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Bacteria-Killing Proteins Cover Blood Type Blind Spot

A set of proteins found in our intestines can recognize and kill bacteria that have human blood type molecules on their surfaces, scientists at Emory University School of Medicine have discovered. The results were published online Feb. 14 and are scheduled to appear in the journal Nature Medicine. Many immune cells have receptors that respond to molecules on the surfaces of bacteria, but these proteins are different because they recognize structures found on our own cells, says senior author Richard D. Cummings, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Biochemistry. "It's like having a platoon in an army whose sole purpose is to track down enemy soldiers that are wearing the home country's uniforms.

Rapid Flu Tests Work Better In Kids Than In Adults

A rapid influenza diagnostic test (RIDT) can provide a diagnosis of flu within 30 minutes -speeding the delivery of antiviral medication if needed - but studies have shown these tests often give false negative results. A new study, "Sensitivity of Rapid Influenza Diagnostic Testing for Swine-Origin 2009 A (H1N1) Influenza Virus in Children, " published in the March issue of Pediatrics (appearing online February 15), examined RIDTs in a large pediatric cohort and found the tests may be more effective at diagnosing influenza in children than in adults. A total of 820 children with influenza-like illness were tested for respiratory viruses over two flu seasons - 2007-2008 and 2008-2009.

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European Medicines Agency And Swissmedic Agree Sharing Of Information On H1N1 Pandemic Medicines

The European Medicines Agency and Swissmedic will from now on be able to exchange confidential information about the authorisation and safety of medicines used in the context of the H1N1 pandemic influenza. The confidentiality arrangement was agreed between the European Medicines Agency on the one side and the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products, Swissmedic, on the other side, on 12 February 2010. The partners will be able to exchange confidential scientific and technical information to ensure the safety, quality, efficacy and post-authorisation follow-up of medicines used in the context of the pandemic. This closer co-operation will provide the two authorities earlier access to information on the basis for their respective recommendations on pandemic medicines and complete the overall view on their safety.

Haitian Death Toll Climbs To 230,000, Government Says

The death toll from the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti has risen to 230, 000, Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue, the country's communications minister, said on Tuesday, the Associated Press reports. She said the new number is only an estimate and it does not include people who had private burials and were buried by family members. The death toll is higher than the previous estimate of 212, 000 and the government says some bodies still have not been counted (2/9). "The new figure gives the quake the same death toll as the 2004 Asian tsunami. It comes as aid groups warned that disease could kill hundreds more in the second phase of the country's medical emergency, " the Telegraph reports (2/10).

Antibiotics As Active Mutagens In The Emergence Of Multidrug Resistance

Multidrug resistant bacteria such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) pose a major problem for patients, doctors, and the pharmaceutical industry. To combat such bacteria, it is critical to understand how resistance is developed in the first place. It is commonly thought that an incomplete course of antibiotics would lead to resistance to that particular antibiotic by allowing the bacteria to make adaptive changes under less stringent conditions. However, new research from Mike Kohanski, Mark DePristo, and Jim Collins at Boston University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute shows that low doses of antibiotics can produce mutant strains that are sensitive to the applied antibiotic but have cross-resistance to other antibiotics.

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The Genetic Secrets To Jumping The Species Barrier

Scientists have pinpointed specific mutations that allow a common plant virus to infect new species, according to research published in the March issue of the Journal of General Virology. Understanding the genetics of the key interactions between viruses and hosts could provide insight to how some viruses manage to jump the species barrier and even give us a better idea of how animal diseases are generated. Researchers from Saga University, Japan studied the genetic changes that took place when turnip mosaic virus (TuMV) - a plant mosaic disease spread by aphids - adapted to infect a new species. Genetic analysis showed TuMV had acquired an average of 140 significant mutations, on its evolutionary pathway from Brassica rapa (turnip), a host to which it is well adapted, to a new host Raphanus sativus (radish).

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