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Penn Medicine Infectious Diseases News



The latest news about infectious diseases from Penn Medicine - the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Health System.



Copyright: 2011, The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania
 



New Therapy Treats Autoimmune Disease Without Harming Normal Immunity

Thu, 30 May 2016 18:30:00 GMT

In a study with potentially major implications for the future treatment of autoimmunity and related conditions, scientists from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have found a way to remove the subset of antibody-making cells that cause an autoimmune disease, without harming the rest of the immune system.



New Antiviral Drugs Could Come from DNA "Scrunching"

Wed, 08 Jun 2016 20:15:00 GMT

Evidence of DNA "scrunching" may one day lead to a new class of drugs against viruses, according to a research team from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Columbia University.



Penn Study Describes a Better Animal Model to Improve HIV Vaccine Development

Mon, 06 Jun 2016 13:45:00 GMT

Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have figured out how to make a much-improved research tool that they hope will open the door to new and better HIV vaccine designs.



Identifying How Merkel Cell Polyomavirus Infection can Cause a Lethal Carcinoma

Fri, 27 May 2016 16:30:00 GMT

A benign virus normally found in the skin can lead to a type of rare, lethal skin cancer. Specifically, infection by the Merkel cell polyomavirus can lead to Merkel cell carcinoma in immune-compromised individuals. Researchers have now identified a type of skin cell as the target of the virus in humans.



Beatrice H. Hahn, MD, Virologist from Penn's Perelman School of Medicine Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Thu, 21 Apr 2016 15:15:00 GMT

Beatrice H. Hahn, MD, a professor of Medicine and Microbiology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has been elected as a new member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation's most prestigious honorary societies and a leading center for independent policy research.



Genomes of Chimpanzee Parasite Species Reveal Evolution of Human Malaria, According to Penn-led Study

Wed, 22 Mar 2016 10:00:00 GMT

n international team led by Beatrice Hahn, MD, a professor of Medicine and Microbiology from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and MD/PhD student Sesh Sundararaman, used a selective amplification technique to sequence the genomes of two divergent Plasmodium species, Plasmodium reichenowi and Plasmodium gaboni, from miniscule volumes of chimpanzee blood to find clues about the evolution and pathogenicity of Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest malaria parasite that affects people.



Powerful Machine-Learning Technique Uncovers Unknown Features of Important Bacterial Pathogen, According to Penn Study

Wed, 20 Jan 2016 14:30:00 GMT

A powerful new machine-learning technique can be applied to large datasets in the biological sciences to uncover previously unknown features of organisms and their genes, according to a team led by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.



Finding the Needle in a Microbial Haystack: Penn Researchers Test New Pathogen Detection Technology

Fri, 15 Jan 2016 18:00:00 GMT

In a recently published study in Cancer Biology and Therapy, a group of Penn colleagues used a version of the PathoChip microarray, which contains 60,000 probes for all known viruses, as well as a broad range of bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and helminthes, a parasitic worm, to identify the pathogenic agent in the sample of a patient.



Penn Researchers Decode Microbial Signature of Aggressive Form of Breast Cancer

Thu, 15 Oct 2015 13:30:00 GMT

A new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, led by Erle S. Robertson, PhD and James C. Alwine, PhD, has identified, for the first time, an association between two microbial signatures and triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), the most aggressive form of the disease.



Off-Kilter: Penn Study Identifies Differences in Treatment Effect on Out-of-Balance Microbiome in Crohn's Disease

Wed, 14 Oct 2015 16:00:00 GMT

Different treatments for Crohn's disease in children affects their gut microbes in distinct ways, which has implications for future development of microbial-targeted therapies for these patients, according to a study led by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.



Penn-developed, DNA-based Vaccine Clears Nearly Half of Precancerous Cervical Lesions in Clinical Trial

Wed, 30 Sep 2015 13:30:00 GMT

Using a novel synthetic platform for creating vaccines originally developed in the laboratory of David Weiner, PhD, a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, a team led by his colleagues at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, has successfully eradicated precancerous cervical lesions in nearly half of the women who received the investigational vaccine in a clinical trial.



Targeting HIV in Semen to Shut Down AIDS

Tue, 18 Aug 2015 15:00:00 GMT

There may be two new ways to fight AIDS -- using a heat shock protein or a small molecule – to attack fibrils in semen associated with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) during the initial phases of infection, according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.



Penn Researchers Devise New Approach for Making Vaccines for Deadly Diseases

Mon, 03 August 2015 17:30:00 GMT

Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have devised an entirely new approach to vaccines – creating immunity without vaccination.



Penn Researchers Receive $2.9 Million in Awards from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund to Launch Biomedical Research Careers

Wed, 17 Jun 2015 14:00:00 GMT

Five early-career researchers from three schools at the University of Pennsylvania have received funding from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund (BWF) for their excellence in biomedical research, in topics including heart disease, sleep, and infectious diseases, as part of a nationwide program totaling $22.5 million.



Penn Researchers Home in on What's Wearing Out T Cells

Wed, 03 June 2015 14:30:00 GMT

Sometimes even cells get tired. When the T cells of your immune system are forced to deal over time with cancer or a chronic infection such as HIV or hepatitis C, they can develop "T cell exhaustion," becoming less effective and losing their ability to attack and destroy the invaders of the body. While the PD-1 protein pathway has long been implicated as a primary player in T cell exhaustion, a major question has been whether PD-1 actually directly causes exhaustion.



NIH Awards $16 Million to Penn-led Group to Develop Synthetic DNA Vaccines to Fight HIV

Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:00 GMT

The National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has awarded $16 million over the next five years for a collaborative study led by scientists from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.



Gorilla Origins of the Last Two AIDS Virus Lineages Confirmed

Mon, 2 Mar 2015 20:00:00 GMT

Two of the four known groups of human AIDS viruses (HIV-1 groups O and P) have originated in western lowland gorillas, according to an international team of scientists from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Montpellier, the University of Edinburgh, and others.



Penn Medicine Researcher to Receive National Award from the American College of Physicians

Thu, 15 Jan 2015 14:45:00 GMT

Beatrice H. Hahn, MD, a professor of Medicine and Microbiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, will receive the American College of Physicians Award for Outstanding Work in Science as Related to Medicine by the American College of Physicians (ACP), the national organization of internists.



People with Mental Illness More Likely To Be Tested for HIV, Penn Medicine Study Finds

Thu, 04 Dec 2014 14:45:00 GMT

People with mental illness are more likely to have been tested for HIV than those without mental illness, according to a new study from a team of researchers at Penn Medicine and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published online this week in AIDS Patient Care and STDs.



Penn Team Identifies Molecular Root of "Exhausted" T Cells in Chronic Viral Infection

Thur, 29 Nov 2012 16:00:00 GMT

A new study by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, suggests a novel therapeutical approach that might be used to shift the balance of power in chronic infections. The study appears in the November 30 issue of Science.



Brothers in Arms: Commensal Bacteria Help Fight Viruses, According to Penn Study

Mon, 18 June 2012 19:00:00 GMT

Healthy humans harbor an enormous and diverse group of bacteria and other bugs that live within their intestines.



Four Penn Professors Named AAAS Fellows

Thu, 5 Jan 2012 04:00:00 GMT

Four faculty members at the University of Pennsylvania have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), three from the Perelman School of Medicine. This year 539 members have been awarded this honor by AAAS because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.



Gatekeepers: Penn Study Discovers How Microbes Make it Past Tight Spaces Between Cells

Thur, 17 June 2011 13:00:00 GMT

There are ten microbial cells for every one human cell in the body, and microbiology dogma holds that there is a tight barrier protecting the inside of the body from outside invaders, in this case bacteria.



Penn Researchers Show New Evidence of Genetic "Arms Race" Against Malaria

Fri, 10 June 2011 15:00:00 GMT

For tens of thousands of years, the genomes of malaria parasites and humans have been at war with one another, each involving an attempt to get the upper hand. Scientists have now performed a genetic analysis of 15 ethnic groups across Africa, in an effort to identify gene variants that could explain differing local susceptibility to malaria.



Penn Medicine CCEB Receives $2 Million from CDC for New Infectious Disease Research Program

Tue, 29 Mar 2011 20:00:00 GMT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CCEB) at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine $2 million over the next five years to fund research to find new ways to reduce infections in health care settings.



New Findings on Drug Tolerance in Tuberculosis Suggest Ideas for Shorter Cures

Mon, 07 Mar 2011 17:30:00 GMT

New research on how tuberculosis (TB) bacteria develop multi-drug tolerance points to ways TB infections might be cured more quickly. The study was published online last week in Cell. The results identify both a mechanism and a potential therapy for drug tolerance that is induced in the TB bacteria by the host cells they infect.



Rare HIV-Positive Individuals Shed Light on How Body Could Effectively Handle Infection

Tue, 01 Mar 2011 17:00:00 GMT

Although untreated HIV infection eventually results in immunodeficiency (AIDS), a small group of people infected with the virus, called elite suppressors (0.5 percent of all HIV-infected individuals), are naturally able to control infection in the absence of antiretroviral therapy, or HAART. Elite suppressors and HIV- infected individuals treated with HAART have similar levels of virus in the blood stream. However, levels of HIV integrated into immune cells are much lower in elite suppressors compared to levels in cells from HIV-infected individuals on HAART, according to a study at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine



Penn Medicine Investigators Receive NIH Grants for Transformative Research

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 20:00:00 GMT

David Weiner, PhD, professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, will receive $3.2 million, in collaboration with the Public Health Service of Canada and biotech firm Inovio Corp., to develop a universal flu vaccine, one that is intended to protect against all strains of flu.



Beatrice Hahn and George Shaw, Pioneers in HIV Research, to Join Penn Medicine

Thu, 23 Sep 2010 22:00:00 GMT

Beatrice Hahn, MD and George Shaw, MD, will be joining the faculty of the Penn Center for AIDS Research in the School of Medicine in 2011. Both are international leaders in human and simian immunodeficiency virus research and have made groundbreaking contributions to this field for over two decades. Hahn and Shaw have also contributed significantly to the study of the transmission of human infectious pathogens from non-human animals.



Battle of the Bugs Leaves Humans as Collateral Damage

Tue, 29 Jun 2010 19:00:00 GMT

Researchers have shown how a battle for survival at a microscopic level could leave humans as the unlikely victims. They modeled in mice how the common bacterium Streptococcus pneumonia interacts with other bacteria, showing that competition for space between rival bacteria can cause deadlier forms of bacteria to evolve.



Penn Researchers Present Phase II HIV Gene Therapy Trial Data at CROI 2010

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 23:59:59 GMT

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine presented today the results from an ongoing Phase I/II open-label clinical trial of Lexgenleucel-T at the 16th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in San Francisco, CA. Lexgenleucel-T is a cell and gene therapy product being investigated for the treatment of HIV infection.



Why Some Monkeys Don't Get AIDS

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 16:30:00 GMT

Two studies published this month in the Journal of Clinical Investigation provide a significant advance in understanding how some species of monkeys such as sooty mangabeys and African green monkeys avoid AIDS when infected with SIV, the simian equivalent of HIV. Researchers comparative genomics of SIV infection, attempting to identify possible genes related to disease progression or resistance. Their findings change the way AIDS researchers think about human versus simian AIDS infection.



New Cellular Therapy for HIV in World’s First Engineered T Cell Receptor Trial

Wed, 07 Oct 2009 14:00:00 GMT

Researchers today announced the opening for enrollment of the first ever study using patients’ cells carrying an engineered T cell receptor to treat HIV. The trial may have important implications in the development of new treatments for HIV potentially slowing – or even preventing – the onset of AIDS.



Penn Researcher Receives Grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Study New Approaches to Fight Malaria

Mon, 18 May 2009 16:00:00 GMT

A University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine researcher has received a $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations award from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant will support a global health research project conducted by Doron Greenbaum, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology, to look for new ways to fight malaria.



Locking Parasites in Host Cell Could Be New Way to Fight Malaria, Penn Study Shows

Fri, 03 Apr 2009 20:50:00 GMT

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have discovered that parasites hijack host-cell proteins to ensure their survival and proliferation, suggesting new ways to control the diseases they cause. The study, appearing this week online in Science, was led by Doron Greenbaum, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology in the Penn School of Medicine.



Getting to Zero: Penn Medicine Draws Road Map for Elimination of Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infections

Fri, 20 Mar 2009 21:00:00 GMT

Central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) fell by more than 90 percent during the past three years at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania due to a multi-pronged approach combining leadership initiatives, electronic infection surveillance, checklists to guide line insertion and maintenance, and implementation of the Toyota Production System to encourage best practices in line care. The findings, which Penn physicians say provide a road map for cutting the deadly, costly toll of hospital-acquired infections nationwide, were presented on Friday, March 20 at the 19th Annual Meeting of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA).



Penn Medicine to Research MRSA Infection Recurrence and Household Transmission

Wed, 04 Mar 2009 16:30:00 GMT

The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, in collaboration with The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Lincoln University, and the Pennsylvania State University, will receive $5.5 million to study why patients infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) frequently experience recurrent infections despite appropriate treatment. The researchers will also determine how often MRSA spreads among household members and the factors contributing to the spread of MRSA within the household. An intervention to prevent new and recurring MRSA infections will be tested.



Anti-HIV Gel Shows Promise in Large-Scale Study

Mon, 09 Feb 2009 13:30:00 GMT

A microbicide gel intended to prevent HIV infection in women, called PRO 2000 (0.5% dose), was 30% effective, according to results from a clinical trial conducted at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and six trial sites in Africa. The results of the study, known as HPTN 035, were presented today at the international Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Montreal, Canada. This is the first human clinical study to suggest that a microbicide gel may prevent male-to-female sexual transmission of HIV infection.



Penn Study Identifies How Ebola Virus Avoids the Immune System

Tue, 27 Jan 2009 16:00:00 GMT

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have likely found one reason why the Ebola virus is such a powerful, deadly, and effective virus. Using a cell culture model for Ebola virus infection, they have discovered that the virus disables a cellular protein called tetherin that normally can block the spread of virus from cell to cell. 



Engineered Killer T-Cell Recognizes HIV-1’s Lethal Molecular Disguises
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and colleagues in the United Kingdom have engineered T cells able to recognize HIV-1 strains that have evaded the immune system. The findings of the study, published online in the journal Nature Medicine, have important implications for developing new treatments for HIV, especially for patients with chronic infection who fail to respond to antiretroviral regimens.



Penn Animal Study Identifies New DNA Weapon Against Avian Flu
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have identified a potential new way to vaccinate against avian flu. By delivering vaccine via DNA constructed to build antigens against flu, along with a minute electric pulse, researchers have immunized experimental animals against various strains of the virus. This approach could allow for the build up of vaccine reserves that could be easily and effectively dispensed in case of an epidemic.



Zinc Finger Proteins Put Personalized HIV Therapy Within Reach
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and collaborators are using minute, naturally occurring proteins called zinc fingers to engineer T cells to one day treat AIDS in humans.



"Blood-Free" Monitoring as Good as Blood Tests in Predicting the Course of AIDS, Find Penn Researchers
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have shown that monitoring treatment adherence to AIDS therapy is a simple blood-free way to monitor risk of disease progression. The international study was published in the May issue of the journal PLoS Medicine.



Nanocylinders Deliver Medicine Better Than Nanospheres
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and School of Engineering and Applied Science have discovered a better way to deliver drugs to tumors. By using a cylindrical-shaped carrier they were able sustain delivery of the anticancer drug paclitaxel to an animal model of lung cancer ten times longer than that delivered on spherical-shaped carriers. These findings have implications for drug delivery as well as for better understanding cylinder-shaped viruses like Ebola and H5N1 influenza.



AIDS-Related Virus Tricks Cells to Become Tumors
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have discovered how the Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) subverts a normal cell process in order to promote tumor growth. The finding, published in the most recent issue of PLoS Pathogens, offers new potential strategies for treating Kaposi's sarcoma and other cancers associated with viruses.



Hearts Transplanted from Hepatitis C Donors Associated with Lower Survival Rates
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine have found that heart transplant patients who receive a donor heart from a person with hepatitis C (HCV) have a lower rate of survival. Corresponding Author Leanne Gasink, MD, MSCE, of the University of Pennsylvania's Division of Infectious Disease and colleagues report their findings in the October 17th issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.



Smallpox Protein Structure Could Aid in Drug Design
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have determined the structure of an important smallpox virus enzyme and how it binds to DNA. The enzyme, called a topoisomerase, is an important drug target for coming up with new ways to fight smallpox.



Infected for Life: How Herpes Simplex Virus Hides Out in Cells
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have discovered part of the reason why cold sores, caused by a herpes virus, come back again and again. The new study, published online last month in Nature, points to a small RNA molecule, called a microRNA (miRNA) as the culprit that keeps the latent virus-infected cell alive.



Rob Roy MacGregor, MD, Receives Two Honors for Distinguished Career
Rob Roy MacGregor, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, has been recognized for his many contributions to Penn and the field of Infectious Diseases.