what's the buzz

Soon, vaccine that stops malaria parasites

Scientists have identified a substance, or antigen, that generates antibodies that can hinder the ability of malaria parasites to multiply, which may protect against severe malaria infection.

The antigen, which is known as PfSEA-1, was linked to reduced parasite levels among children and adults in malaria-endemic areas and it was found that mice exposed to PfSEA-1 in an investigational vaccine also experienced lower malaria parasite levels.Multiple tests confirmed that antibodies to PfSEA-1 halted malaria infection at the point when the parasite leaves one red blood cell to invade a new one.

This stage offers a unique target for future malaria vaccines as previous vaccine candidates have tried to block the stage when parasites enter red blood cells.
Pain and itch blocking antibody discovered

Scientists have discovered a new antibody that simultaneously blocks the sensations of pain and itching in studies with mice.

According to the researchers of Duke University, the new antibody works by targeting the voltage-sensitive sodium channels in the cell membrane of neurons.

The scientists said that voltage- sensitive sodium channels control the flow of sodium ions through the neuron's membrane and theses channels open and close by responding to the electric current or action potential of the cells, and that one particular type of sodium channel, called the Nav1.7 subtype, is responsible for sensing pain.

The research team first tested the antibody in cultured cells engineered to express the Nav1.7 sodium channeland found that the antibody can bind to the channel and stabilize its closed state.

Seok-Yong Lee, assistant professor of biochemistry in the Duke University Medical School, said that he was originally interested in isolating these sodium channels from cells to study their structure, but they he thought of making an antibody that interferes with the channel function.

The study found that the antibody can also relieve acute and chronic itch in mouse models, making them the first to discover the role of Nav1.7 in transmitting the itch sensation.

Lee added that they now have a compound that can potentially treat both pain and itch at the same time and hope that their discovery will garner interest from pharmaceutical companies that can help us expand our studies into clinical trials.
Blame your genes for your ‘night eating syndrome’

Scientists have discovered a gene that when mutated leads to hunger at unwanted hours, interrupts sleep and causes overeating.

The researchers said that this pair of genes normally keeps eating schedules in sync with daily sleep rhythms and when they tested mice, they found that when the genes were mutated, they caused unusual mealtimes and weight gain.

Salk scientists have discovered a pair of genes that, and, when mutated, may play a role in so-called night eating syndrome. In mice with mutations in one of the genes, eating patterns are shifted, leading to. The results were published in this month's Cell Reports.

The researchers discovered that individuals with an inherited sleep disorder often carry a particular mutation in a protein called PER2. The mutation is in an area of the protein that can be phosphorylated, the ability to bond with a phosphate chemical that changes the protein's function.

It was found that the mutated PER1 led to lower protein levels during the night, higher levels during the day, and a faster degradation of protein whenever it was produced by cells.

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