Archive for July 2010

Biologists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have demonstrated a connection between multiple sclerosis (MS)—an autoimmune disorder that affects the brain and spinal cord—and gut bacteria.

The work—led by Sarkis K. Mazmanian, an assistant professor of biology at Caltech, and postdoctoral scholar Yun Kyung Lee—appears online the week of July 19󈞃 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In the absence of bacteria in the intestines, pro-inflammatory Th17 cells do not develop in either the gut or the central nervous system; and animals do not develop disease (top panel). When animals are colonized with symbiotic segmented filamentous bacteria, Th17 cell differentiation is induced in the gut. Th17 cells promote experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, an animal model for multiple sclerosis. In this way, non-pathogenic bacteria of the microbiota promote disease by shaping the immune response in both the gut and the brain (top panel). Credit: Lee, Mazmanian/Caltech; modified from Savidge TC et al. Laboratory Investigation 2007

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Today at the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria, members of the International Rectal Microbicide Advocates (IRMA) and thousands of other HIV advocates and scientists cheered a long-awaited, much anticipated success in the quest for new HIV prevention technologies. Researchers announced that a vaginal gel has been shown to significantly reduce a woman’s risk of being infected with HIV and genital herpes.

These game-changing results of the safety and effectiveness study of an antiretroviral microbicide gel were reported by the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA). Read the rest of this entry »

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