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Potential vaccine readies immune system to kill tuberculosis in mice

Infections • • TuberculosisSep 05 11

A potential vaccine against tuberculosis has been found to completely eliminate tuberculosis bacteria from infected tissues in some mice. The vaccine was created with a strain of bacteria that, due to the absence of a few genes, are unable to avoid its host’s first-line immune response. Once this first-line defense has been activated, it triggers the more specific immune response that can protect against future infections.

The research, by scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Colorado State University, appears in the September 4, 2011, issue of Nature Medicine.

Tuberculosis, an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is a global health concern, accounting for 2-3 million deaths annually. One third of the world’s population is infected with the bacterium, and according to the World Health Organization, new infections occur at a rate of about one per second. Most people who are infected don’t get sick, because the immune system keeps the bacteria under control. However, people whose immune systems are weakened, such as those with HIV/AIDS, are highly susceptible to the active form of the infection. With staggering rates of HIV infection in some parts of the world, such as Africa, co-infection with TB is a serious problem. To make matters worse, some strains of M. tuberculosis have become resistant to every drug currently used to treat tuberculosis.

“We’re back to where we were before there were drugs for TB,” says William R. Jacobs, Jr., an HHMI investigator at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

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To treat rare disease, NIH scientists repurpose FDA-approved drug

ImmunologySep 02 11

WHAT: A new study reports that a drug already approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in patients undergoing a bone marrow transplant may also have promise for treating people who have a rare immune deficiency known as WHIM syndrome. People with the syndrome are more susceptible to potentially life-threatening bacterial and viral infections, particularly human papillomavirus infections, which cause skin and genital warts and can lead to cancer. The study was conducted by investigators at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Boys and girls are equally at risk of inheriting the genetic mutation that causes WHIM syndrome, and the disorder frequently affects multiple family members. Approximately 60 patients worldwide have been diagnosed with WHIM syndrome, 10 of whom are currently receiving care at NIH.

As a result of the inherited genetic mutation, the function of a molecule, called CXC chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4), increases. This in turn inhibits migration of neutrophils and other types of white blood cells from the bone marrow into the bloodstream. With fewer circulating immune cells, those with the disorder are less able to fight off infections.

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College Athlete Died of Head Trauma, Father Says

Public Health • • TraumaSep 01 11

A 22-year-old football player for Frostburg State University in Maryland has died from head trauma sustained on the field, his father said.

Nearly a week after passing out during a routine practice, fullback Derek Sheely died late Sunday at the University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

Kenneth Sheely, Derek’s father, said in a telephone interview from the family’s home in Germantown, Md., that he was told by doctors that Derek had sustained “severe head trauma.”

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F.T.C. Criticizes Agreements That Delay Generic Drugs

Drug NewsSep 01 11

Some drug makers are using an indirect method to delay competition from low-cost generic products by promising not to introduce their own generic versions if a potential competitor delays its entry into the market, the Federal Trade Commission said in a report on Wednesday.

Until lately, the so-called pay-for-delay cases have focused mostly on cash payments by drug companies to settle patent litigation with generic competitors in return for concessions on when to enter the market. These new agreements add a twist to the patent settlements.

The industry contends they are legal business decisions.

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