Research Highlights

Scientists discover promising ‘off-switch’ for inflammatory diseases

Scientists discover promising ‘off-switch’ for inflammatory diseases

Posted 04/04/2018

Researchers in Ireland, the UK, including Roman Fischer and Benedikt Kessler from the Target Discovery Institute and US have discovered a new metabolic process in the body that can switch off inflammation. “itaconate” – a molecule derived from glucose – “acts as a powerful off switch for macrophages”, thereby reducing inflammation. The discovery published in Nature offers more effective treatment of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and heart disease.

Promising approach to reducing Malaria transmission by ivermectin

Promising approach to reducing Malaria transmission by ivermectin

Posted 20/03/2018

Blood from patients treated with ivermectin can kill mosquitos. Our results indicate that ivermectin mass drug administration to humans could be a potential malaria control tool to aid malaria elimination efforts in South America.

Single low-dose primaquine for blocking transmission of Plasmodium falciparum malaria

Single low-dose primaquine for blocking transmission of Plasmodium falciparum malaria

Posted 06/03/2018

Primaquine is being promoted actively to block the transmission of falciparum malaria parasites between humans and mosquitoes to reduce the spread of highly resistant malaria ‘superbugs.’ In response, Bob Taylor and colleagues developed a primaquine dosing scheme based on age. This will be useful where there are no functioning weighing scales and when primaquine mass drug treatment will be given.

Adaptation of Plasmodium falciparum to its transmission environment

Adaptation of Plasmodium falciparum to its transmission environment

Posted 23/02/2018

The malaria parasite is a major cause of illness and deaths throughout the tropics. To survive, the malaria parasite needs to be transmitted by mosquitos form person to person. In this paper Martin Rono and colleagues show at the cellular and molecular level how the parasite balances its investment between growing efficiently in humans and maximising the chances of being transmitted by mosquitos, depending on the local environment.

Randomised Controlled Trial of Urokinase versus Placebo for Non-draining Malignant Pleural Effusion

Randomised Controlled Trial of Urokinase versus Placebo for Non-draining Malignant Pleural Effusion

Posted 05/02/2018

A recent study published by Prof Najib Rahman, Clinical Director, Oxford Respiratory Trials Unit explains how 15% of people with malignant effusion develop septations (pockets) within the fluid, which are difficult to treat. TIME3 was a randomised trial assessing the use of intrapleural fibrinolytic, showing no improvement in breathlessness but improved x-ray appearance and possible mortality benefit. This study provides high quality evidence for the rational use of this medication for patients.

Ethics, regulation, and beyond: the landscape of research with pregnant women

Ethics, regulation, and beyond: the landscape of research with pregnant women

Posted 17/01/2018

Ethics guidelines have evolved to protect vulnerable groups such as pregnant women from research. This has resulted in a lack of research in these populations making them even more vulnerable because of the lack of evidence-based medical care. In this paper, Professor Phaik Yeong Cheah and her collaborators discuss how regulatory frameworks can sometimes lead to a generalized exclusion of pregnant women from research.

The Struggle for digital inclusion: Phones, healthcare and marginalisation in rural India

The Struggle for digital inclusion: Phones, healthcare and marginalisation in rural India

Posted 02/01/2018

Technological potentials have raised high hopes on healthcare access in LMICs like India. However, five years of research by Dr Marco Haenssgen paint a less optimistic picture and show adverse consequences of mobile phone diffusion, which creates more competition and new divisions and leaves the poorest strata of population worse off than before.

The Breadth of Viruses in Human Semen

The Breadth of Viruses in Human Semen

Posted 12/12/2017

Zika virus RNA is frequently detected in the semen after Zika virus infection. To learn more about persistence of viruses in genital fluids, Dr Alex Salam and Professor Peter Horby searched PubMed and found evidence that 27 viruses can be found in human semen. This may have implications for the risk of sexual transmission, embryonic infection, congenital disease, miscarriage, and infection transmission models.

How the West Africa Ebola outbreak can shape innovation in therapeutic research for emerging and epidemic infections

How the West Africa Ebola outbreak can shape innovation in therapeutic research for emerging and epidemic infections

Posted 09/11/2017

Amanda Rojek and Peter Horby published a review aimed at clinicians who may treat patients with Ebola Virus Disease. This review outlines advances in understanding the clinical presentation, outcomes and long term sequelae of the disease, and outlines the status of experimental vaccines and treatments.

Conserved cytoplasmic domains promote Hrd1 ubiquitin ligase complex formation for ER-associated degradation (ERAD)

Conserved cytoplasmic domains promote Hrd1 ubiquitin ligase complex formation for ER-associated degradation (ERAD)

Posted 30/10/2017
When proteins are formed inside cells they have to fold in the correct 3D structures to function correctly. Too many misfolded proteins can be toxic to the cell, so there are molecular mechanisms that help to clear away potentially dangerous protein forms. A new study in Journal of Cell Science from John Christianson’s group at Ludwig Oxford has identified a specific domain in protein called Hrd1 that is crucial for the clearance machinery in the endoplasmic reticulum.