Each year 170,000 people around the world die of this type of meningitis, according to the World Health Organization, WHO. Bacterial meningitis, as the disease is called, can even spark epidemics: in Africa 250,000 people were affected in a matter of weeks in the late 1990s. Without treatment, mortality among those who contract the disease is 85-90 percent, with treatment some 10-15 percent. Patients also run a high risk of serious disability after recovery.
Only humans are susceptible to infection from meningococci. In its modeling system Ann-Beth Jonsson’s research team therefore used mice that produce the human receptor that the bacteria bind to. Marking the bacteria to emit light, the scientists used cameras to monitor their activities in the living mice during the course of the disease.
“The bacteria are almost knocked out by the immune defense system, but then they resurge, this time with alterations in the surface protein. What’s more, we discovered that the bacteria aggregate in the thyroid and can impact hormone production during the infection,” says Ann-Beth Jonsson.
The study also shows that bacteria that lack a certain adhesin (the protein that the bacteria cells use to adhere to the receptors) could not attach to mucous linings.
Thanks to the new system the research team has developed, it is now possible to rapidly and effectively monitor the function of various vaccine candidates and new drugs, obviating the numerous costly and time-consuming tests that have been necessary until now. At the same time, the system provides a clear picture of the process of infection.
“With these findings as tools, we can continue to study the course of the disease and test vaccines on living organisms. Moreover we will be able to find new strategies for improving the prognoses for those who are affected by meningococcus disorders,” says Ann-Beth Jonsson.
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13.01.2017 | Princeton University
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
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Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
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At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
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Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
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