How CRISPR is tackling the troubling immune response that’s plagued gene therapy until now

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One of the major challenges facing gene therapy — a way to treat disease by replacing a patient’s defective genes with healthy ones — is that it is difficult to safely deliver therapeutic genes to patients without the immune system destroying the gene, and the vehicle carrying it, which can trigger life-threatening widespread inflammation.

Three decades ago researchers thought that gene therapy would be the ultimate treatment for genetically inherited diseases like hemophilia, sickle cell anemia, and genetic diseases of metabolism. But the technology couldn’t dodge the immune response.

Since then, researchers have been looking for ways to perfect the technology and control immune responses to the gene or the vehicle. However, many of the strategies tested so far have not been completely successful in overcoming this hurdle.

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Faster super-resolution microscope can see virus particles moving through a cell

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This image taken by the new microscope shows a living bone cancer cell with nucleus (blue), mitochondria (green) and cytoskeleton (magenta).

When you want to look at something small up close, you use a microscope. And when you want to look at something really really small, you use a super-resolution microscope. These tools can look in resolutions of a millionth of a millimeter, but they work slowly due to the volume of image data that they need to record. Now, researchers have developed a way to speed up the process by creating a method which can record data at this microscopic scale in real-time.

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Researchers develop new test that detects all viruses that infect people and animals

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There are some 320,000 unique mammalian viruses, according to estimates by virologists, and likely exponentially more existing on the planet today. Determining an accurate number would require billions more dollars and a great deal more manpower than is currently given to the study of viruses. Though a handful of viruses live in and on our bodies at all times—known as the virome—not all of them make us ill; just as often, they lie dormant. Many virus functions remain mysterious to scientists, such as how they enter a cell or replicate, though existing test advances, like the VirScan blood test, can tell you any infection you’ve ever had.

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A universal flu vaccine may be possible in five years

Nobody enjoys getting the flu.

Almost everyone has had to deal with the flu sometime in their lives. Flu viruses are almost impossible to avoid, since the shape-shifting little bugger is always changing its form and creating new strains each year. Yet researchers at the Imperial College London say they have made a “blueprint” for a universally effective flu vaccination that will be effective in treating any new strains that come along.

 

 

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Scientists create first smartphone attachment that can detect a single virus, nanoparticles

UCLA smartphone virus scanner

Scientists have finally developed a technology that makes it possible to avoid a trip to the doctor.  The UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science scientists have created a lightweight, virus-detecting device that attaches to a common smartphone and is able to scan the human body for human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) particles. The troublesome virus is the root of various illnesses, including birth defects like deafness and brain damage. HCMV can also expedite the death of adults who have HIV, a weak immune system and those who have undergone organ transplants, making early detection of the virus useful.

 

 

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Brace yourselves for the worst flu season in a decade

The latest influenza activity update in the U.S. has just been released by the CDC  and it’s not a pretty picture. First things first: GET VACCINATED. If you’re over six months old or someone you interact with on a regular basis is at high risk of flu complications (i.e. young, old, pregnant, immunocompromised, etc.):  GET VACCINATED. This year’s flu  virus has arrived early and it has health officials across the country bracing themselves for what could be the worst flu season in a decade.

 

 

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How viruses evolve, and in some cases, become deadly

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Michigan State researchers show how new viruses evolve, and in some cases, become deadly.

Researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) have demonstrated how a new virus evolves, shedding light on how easy it can be for diseases to gain dangerous mutations. The findings appear in the current issue of the journal Science…

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Scientists create man-made flu virus that could potentially wipe out millions if it ever escapes research lab

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The deadly virus is a genetically tweaked version of the H5N1 bird flu strain.

A group of scientists is pushing to publish research about how they created a man-made flu virus that could potentially wipe out civilization.

 

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Parents turning to Facebook to find chickenpox laced lollipops

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Parents warned chickenpox laced lollipops are illegal.

Some parents are fearful of having their children vaccinated but they are being warned by a federal prosecutor that making a deal with a stranger who promises to mail them lollipops licked by children with chickenpox isn’t just a bad idea, it’s against the law.

 

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