Category: School of Medicine
Terence Keane, School of Medicine
Alcoholism damages white matter throughout the brain and this damage can be detected with brain scans, researchers report…
“The day-to-day implications of this study are clear: abstinence and light drinking lead to better health and better brain function than heavy drinking.”
Sean Palfrey, School of Medicine
Boston’s a city famous for its historic charm. But lurking in the old buildings is lead—thanks to the use of lead paint, once touted as the best and longest-lasting paint for residences. It was banned from home use in 1978, but many residential buildings and homes in Massachusetts predate the mandate…
“When I was in medical school in the ‘60s and ‘70s, we only diagnosed lead poisoning when a child was in a coma or dying. Then we realized there was a lot more to it than we thought, at which point we started universal screening.”
By Edward Bernstein, School of Medicine
Many first responders’ – even some university police officers – are carrying a new tool in their first-aid kits. It’s naloxone, the opioid overdose antidote drug, and today it’s more widely available than ever. Naxolone can seem like a miracle drug when administered to an OD’ing patient. How does it work?
Thomas Perls, School of Medicine
The odds of enjoying a longer life are greater than ever before for many Americans…
“The idea that most of us can live a good quality of life well beyond our eighties takes most people by surprise.”
Boston Business Journal
Daniel Alford, School of Medicine
“It’s very exciting, but not all that surprising, that (Baker) is choosing to focus on this. It’s in your face.”
NBC Nightly News
Nahid Bhadelia, School of Medicine, NEIDL
Boston-based physician Dr. Nahid Bhadelia travels to Sierra Leone for the second time in four months to combat the deadly Ebola outbreak…
Ronald Corley, School of Medicine, NEIDL
A New York doctor whose Ebola diagnosis prompted controversial mandatory quarantine rules there and in New Jersey was deemed healthy Monday night and the city was declared Ebola-free yesterday — putting more ammo in the argument against those stringent guidelines, said one local doctor…
“It’s the stuff of science fiction. What political people and health officials try to do is give people a sense of safety.”
John Connor, School of Medicine, NEIDL
Tests for Ebola virus currently cannot identify the disease until after people show symptoms, and so individuals exposed to the virus have to wait to see if they are infected…
“It looks like there are some very early and distinct ways in which the immune system is responding to different diseases. That could be an important way of trying to find people that are infected before they show overt symptoms.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, November 10, 2014
CONTACT: Gina DiGravio, 617-638-8480, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Boston)—A new study has found it is possible to distinguish between different hemorrhagic fevers, including Marburg (Ebola cousin) and Lassa before the person becomes symptomatic.
The study, which appears in the journal BMC Genomics, http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2164/15/960/abstract will allow for the development of better diagnostics, especially during the early stages of disease, when treatments have a greater chance of being effective.
Hemorrhagic fevers include Lassa, which is endemic in Western Africa and Marburg, which causes sporadic outbreaks in Africa associated with high rates of mortality. The early symptoms of these viruses (fever, flu-like symptoms) are not unique, making it difficult to diagnose properly. More disease-specific symptoms and the ability to spread the virus from person to person, do not begin until virus has accumulated in the blood. Current diagnostics detect the virus after it spills out of primary sites of infection into the blood. The ability to identify the infection prior to this point would significantly aid early intervention and containment, and could improve outcomes.
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) approached the diagnostic dilemma by trying to “see” infection prior to the point where viruses enter the blood stream. Collaborating with researchers at the U.S. Army Medical research Institute (USAMRIID), they used two experimental models: one that had involved Lassa virus, and one that involved Marburg virus infection. The researchers extracted genetic material (RNA) from a sample of white blood cells from each infection group at multiple times after the models were infected. Using next-generation sequencing techniques, gene expression changes in hosts cells that “recognize” early stages of infection were identified. This was seen prior to clinical symptom onset and before the models became infectious.
According to the researchers, distinguishing between these viruses early can guide treatment and containment efforts. “The ability to distinguish between different types of infection before the appearance of overt clinical symptoms has important implications for guiding triage and containment during epidemics,” explained corresponding author Nacho Caballero, a PhD Candidate in the Bioinformatics Program at Boston University. “We hope that our study will help in the development of better diagnostics, especially during the early stages of disease, when treatments have a greater chance of being effective,” he added.
As exciting as the prospect of this testing is, the research team is setting a realistic time line. “We want to stress that this is not a finding that can be translated into a test tomorrow. This study supports the idea that early markers of infection are there, but significant work will still need to be done to extend these findings,” said Caballero.
This work was supported by the United States Army contracts W81XWH 100-02-0008 and 11-02-0130. NC was supported in part by the Fulbright Commission Spain and the Regional Government of Andalusia.
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Four years into a five-year project to develop a rapid hemorrhagic virus detection technology, the deadliest outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in history struck. For the Boston University research team working on the SP-IRIS device (single particle interferometric reflectance imaging sensor), it’s a small matter of bad timing…
“Having an outbreak happening right now, clearly we’re not ready. Most of the technologies are not ready, there are no easy quick solutions to diagnose this epidemic.”
“There’s more to consider than just the raw time. There is also something to consider in terms of how complex [the current diagnosis] is. Making it easier is one of the critical aspects.”