IRP Vaccine Research Stretches Back to the NIH’s Birth
Monday, May 18, 2020
Over the past few months, the world has gained a new appreciation for the long, difficult process of producing vaccines as it waits anxiously for one that will provide protection from the novel coronavirus. With the NIH Vaccine Research Center’s efforts to develop a COVID19 vaccine drawing a huge amount of media attention, it is easy to forget that the IRP has been making vital contributions to vaccine development for more than 100 years. These efforts have helped produce vaccinations for smallpox, rubella, hepatitis A, whooping cough, human papillomavirus (HPV), and several other diseases. Read on for a visual journey through the history of IRP vaccine research.
Scientists Parse Wide-Ranging Effects of Endometrial Cancer Mutation
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
The so-called ‘butterfly effect’ supposes that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can cause a tornado in Texas. While the jury is still out on insect-induced natural disasters, it is clear that a single genetic mutation can have wide-ranging and unexpected consequences throughout a cell. By examining the ripple effects caused by changes in a particular gene, IRP researchers have identified a potential treatment target for a particularly deadly variety of cancer.
Hundreds of Young Researchers Present Their Work Online
Wednesday, May 6, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered the way scientists are doing their work. Nevertheless, scientific research is a highly collaborative and interactive enterprise, so it remains essential for researchers to share and discuss their ideas and discoveries.
Every spring, the NIH’s Postbac Poster Day offers recent college graduates participating in the NIH’s Postbaccalaureate IRTA program the chance to show off the fruits of their labors and talk about their projects with both their fellow postbacs and the NIH’s many seasoned scientific veterans. Due to the need to maintain social distancing, the NIH's Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE) went through considerable effort to move this year’s Postbac Poster Day to an online forum. The OITE staff's hard work paid off handsomely, with more than 870 postbacs presenting their research via WebEx on April 28, 29, and 30. Keep reading for a few examples of the fascinating scientific questions NIH’s latest crop of postbacs has been investigating.
Cells From Bone Marrow Calm Damaging Immune Response
Tuesday, April 28, 2020
In patients with the inflammatory disease sarcoidosis, the body’s own immune cells rampage around the body like The Incredible Hulk set loose in a city, attacking both harmful pathogens and our own tissues. However, just like the Black Widow can calm The Hulk down and return him to human form in the Avengers films, cells isolated from our bone marrow may be able to change certain immune cells from a damaging state to a benign one, according to new IRP research.
New Studies Will Help Efforts to Contain and Treat COVID-19
Monday, April 20, 2020
Most of the time, science is a slow process, with many experiments taking years to yield results. However, as endeavors like the Manhattan Project have shown, scientists can dramatically accelerate the pace of discovery when necessary. Over the past few months, the novel coronavirus pandemic has spurred a burst of research from scientists around the world, including numerous IRP studies. Read on for a round-up of the latest IRP COVID-19 research and learn how IRP investigators are assisting in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
Study Suggests New Treatment Strategy for Increasingly Common Disease
Monday, April 6, 2020
In the classic sci-fi film Alien, the protagonist attempts to destroy the titular monster by triggering the self-destruct mechanism on her spaceship. Our cells also sometimes need to destroy themselves in order to circumvent threats like cancer, but uncontrolled cell death can lead to disease. New IRP research suggests that preventing certain cells in the pancreas from tripping their self-destruct switch could help relieve the symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Infectious Disease Expert Interviewed by NBA Superstar
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
As the COVID-19 illness has continued to spread, so has anxiety, fear, and uncertainty. Now more than ever, we need communicators who can provide clear explanations about the latest research and public health guidelines.
IRP senior investigator Anthony Fauci, Ph.D., has been one of the most prominent voices providing information about the novel coronavirus over the past several weeks. Dr. Fauci, who serves as director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), seems to be doing everything he can to make sure the American public has the best information available about the current situation, from speaking at White House press briefings to appearing on television shows like The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Last Thursday, March 26, Dr. Fauci participated in a live Q&A with NBA superstar Stephen Curry on Curry’s Instagram page. Read on for a few highlights from their discussion, or click on the video below to watch the entire conversation.
Mouse Study Suggests Approach to Protect Cancer Patients’ Hearing
Tuesday, March 24, 2020
The internet is filled with lists of ‘life hacks’ that provide instructions on how to re-purpose common items, from turning glass jars into flower vases to using sticky notes to remove dust or crumbs from the crevices of a computer keyboard. On occasion, this kind of inventive spirit can be used to improve human health as well. IRP researchers have found evidence in mice that a statin medication originally created to lower cholesterol might also reduce hearing loss caused by a common cancer therapy.
The IRP’s Mario Roederer and Robert Seder Discuss the Science Behind the Headlines
Monday, March 23, 2020
Some say that if something’s not broken, then don’t fix it, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement. At least, those were the thoughts of IRP senior investigators Mario Roederer, Ph.D., and Robert Alan Seder, M.D., who recently found that the century-old tuberculosis (TB) vaccine is far more effective when administered via injection into a vein (IV) rather than into the skin, which has long been the standard way it is given. This major breakthrough received extensive media coverage, including a story in the New York Times. We went Behind the Headlines to get the inside scoop on this potentially life-saving discovery.
Four Questions with Dr. Niki Moutsopoulos
Friday, March 20, 2020
Our mouths are teeming with bacteria, a microbial ecosystem known as the oral microbiome. While these microbes are typically benign, under certain circumstances they can turn harmful and contribute to oral diseases such as periodontitis, a form of chronic gum disease characterized by microbe-driven inflammation of the soft tissues and bone that support our teeth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 65 million Americans aged 30 or older have some degree of periodontitis. In its early stage, known as gingivitis, the gums become swollen and red due to inflammation, which is the body’s natural response to the presence of bacteria. If the condition worsens, it can lead to loose teeth and, eventually, bone or tooth loss.
NIH senior investigator Niki Moutsopoulos, Ph.D., head of the Oral Immunity and Inflammation Section at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), studies periodontitis and aims to understand the immune system’s role in driving this destruction. In a 2018 study, she and her team of IRP researchers and outside collaborators discovered that an abnormal and unhealthy population of microbes in the mouth causes specialized immune cells, known as T helper 17 (Th17) cells, to trigger inflammation and destroy tissue, leading to periodontitis.