Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Three-part series airing in August portrays the hopes and setbacks of patients, doctors, and nurses seeking cures.
On August 10, Discovery will premiere First in Human, a three-part documentary on the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, providing an unprecedented, first-hand look at the successes and setbacks that are a part of developing brand-new medicines that may ultimately benefit millions worldwide. Over a period of a year, film crews embedded within the hospital follow four patients who volunteered to participate in experimental treatments in the hopes they will help them, or others in the future. The series also follows the dedicated doctors and nurses who carry out the research while caring for the patients. Narrated by Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory,” “Hidden Figures,”), First in Human will air August 10, 17 and 24 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
“For thousands of patients around the world, NIH is known as the National Institutes of Hope and I am delighted that Discovery’s series will educate the public on the bravery of our volunteer patients who are our partners in scientific discovery,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “This film depicts, in a very poignant way, the difficult decisions faced by many suffering from disease, and the profound contribution of research participants to improving treatments for all.”
Caption: Dr. Terry Fry, Head of the Hematologic Malignancies Section at the National Cancer Institute, discusses immunotherapy treatment with research participant Bo Cooper.
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have produced the first direct evidence that parts of our brains implicated in mental disorders may be shaped by a “residual echo” from our ancient past. The more a person’s genome carries genetic vestiges of Neanderthals, the more certain parts of his or her brain and skull resemble those of humans’ evolutionary cousins that went extinct 40,000 years ago, says NIMH’s Karen Berman, M.D. NIMH is part of the National Institutes of Health.
In particular, the parts of our brains that enable us to use tools and visualize and locate objects owe some of their lineage to Neanderthal-derived gene variants that are part of our genomes and affect the shape of those structures – to the extent that an individual harbors the ancient variants. But this may involve trade-offs with our social brain. The evidence from MRI scans suggests that such Neanderthal-derived genetic variation may affect the way our brains work today – and may hold clues to understanding deficits seen in schizophrenia and autism-related disorders, say the researchers.
Caption: MRI data shows (left) areas of the skull preferentially affected by the amount of Neanderthal-derived DNA and (right) areas of the brain’s visual system in which Neanderthal gene variants influenced cortex folding (red) and gray matter volume (yellow). Michael Gregory, M.D., NIMH Section on Integrative Neuroimaging
Monday, July 24, 2017
Today investigators at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) announced the opening of enrollment for a unique precision medicine clinical trial. NCI-COG Pediatric Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice (Pediatric MATCH) is a nationwide trial to explore whether targeted therapies can be effective for children and adolescents with solid tumors that harbor specific genetic mutations and have progressed during or after standard therapy. Pediatric MATCH will incorporate more than eight different study drugs, each targeting a predefined set of genetic mutations, to match patients with therapies aimed at the molecular abnormalities in their tumors.
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Biological basis is unknown but may be related to stress response, NIH researchers say.
How well cancer patients fared after chemotherapy was affected by their social interaction with other patients during treatment, according to a new study by researchers at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Cancer patients were a little more likely to survive for five years or more after chemotherapy if they interacted during chemotherapy with other patients who also survived for five years or more. Patients were a little more likely to die in less than five years after chemotherapy when they interacted during chemotherapy with those who died in less than five years. The findings were published online July 12, 2017, in the journal Network Science.
Monday, July 17, 2017
A new study led by scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, demonstrates that aldosterone, a hormone produced in the adrenal glands, may contribute to alcohol use disorder (AUD). The novel research, conducted in collaboration with a team of investigators in the United States and Europe, appears in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
Monday, July 17, 2017
Scientists have demonstrated how an investigational drug works against a rare, fatal genetic disease, Niemann-Pick type C1 (NPC1). They found that a closely related compound will activate an enzyme, AMPK, triggering a cellular “recycling” system that helps reduce elevated cholesterol and other accumulated fats in the brains and livers of NPC1 patients, which are hallmarks associated with severe neurological problems. The research was led by scientists at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), part of the National Institutes of Health, and their colleagues.
The work could lead to a new generation of potential therapies for NPC1 and other similar disorders, as well as neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. The scientists reported their findings online on July 17, 2017 in the journal Autophagy.
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Vaccines protect against Zika-related congenital damage.
Two experimental vaccines can restrict Zika virus transmission from pregnant mice to their fetuses and can prevent Zika virus-induced placental damage and fetal demise, according to new findings published July 13 in Cell. Scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis; the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB); and other partners conducted the research. They tested a live-attenuated vaccine candidate developed by UTMB and an mRNA vaccine candidate developed by the biotechnology company Moderna.
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
NIH discovery could lead to new drugs to prevent HIV infection.
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have discovered a key step in the process that HIV uses to inject its genetic material into cells. Working with cultures of cells and tissues, the researchers prevented the invasion process by chemically blocking this step, preventing HIV genetic material from entering cells. The findings could lead to the eventual development of new drugs to prevent HIV infection.
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
NIH study shows microbe living on the surface of the eye protects cornea from infection.
Bugs in your eyes may be a good thing. Resident microbes living on the eye are essential for immune responses that protect the eye from infection, new research shows. The study, which appears in the journal Immunity on June 27, demonstrates the existence of a resident ocular microbiome that trains the developing immune system to fend off pathogens. The research was conducted at the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health.
“This is the first evidence that a bacterium lives on the ocular surface long-term,” explained Rachel Caspi, Ph.D., senior investigator in NEI’s Laboratory of Immunology. “This work addresses a longstanding question about whether there is a resident ocular microbiome.”
Thursday, July 6, 2017
Rare disease research uncovers new mechanism underlying muscle development.
An international team of researchers has identified genomic mutations for Carey-Fineman-Ziter (CFZS) syndrome, a very rare congenital myopathy (inherited muscle disorder) characterized by facial weakness, a small or retracted chin, a cleft palate and curvature of the spine (scoliosis), among other symptoms. The researchers determined that CFZS is caused by mutations in the gene MYMK that encodes for the protein myomaker. This protein is necessary for the fusion of muscle cells (myoblasts) into muscle fibers (myotubes) during the development of an embryo and the regeneration of muscle cells after injury. The study was published July 6, 2017, in Nature Communications.