Health Flash

Health Flash: 11.20.19

fight the flu
There is not just a single strain of influenza virus. Every year, different types circulate, and a flu vaccine is designed to target the most common strains. But scientists at Washington University have found an antibody that protects against a wide range of flu viruses, which could lead to universal prevention. The antibody, 1G01, targets neuraminidase, a protein that is essential to viral replication in cells. In mice models, it protected subjects from all 12 types of the illness tested, which included avian and other nonhuman strains. The study is published in Science.

curing muscular dystrophy
There is no cure or treatment for facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) currently. It is caused by the misexpression of the DUX4 gene in skeletal muscle, and scientists hope that targeting the gene could halt or reverse the progression of the disease. Now, researchers at Saint Louis University have made an important breakthrough. By repurposing an existing drug, a clinically advanced p38 inhibitor, they were able to suppress toxic DUX4 expression in cell and animal models. A biopharmaceutical company has begun clinical trials to further test the approach.

diagnosing dementia
Family history greatly impacts a person’s chance of developing dementia. Researchers at Washington University found that it also can affect how and when symptoms manifest. A study revealed that adult children with one parent who suffers from dementia exhibit symptoms an average of six years earlier than the parent did. Those with two parents with dementia showed signs of cognitive decline 13 years earlier. This suggests that these younger cases are more than the result of changes in diagnostic criteria and social attitudes toward memory loss.

our origins
One of the greatest scientific questions of all time is how life originated on Earth, and researchers at Saint Louis University may be one step closer to the answer. Scientists have long known that a cycle of drying and adding water to amino acids could have created peptides and proteins in Earth’s early environment. However, there remained a question of how overdilution was avoided. In a study published in Nature Communications, it was found that deliquescent minerals (salts that dissolve in water absorbed from humid air) offer natural regulation of the amount of water in a solution, assisting with the creation of proteins from simpler building blocks.

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