Wednesday, November 8, 2017
River blindness, or onchocerciasis, is a disease caused by a parasitic worm found primarily in Africa. The worm (Onchocerca volvulus) is transmitted to humans as immature larvae through bites of infected black flies. Symptoms of infection include intense itching and skin nodules. Left untreated, infections in the eye can cause vision impairment that leads to blindness. Mass distribution of ivermectin is currently used to treat onchocerciasis. However, this treatment can be fatal when a person has high blood levels of another filarial worm, Loa loa. In a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine, scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and other organizations describe how a cell phone-based videomicroscope can provide fast and effective testing for L. loa parasites in the blood, allowing these individuals to be protected from the adverse effects of ivermectin.
Monday, November 6, 2017
NIH study shows connections between glucose metabolism, Alzheimer’s pathology, symptoms.
For the first time, scientists have found a connection between abnormalities in how the brain breaks down glucose and the severity of the signature amyloid plaques and tangles in the brain, as well as the onset of eventual outward symptoms, of Alzheimer’s disease. The study was supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, and appears in the Nov. 6, 2017, issue of Alzheimer's & Dementia: the Journal of the Alzheimer's Association.
Led by Madhav Thambisetty, M.D., Ph.D., investigator and chief of the Unit of Clinical and Translational Neuroscience in the NIA’s Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience, researchers looked at brain tissue samples at autopsy from participants in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA), one of the world’s longest-running scientific studies of human aging. The BLSA tracks neurological, physical and psychological data on participants over several decades.
Scientists found potential connections between problems with how the brain processes glucose and Alzheimer’s disease pathology and symptoms.
Monday, November 6, 2017
Nápoles will be NIH’s first Latina Scientific Director.
Dr. Anna Nápoles
The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) announced the appointment of Anna María Nápoles, Ph.D., M.P.H., as scientific director of its Division of Intramural Research (DIR), making her the first Latina named to the position at the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Nápoles joins NIMHD from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) where she served as a professor and behavioral epidemiologist in the Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine since 2001. She has been at the forefront of developing methods for community-engaged, translational research to improve the health of disparity populations that build community capacity to deliver culturally suitable, evidence-based behavioral interventions.
Dr. Nápoles brings more than 30 years of experience in research on patient-clinician communication, cancer control health disparities, psycho-oncology, and community-based models of research in racially and ethnically diverse populations, as well as socioeconomically diverse groups. She has served as a scientific advisor to numerous NIH and non-NIH funded research projects, advising on the use of advanced qualitative and quantitative methods for studying complex socio-behavioral processes that affect the health of disparity populations.
Following an extensive national search for this appointment, Dr. Nápoles will begin her appointment on Nov. 13. In her new role Dr. Nápoles will focus on population health with an emphasis on social, behavioral, and clinical research while utilizing the robust basic science environment at NIH. She will also oversee the executive direction and scientific leadership for the entire intramural research program at NIMHD.
Thursday, October 26, 2017
The deadliest malaria parasite needs two proteins to infect red blood cells and exit the cells after it multiplies, a finding that may provide researchers with potential new targets for drug development, according to researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health. Their study appears in the latest issue of Science.
Plasmodium falciparum, the species of parasite that causes the most malaria deaths worldwide, has developed drug-resistance in five countries in Southeast Asia.
In the current study, researchers sought to uncover the role of plasmepsins IX and X, two of the 10 types of plasmepsin proteins produced by P. falciparum for metabolic and other processes. They created malaria parasites that lacked plasmepsin IX or X under experimental conditions and compared them to those that had the two proteins.
Monday, October 23, 2017
Behaviors and brain activity consistent between mothers from different countries.
Infant cries activate specific brain regions related to movement and speech, according to a National Institutes of Health study of mothers in 11 countries. The findings, led by researchers at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), identify behaviors and underlying brain activities that are consistent among mothers from different cultures. Understanding these reactions may help in identifying and treating caregivers at risk for child maltreatment and other problematic behaviors.
The study team conducted a series of behavioral and brain imaging studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In a group of 684 new mothers in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Cameroon, France, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, South Korea and the United States, researchers observed and recorded one hour of interaction between the mothers and their 5-month-old babies at home. The team analyzed whether mothers responded to their baby’s cries by showing affection, distracting, nurturing (like feeding or diapering), picking up and holding, or talking. Regardless of which country they came from, mothers were likely to pick up and hold or talk to their crying infant.
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
NIH-Led meeting identifies knowledge gaps, development goals.
Scientists and clinicians from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the California Institute of Technology discuss key considerations for developing a universal influenza vaccine in a meeting report appearing in the October 17 issue of Immunity. The report summarizes discussions from a workshop NIAID held June 28-29, 2017, in Rockville, Maryland, entitled, “Pathway to a Universal Influenza Vaccine.” The workshop brought together U.S. and international experts from academia, industry and government to identify knowledge gaps in influenza research and to set goals to fill these knowledge gaps. NIAID will use the report to develop a strategic plan and research agenda aimed at the development of a universal influenza vaccine.
Caption: Colorized transmission electron micrograph showing H1N1 influenza virus particles
Monday, October 16, 2017
Women who have had gestational diabetes may be able to reduce or even eliminate their risk for cardiovascular disease by following a healthy lifestyle in the years after giving birth, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. The researchers analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study II, following health habits and medical history of more than 90,000 women from before pregnancy through middle age and the early senior years. The study confirms the links between gestational diabetes and cardiovascular disease found by other studies. It also provides some of the strongest evidence to date that cardiovascular disease after gestational diabetes isn’t inevitable for women who adopt a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, exercise moderately and do not smoke.
The study was led by Cuilin Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., of the Division of Intramural Population Health Research at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and colleagues. It appears in the latest issue of JAMA Internal Medicine.
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Findings may shed light on how genes repair DNA damage caused by UV radiation.
In the first study of its kind, an international team of genomics researchers has identified new regions of the human genome that are associated with skin color variation in some African populations, opening new avenues for research on skin diseases and cancer in all populations. These findings may help researchers determine if humans with certain DNA sequences are more or less susceptible to DNA damage caused by ultraviolet radiation (UVR) or respond to cellular stress differently. National Institutes of Health researchers contributed to this effort, led by Sarah Tishkoff, Ph.D., at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The findings were published October 12, 2017, in the journal Science.
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
NIH reports final data from large clinical trial in West Africa.
Results from a large randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial in Liberia show that two candidate Ebola vaccines pose no major safety concerns and can elicit immune responses by one month after initial vaccination that last for at least one year. The findings, published in the October 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, are based on a study of 1,500 adults that began during the West Africa Ebola outbreak. The trial is being conducted by a U.S.-Liberia clinical research collaboration known as the Partnership for Research on Ebola Virus in Liberia (PREVAIL), established in 2014 in response to the request from the Liberian Minister of Health to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. The trial is sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and involves scientists and clinicians from Liberia and the United States.
Caption: A volunteer receives an injection in the PREVAIL Ebola vaccine clinical trial in Liberia. Credit: PREVAIL
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Hormones linked to onset of menopause not associated with chances of conception.
Tests that estimate ovarian reserve, or the number of a woman’s remaining eggs, before menopause, do not appear to predict short-term chances of conception, according to a National Institutes of Health-funded study of women with no history of infertility. The study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“Women are born with a set number of eggs that gradually declines through the reproductive years,” said Esther Eisenberg, M.D., of the Fertility and Infertility Branch of NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which funded the study. “This study suggests that testing for biomarkers of ovarian reserve does not predict the chances for conception in older women still of reproductive age.”