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Researchers Create Vaccine For Dust-Mite Allergies

If you’re allergic to dust mites (and chances are you are), help may be on the way.

Researchers at the University of Iowa have developed a vaccine that can combat dust-mite allergies by naturally switching the body’s immune response. In animal tests, the nano-sized vaccine package lowered lung inflammation by 83% despite repeated exposure to the allergens, according to the paper, published in the AAPS (American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists) Journal. One big reason why it works, the researchers contend, is because the vaccine package contains a booster that alters the body’s inflammatory response to dust-mite allergens.

“What is new about this is we have developed a vaccine against dust-mite allergens that hasn’t been used before,” says Aliasger Salem, professor in pharmaceutical sciences at the UI and a corresponding author on the paper.

Vanderbilt Physicians Seeing Increase in Brown Recluse Spider Bites

Vanderbilt medical toxicologists are reporting an increase in patients seen with brown recluse spider bites this summer.

The venomous bites usually heal well if left alone, according to Tennessee Poison Center Medical Director Donna Seger, MD, but there are so many urban legends about these bites, patients frequently apply many treatments before seeking medical advice.

There are two components to spider bites — the cutaneous lesion and, more rarely, the systemic symptoms that can occur following the bite. The syndrome known as systemic loxsoscelism consists of brown recluse spider bites accompanied by a fever, rash, muscle pain, with or without hemolysis (breaking down of red blood cells), which can be life threatening, especially in children, Seger said.

Dangers Of Desert Dust: New Diagnostic Tool For Valley Fever

On July 5, 2011, a massive wall of dust, (“haboob,” in Arabic), blanketed Phoenix, Arizona, creating an awesome spectacle, (or stubborn nuisance, depending on your perspective). Dust storms are a common occurrence in the arid desert environments of the American Southwest.

But windborne dust can be a serious health risk, lofting spores of a sometimes-lethal fungus known as Coccidioides. The resulting ailment, known as coccidioidomycosis or Valley fever, has been perplexing researchers since it was first described in 1892. It is currently on an alarming ascent in the United States.

Dr. Stephen Albert Johnston, Krupa Navalkar and their colleagues at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute have been investigating Valley fever. Navalkar is the lead author of a new study describing a promising strategy known as immunosignaturing, which can provide clinicians with an accurate identification of Valley fever, a potentially serious affliction that is often misdiagnosed.

Number Of People Susceptible To Painful Mosquito-Borne Virus Increasing, Says Leading Researcher

In just two weeks, the number of Americans infected with the mosquito-borne virus chikungunya has almost doubled and the virus has now been found in mosquitoes in the United States, something that is very concerning to a Kansas State University professor who is a leading researcher of the virus.

KSU_logoAt least 243 travel-related cases of chikungunya have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 31 states, with the number expected to grow.

The first case acquired in the United States was reported in Florida, seven months after the mosquito-borne virus was recognized in the Western Hemisphere.

In Asthma, It’s Not Just What You Smell, But What You Think You Smell

New research from the Monell Center reveals that simply believing that an odor is potentially harmful can increase airway inflammation in asthmatics for at least 24 hours following exposure. The findings highlight the role that expectations can play in health-related outcomes.

“Asthmatics often are anxious about scents and fragrances. When we expect that an odor is harmful, our bodies react as if that odor is indeed harmful,” said study lead author Cristina Jaén, PhD, a Monell physiologist. “Both patients and care providers need to understand how expectations about odors can influence symptoms of the disease.”

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the lungs. According to the National Institutes of Health, over 25 million Americans have the disease, which can interfere with quality of life. The airways of asthmatics are sensitive to ‘triggers’ that further inflame and constrict the airways, making it difficult to breathe. There are many different types of triggers, including pollen, dust, irritating chemicals, and allergens. 

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