ASCLS eNewsBytes
Oct. 28, 2014

New gene linked to blindness and Parkinson's diseases
Medical News Today
The retinal pigment epithelium is a tissue, which lines the back of the eye. Aging, environmental insults and genetic predispositions contribute to blindness diseases causing retinal pigment epithelium degeneration, such as age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. The findings, published online Oct. 24 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, provide a tantalizing genetic link between a multifunctional protein, called Ranbp2, and retinal pigment epithelium degeneration and Parkinson's diseases.More

New gene therapy for 'bubble boy' disease appears to be safe, effective
HealthCanal
A new form of gene therapy for boys with X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome, a life-threatening condition also known as "bubble boy" disease, appears to be both effective and safe, according to an international clinical trial with sites in Boston, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, London and Paris. Early data published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that the therapy may avoid the late-developing leukemia seen in a quarter of SCID-X1 patients in previous gene-therapy trials in Europe that took place more than a decade ago. More

Ebola's evolutionary roots more ancient than previously thought
University at Buffalo via ScienceDaily
A new study is helping to rewrite Ebola's family history. It shows that Ebola and Marburg are each members of ancient evolutionary lines, and that these two viruses last shared a common ancestor sometime prior to 16-23 million years ago.More

Scientists engineer toxin-secreting stem cells to treat brain tumors
Harvard University via Medical Xpress
Harvard Stem Cell Institute scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital have devised a new way to use stem cells in the fight against brain cancer. A team led by neuroscientist Dr. Khalid Shah, who recently demonstrated the value of stem cells loaded with cancer-killing herpes viruses, now has a way to genetically engineer stem cells so that they can produce and secrete tumor-killing toxins.More

Gene scan helps diagnose mystery disorders in children
HealthDay News
A new test that scans all of a person's genes to pinpoint a single mutation can help identify rare genetic disorders in children, a new study shows. Audrey Lapidus and her husband grew concerned when their son didn't roll over or crawl by the time he was 10 months old. He also had chronic digestive problems. A series of tests didn't provide any answers.More

Shorter tuberculosis treatment not a successful alternative
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine via Infection Control Today
A clinical drug trial conducted in five sub-Saharan African countries shows that a shortened treatment for tuberculosis is well-tolerated and may work well in subsets of tuberculosis patients, but overall could not be considered as an alternative to the current six-month standard treatment. The results of the study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.More

Human skin cells reprogrammed directly into brain cells
Lab Manager
Scientists have described a way to convert human skin cells directly into a specific type of brain cell affected by Huntington's disease, an ultimately fatal neurodegenerative disorder. Unlike other techniques that turn one cell type into another, this new process does not pass through a stem cell phase, avoiding the production of multiple cell types, the study's authors report.More

New gene therapy for 'bubble boy' disease appears to be safe, effective
HealthCanal
A new form of gene therapy for boys with X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome, a life-threatening condition also known as "bubble boy" disease, appears to be both effective and safe, according to an international clinical trial with sites in Boston, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, London and Paris. Early data published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that the therapy may avoid the late-developing leukemia seen in a quarter of SCID-X1 patients in previous gene-therapy trials in Europe that took place more than a decade ago. More

Scientists explain how rabies 'hijacks' neurons to attack the brain
Tel Aviv University via Infection Control Today
Rabies causes acute inflammation of the brain, producing psychosis and violent aggression. The virus, which paralyzes the body's internal organs, is always deadly for those unable to obtain vaccines in time. Some 55,000 people die from rabies every year. For the first time, Tel Aviv University scientists have discovered the exact mechanism this killer virus uses to efficiently enter the central nervous system, where it erupts in a toxic explosion of symptoms.More

Genomic sequencing: Could it aid breast cancer prevention?
Medical News Today
Breast cancer screening, such as mammography, is important for determining a woman's risk for the disease, but such screening can sometimes produce inconsistent results. Now, a new study claims genomic sequencing could be useful for identifying women who are most likely to benefit from screening, and it could also offer women a chance to reduce their risk of breast cancer.More

Scientists identify a promising target for HIV/AIDS treatment
Salk Institute via Medical Xpress
VideoBriefLike a slumbering dragon, HIV can lay dormant in a person's cells for years, evading medical treatments only to wake up and strike at a later time, quickly replicating itself and destroying the immune system. Scientists at the Salk Institute have uncovered a new protein that participates in active HIV replication, as detailed in the latest issue of Genes & Development. The new protein, called Ssu72, is part of a switch used to awaken HIV-1 from its slumber.More