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  • Feature

    How the battle against measles varies around the world

    The World Health Organization’s goal was lofty but achievable: eliminate measles from five of the world’s six regions by 2020. But recent outbreaks — even in places where elimination had been achieved — are making that goal a distant dream.

    In the first four months of 2019, 179 countries reported 168,193 cases of measles. That’s almost 117,000 more cases reported during the same period...

    05/21/2019 - 06:00 Science & Society, Immune Science, Health
  • News

    How allergens in pollen help plants do more than make you sneeze

    “Are plants trying to kill us?” allergy sufferers often ask Deborah Devis.

    A plant molecular geneticist at the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus in Australia, Devis should know the answer better than most. She is chugging through the last few months of a Ph.D. that involves predicting how grasses use pollen proteins that make people sneeze, wheeze and weep for days on end.

    What...

    05/19/2019 - 08:00 Health, Plants, Immune Science
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘An Elegant Defense’ explores the immune system’s softer side

    An Elegant DefenseMatt RichtelWilliam Morrow, $28.99

    We like to think of the immune system as our own personal military, ready to attack foreign invaders. Slice your finger, and immune cells rush in to destroy rogue pathogens.

    But it’s misleading to think of the immune system as solely a war machine. It must also keep the peace, assessing each threat and, in many cases,...

    04/23/2019 - 08:00 Immune Science, History of Science
  • News

    How helpful gut microbes send signals that they are friends, not foes

    Some gut bacteria really put the hooks into their host — but in a good way. Observations in mice show that certain filamentous microbes use a hooklike appendage to send messages that researchers believe are aimed at preventing immune cells from attacking the microbes.

    The finding, reported in the March 8 Science, could help explain how an immune system distinguishes friendly gut bacteria...

    03/07/2019 - 14:26 Cells, Immune Science, Microbiology
  • News

    Eating a lot of fiber could improve some cancer treatments

    What you eat can affect how well immune therapies work against cancer. High-fiber diets may change gut microbes and make these therapies more effective, but taking probiotics could do the opposite.

    Researchers looked at people with melanoma skin cancer who were getting a kind of immune therapy called PD-1 blockade or checkpoint inhibition (SN: 10/27/18, p. 16). Those who ate a high-fiber...

    03/01/2019 - 12:32 Microbiology, Cancer, Immune Science
  • Feature

    With its burning grip, shingles can do lasting damage

    At age 37, Hope Hartman developed a painful, burning rash in her right ear, in the part “you would clean with a Q-tip,” the Denver resident says. The pain got so bad she went to a local emergency room, where the staff was flummoxed. Hartman was admitted to the hospital, where she started to lose sensation on the right side of her face.

    During that 2013 health crisis, Hartman’s husband,...

    02/26/2019 - 09:00 Health, Clinical Trials, Neuroscience, Immune Science
  • News in Brief

    In some cases, getting dengue may protect against Zika

    Previous infections with dengue virus may have protected some people in an urban slum in Brazil from getting Zika.

    In a study of more than 1,400 people in the Pau da Lima area of Salvador, those with higher levels of antibodies against a particular dengue virus protein were at lower risk of contracting Zika, researchers report in the Feb. 8 Science. “The higher the antibody, the higher...

    02/07/2019 - 14:00 Health, Immune Science
  • News

    This bacteria-fighting protein also induces sleep

    “Feed a cold, starve a fever,” or so the adage goes. But fruit fly experiments suggest that sleep may be a better remedy.

    A microbe-fighting protein helps control how much and how deeply fruit flies sleep, researchers report in the Feb. 1 Science. That’s evidence that sleep speeds recovery from illness, they conclude.

    “We finally have a very clear link between being sleepy and...

    01/31/2019 - 14:03 Genetics, Physiology, Immune Science
  • Science Visualized

    How light-farming chloroplasts morph into defensive warriors

    Chloroplasts may seem like docile farmers of light. But inside these microscopic plant and algal cell structures lurks the spirit of a warrior.

    When a pathogen attacks a plant, chloroplasts stop making food from sunlight and rush to the site of infection to help fend off the invader. Now, researchers have identified the protein that mobilizes these organelles into a defensive army.

    ...
    01/28/2019 - 08:00 Plants, Cells, Immune Science
  • News in Brief

    Gut bacteria may guard against diabetes that comes with aging

    Losing one variety of gut bacteria may lead to type 2 diabetes as people age.

    Old mice have less Akkermansia muciniphila bacteria than young mice do, researchers report November 14 in Science Translational Medicine. That loss triggers inflammation, which eventually leads cells to ignore signals from the hormone insulin. Such disregard for insulin’s message to take in glucose is known as...

    11/19/2018 - 10:55 Microbiology, Physiology, Immune Science