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Archive - Dec 21, 2014

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Common TLR5 Polymorphism and Commensal Bacteria Influence Inflammation, Anti-Tumor Immunity, and Outcome for Some Cancer Patients

A common polymorphism - a variation in a person's DNA sequence that is found with regularity in the general population - can lead to a chain of events that dictates how a tumor will progress in certain types of cancer, including a form of breast cancer, as well as ovarian cancer, according to new research from The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that was published online by the journal Cancer Cell. The research reveals a more explicit role about the symbiotic relationship humans have with the various bacteria that inhabit our body and their role during tumor progression. "Our research indicates that interactions between the helpful bacteria in our bodies and immune cells at places situated away from tumors influence systemic responses in the host that alter how these tumors are able to progress," said José Conejo-Garcia, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor and Program Leader in the Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis Program at The Wistar Institute and lead author of the study. Humans are colonized with trillions of bacteria - known as commensal bacteria because there are benefits to having these bacteria in our bodies - that inhabit the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts and our skin. These bacteria provide a first line of defense against infection. Recent research has found that interactions between these bacteria and the immune system are critical for providing important defenses against tumors occurring outside of the intestines. In order for the immune system to recognize commensal, as well as microscopic organisms that can cause disease - or pathogens - many of our cells are programmed to recognize pathogen-associated molecular patterns.

New Vaccine Partially Protects Against Prion-Caused Disease in Deer

Researchers at the New York University (NYU) Langone Medical Center and elsewhere say that a vaccination they have developed to fight a brain-based, wasting syndrome among deer and other animals may hold promise on two additional fronts: protecting U.S. livestock from contracting the disease, and preventing similar brain infections in humans. The study, which was published online in Vaccine on December 21, 2014, documents a scientific milestone: the first successful vaccination of deer against chronic wasting disease (CWD), a fatal brain disorder caused by unusual infectious proteins known as prions. Prions propagate by converting otherwise healthy proteins into a disease state. Equally important, the researchers say, this study may hold promise against human diseases suspected to be caused by prion infections, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, kuru, familial insomnia, and variably protease-sensitive prionopathy. Some studies have also associated prion-like infections with Alzheimer's disease. “Now that we have found that preventing prion infection is possible in animals, it's likely feasible in humans as well," says senior study investigator and neurologist Thomas Wisniewski, M.D., a professor at NYU Langone. CWD afflicts as much as 100 percent of North America's captive deer population, as well as large numbers of other cervids that populate the plains and forests of the Northern Hemisphere, including wild deer, elk, caribou, and moose. There is growing concern among scientists that CWD could possibly spread to livestock in the same regions, especially cattle, a major life stream for the U.S. economy, in much the same manner that bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or Mad Cow Disease, another prion-based infection, spread through the United Kingdom almost two decades ago. According to Dr.