. In their work, the authors showed that the lipopolysaccharide-responsive and beige-like anchor protein (LRBA) controlled the processing of CTLA-4.

HONG KONG – The discovery by Japanese researchers of a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in a gene linked to increased susceptibility to adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS), could lead to the identification of new therapeutic targets for this common and currently incurable condition.
14? That number cannot be right. Turns out yes, that is in fact the level in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) of one person's low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), more commonly known as bad cholesterol. The optimal levels of LDLs are under 100 mg/dL, but 14 represents an alarmingly low measurement considering her mother's 49 score represents the <1 percentile.
In the big picture, there are certainly both carrots and sticks to encourage neuroscience drug development. In terms of carrots, the suffering that could be relieved by advances in neuroscience is enormous. The needs are huge," Ricardo Dolmetsch told the audience at a recent lecture at the National Institutes of Health.

HONG KONG – An oral cholera vaccine has been shown to be safe and protective against severe disease in children and adults in urban Bangladesh where the disease is endemic, supporting its use in mass immunization programs, according to the first real-life trial of the new Shanchol vaccine. 

LONDON – The first comprehensive genome profiling of small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) has revealed that the disease occurs when both copies of two separate tumor suppressor genes are switched off. The sequencing of 110 tumors in the largest study of the genomics of SCLC to date, found that in nearly all cases there was bi-allelic inactivation of TP53 (Tumor protein 53, or p53) and RB1 (Retinoblastoma 1).

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