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New study may help fight dengue fever

A new study by scientists from Imperial College London has found that some of the human immune system’s defences against the virus that causes dengue fever actually help the virus to infect more cells.

According to the researchers, their new findings could help with the design of a vaccine against the dengue virus.

The study also brings scientists closer to understanding why people who contract dengue fever more than once usually experience more severe and dangerous symptoms the second time around.

Dengue fever is transmitted by a mosquito bite and is prevalent in sub-tropical and tropical regions including South East Asia and South America. Symptoms include high fever, severe aching in the joints and vomiting. The dengue virus can also cause hemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.

Gavin Screaton, the lead author of the study, and his colleagues identified a set of antibodies, produced by the human immune system to fight off the dengue virus, that they believe scientists should avoid including in any new vaccine to prevent dengue fever.

Shampoos form harmful substance in waste water

Certain ingredients in shampoo, detergents and other household cleaning agents contain ingredients that could form a cancer-causing contaminant in wastewater, scientists have reported. The study sheds new light on possible environmental sources of this poorly understood water contaminant, called NDMA, which is of ongoing concern to health officials.

William Mitch and colleagues note that scientists have known that NDMA and other nitrosamines can form in small amounts during the disinfection of wastewater and water with chloramine. Although nitrosamines are found in a wide variety of sources — including processed meats and tobacco smoke — scientists know little about their precursors in water. Past studies with cosmetics have found that substances called quaternary amines, which are also ingredients in household cleaning agents, may play a role in the formation of nitrosamines.

Their laboratory research showed that when mixed with chloramine, some household cleaning products — including shampoo, dishwashing detergent and laundry detergent — formed NDMA.

Lose weight quickly for long-term success

The key to long-term weight loss and maintenance is to lose weight quickly, not gradually, in the initial stages of obesity treatment, suggests a new study.

As part of the study, Lisa Nackers and colleagues, University of Florida, and her team examined the association between rate of initial weight loss and long-term maintenance of lost weight, by looking specifically at whether losing weight at a slow initial rate results in larger long-term weight reduction and less weight regain than losing weight at a fast initial rate.

The authors analysed data for 262 middle-aged obese women who took part in the Treatment of Obesity in Underserved Rural Settings (TOURS) trial.

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