Zika Virus

NIH Announced Its Research Priorities on How Zika Virus Affects Pregnancy

The National Institutes of Health today announced its research priorities for studies to investigate how Zika virus infection affects reproduction, pregnancy and the developing fetus.  Zika virus currently is circulating in about 30 countries and territories (link is external), notably in Latin America and the Caribbean. The virus has been linked to a spike in cases of microcephaly (link is external)— an abnormally small head resulting from an underdeveloped and/or damaged brain — among newborn babies.


NIH researchers have identified a DNA methylation signature in tumor DNA common to five types of cancer. The signature results from a chemical modification of DNA called methylation, which can control the expression of genes like a dimmer on a light switch. They hope this finding will spur development of a blood test that can be used to diagnose a variety of cancers at early stages.

NIH Researchers Identify a DNA Signature Shared by Five Types of Cancer

National Institutes of Health researchers have identified a striking signature in tumor DNA that occurs in five different types of cancer. They also found evidence that this methylation signature may be present in many more types of cancer. The specific signature results from a chemical modification of DNA called methylation, which can control the expression of genes like a dimmer on a light switch. Higher amounts of DNA methylation (hypermethylation), like that found by the researchers in some tumor DNA, decreases a gene’s activity. Based on this advance, the researchers hope to spur development of a blood test that can be used to diagnose a variety of cancers at early stages, when treatments can be most effective. The study appeared Feb. 5, 2016, in The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics.




vibration-induced hives

NIH Scientists Discover Genetic Cause of Rare Vibration-Induced Hives

Scientists at the National Institutes of Health have identified a genetic mutation responsible for a rare form of inherited hives induced by vibration, also known as vibratory urticaria. Running, hand clapping, towel drying or even taking a bumpy bus ride can cause temporary skin rashes in people with this rare disorder. By studying affected families, researchers discovered how vibration promotes the release of inflammatory chemicals from the immune system’s mast cells, causing hives and other allergic symptoms.




inflammatory diseases

Natural Protein Points to Effective Treatments for Inflammatory Diseases

Increasing the level of a naturally-produced protein, called tristetraprolin (TTP), significantly reduced or protected mice from inflammation, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health. The results suggest that pharmaceutical compounds or other therapeutic methods that produce elevated levels of TTP in humans may offer an effective treatment for some inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and multiple sclerosis. The report appeared online Feb. 1 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.