Bacteria-killing viruses: an army of disease-fighters within us?

Ever wonder why we make snot? Mucus lines our respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, acting as a sticky glue that traps unwanted substances before they can get into the body. However, research from Jeremy Barr’s lab in Melbourne, Australia has shown that there might be a lot more to the story of snot. Barr and his team have found that mucus contains a far higher concentration … Continue reading Bacteria-killing viruses: an army of disease-fighters within us?

Cancer Vaccines: How scientists are turning cancer against itself

by Cathy Gutierrez figures by Lillian Horin “The history of cancer vaccines is a history of failure.” This is the leading sentence of a 2005 article that summarized the history of cancer vaccines. Cancer vaccines have long been the Holy Grail of cancer research. For centuries, scientists have been devising ways to train the body to destroy tumors. Despite the success of early preventive cancer … Continue reading Cancer Vaccines: How scientists are turning cancer against itself

How Our Immune System Causes Heart Attacks (and Cancer)

by Giulia Notarangelo figures by Abagail Burrus A drug that might significantly reduce the risk of heart attack and lung cancer is being hailed by researchers as the biggest breakthrough in the treatment of cardiovascular disease since the introduction of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins over 30 years ago. Despite the fact that drug companies sell over $30 billion worth of statins annually, roughly 600,000 people still … Continue reading How Our Immune System Causes Heart Attacks (and Cancer)

Human Lymphocyte

Turning the Immune System into an Equal Opportunity Cancer Killer

Results from a small clinical trial comprising 86 cancer patients have prompted scientists to rethink how different cancers are classified and treated. The drug being assessed was Keytruda, a recent addition to oncologists’ arsenal of cancer immunotherapy drugs.  Unlike traditional chemotherapies, which poison and kill cancer cells directly, cancer immunotherapy recruits the body’s own self-defense machinery to attack tumors.  Although our immune systems are very good … Continue reading Turning the Immune System into an Equal Opportunity Cancer Killer

Ebola Virus

Virus Beware: Ebola Vaccine Successfully Developed

2016 was a tumultuous year in many respects, but it ended with a major victory against Ebola hemorrhagic fever.  Ebola’s most recent outbreak ravaged West Africa from 2013 to 2016, killing roughly two out of every five patients and tens of thousands of people in total.  Treatment options are limited once the disease takes hold, so researchers have been pursuing a vaccine that protects against … Continue reading Virus Beware: Ebola Vaccine Successfully Developed

Monoclonal antibodies

Blood test probes the immune system to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease

What can our immune system tell us about brain health?  Research from Rowan University suggests that the presence of particular antibodies, the means by which our bodies identify threats, can predict if mental decline is an early symptom of a neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’s.  The research team discovered a set of 50 antibodies that, in a proof-of-concept study, predicted whether a patient exhibiting mild cognitive … Continue reading Blood test probes the immune system to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease