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In the News

Research advances from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Intramural Research Program (IRP) often make headlines. Read the news releases that describe our most recent findings:

Monday, June 19, 2017

NIH-supported research suggests potential treatment strategy.

Researchers have identified mutations in a gene called CARD11 that lead to atopic dermatitis, or eczema, an allergic skin disease. Scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and other institutions discovered the mutations in four unrelated families with severe atopic dermatitis and studied the resulting cell-signaling defects that contribute to allergic disease. Their findings, reported in Nature Genetics, also suggest that some of these defects potentially could be corrected by supplementation with the amino acid glutamine.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Results suggest possible new treatment approach.

Glutamine supplements can suppress reactivation of herpes simplex virus (HSV) in mice and guinea pigs, according to findings recently published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The research was conducted by scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

There is no cure for infection with HSV-1 and HSV2, viruses that can cause recurrent outbreaks of cold sores and genital sores in humans. Although antiviral medications can help shorten outbreaks, the virus persists in the body and can reactivate, which underscores the need for new treatment approaches. Prior research demonstrated the importance of HSV-specific T cells for controlling recurrent HSV outbreaks, and that activated T cells require increased metabolism of glutamine (an amino acid produced by the body and found in food). Therefore, the authors speculated that glutamine supplementation might increase T-cell function and improve infection control.

 Procapsid and Mature Capsid.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is caused by a faulty gene that leads to progressive muscle weakness.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med) have demonstrated that a drug originally targeted unsuccessfully to treat cancer may have new life as a potential treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).

The candidate drug, SU9516, represents a different kind of approach for treating DMD, a degenerative muscle disease that usually begins in childhood and has no known cure. It is caused by a faulty gene that leads to progressive muscle weakness, with death often occurring around age 25. Rather than trying to fix or replace the broken gene, SU9516 ramps up the muscle repair process, helping reinforce muscle structure.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Unusual case provides insight into leading cause of acute illness worldwide.

Scientists have identified a rare genetic mutation that results in a markedly increased susceptibility to infection by human rhinoviruses (HRVs) — the main causes of the common cold. Colds contribute to more than 18 billion upper respiratory infections worldwide each year, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study.

Researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, identified the mutation in a young child with a history of severe HRV infections. The case, published online today in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, reveals an important mechanism by which the immune system responds to these viruses, say the study authors.

Photo of an assortment of cold medicines beside a box of tissues.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Children born to women with gestational diabetes whose diet included high proportions of refined grains may have a higher risk of obesity by age 7, compared to children born to women with gestational diabetes who ate low proportions of refined grains, according to results from a National Institutes of Health study. These findings, which appear online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, were part of the Diabetes & Women’s Health Study, a research project led by NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Gestational diabetes, or high blood sugar during pregnancy, affects about 5 percent of all pregnancies in the United States and may lead to health problems for mothers and newborns. The authors noted that previous studies have linked diets high in refined grains — such as white rice — to obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

A sliced loaf of bread.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Children born to women who had gestational diabetes and drank at least one artificially sweetened beverage per day during pregnancy were more likely to be overweight or obese at age 7, compared to children born to women who had gestational diabetes and drank water instead of artificially sweetened beverages, according to a study led by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. Childhood obesity is known to increase the risk for certain health problems later in life, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers. The study appears online in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Studies of epilepsy patients uncover clues to how the brain remembers.

In a pair of studies, scientists at the National Institutes of Health explored how the human brain stores and retrieves memories. One study suggests that the brain etches each memory into unique firing patterns of individual neurons. Meanwhile, the second study suggests that the brain replays memories faster than they are stored. The studies were led by Kareem Zaghloul, M.D., Ph.D., a neurosurgeon-researcher at the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Finding may lead to therapies that prevent pituitary tumor recurrence.

A small study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health suggests that mutations in the gene CABLES1 may lead to Cushing syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body overproduces the stress hormone cortisol. The study appears online in Endocrine-Related Cancer.

The excess cortisol found in Cushing syndrome can result from certain steroid medications or from tumors of the pituitary or adrenal glands. Symptoms of the disease include obesity, muscle weakness, fatigue, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, depression and anxiety.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Real-time imaging of influenza infection in mice is a promising new method to quickly monitor disease progression and to evaluate whether candidate vaccines and treatments are effective in this animal model, according to National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists. A group from the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) evaluated the live imaging system as a potential alternative to traditional methods of assessing investigative influenza vaccines and treatment in mice, which can be time consuming and require more study animals for valid statistical comparison.

A photo of the large IVIS imaging system.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Scientists modified an existing vaccine to more closely mimic the protein complex used by the parasite.

Researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, modified an experimental malaria vaccine and showed that it completely protected four of eight monkeys who received it against challenge with the virulent Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite. In three of the remaining four monkeys, the vaccine delayed when parasites first appeared in the blood by more than 25 days.

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