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Archive - Feb 1, 2017

Scientists Discover Peptide That Could Reduce Incidence of RSV-Related Asthma

A research report published in the February 2017 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology shows that it may one-day be possible to reduce the incidence of asthma related to infection with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Specifically, the researchers found that a peptide, called STAT6-IP, when delivered to the lungs of neonatal mice at the time of first RSV exposure reduces the development of allergic-type lung inflammation and airway hyper-responsiveness ("twitchy" airways) in mice when they are "re-challenged" with RSV as young adults. "The incidence and severity of asthma and allergies have been increasing over the last 2-3 decades, affecting the general population in terms of both morbidity and cost. Our data suggest that exposure to STAT6-IP has the potential to modulate long-term responses to allergens and microbial antigens implicated in the development of asthma," said Brian J. Ward, M.D., a researcher involved in the work and Associate Professor from McGill University Health Centre, Research Institute in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. "A full understanding of how STAT6-IP works could open new approaches for therapy and long-term prevention of a variety of immunopathologic conditions beyond asthma. Indeed, our concept of peptide-based targeting of key transcriptional regulators could have broad implications for individuals at risk for many immune-mediated conditions." The new article is titled “STAT6 Inhibitory Peptide Given During RSV Infection of Neonatal Mice Reduces Exacerbated Airway Responses Upon Adult Reinfection.” To make their discovery, scientists infected mice with RSV, first as infants and then again as young adults. Mice were treated with STAT6-IP (or a control peptide) sprayed into the nose only at the time of the neonatal RSV infection.

“Mirror Game” Virtual Reality Test Could Enable Low-Cost Early Detection and Monitoring of Schizophrenia

Virtual reality could hold the key to unlocking an affordable, reliable, and effective device to provide early diagnosis and management of schizophrenia. A pioneering new study, led by experts from the University of Exeter (UK) in collaboration with partners from the Alterego FP7 EU project, has developed a new, “mirror game” test using computer avatars to accurately detect specific variations in how patients move and interact socially - well-documented characteristics of the mental disorder. For the study, the research team asked volunteers to perform a series of specific movements on their own, and then mirror some movements carried out by a computer avatar on a large screen placed opposite them. The results of these first trials revealed that the test gave a more accurate diagnosis when compared to clinical interviews, and comparable results when compared to more expensive, traditional neuroimaging methods, the team has concluded. The scientists believe it could open up new, unobtrusive pathways for health professionals to diagnose and treat schizophrenia in the future. They are now looking at conducting clinical trials to confirm the effectiveness of the early detection technique, before it can be employed in clinical practices worldwide. The study was published online in the leading scientific journal npj Schizophrenia on Wednesday, February 1 2017. The open-access article is titled “Unravelling Socio-Motor bBomarkers in Schizophrenia.” Dr. Piotr Slowinski, lead author of the study and a Mathematics Research Fellow at the University of Exeter, explained: "Human movement can give a fascinating and sophisticated insight into our personality traits and behavioral characteristics.