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Disease

  1. ‘Functional Cure’ Developed For Infants With HIV

    A team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Mississippi have announced that a new type of treatment using standard HIV drugs has the potential to be a functional cure for children who were born with the disease. That's great news, and certainly impressive, but it leaves us wondering -- what exactly does a 'funtional cure' mean for people living with HIV and AIDS?

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  2. Clap On, Clap…Uh-oh: Antibiotic Resistant Gonorrhea Makes Its North American Debut

    The last oral antibiotic that is effective in curing the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea may not be effective anymore. A study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that the oral antibiotic cefixime was ineffective in treating the disease in 7% of cases where it was prescribed. For those of you who have been playing along at hom, watching gonorrhea get scarier and scarier, you can move your "STD Doomsday Clock" one minute closer to midnight, as pretty soon, the only viable medical treatment for gonorrhea will be "getting set on fire and thrown on the pile."

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  3. Meet Vomiting Larry, The Robot Who Vomits For Science

    Vomiting Larry, The Robot Who Vomits, may sound like a character in a short-lived and particularly unpleasant Saturday Night Live sketch, but the world we live in is not that simple. Far from a joke, Vomiting Larry is a robotic assistant built specifically to produce projectile vomit, and lots of it. Larry -- who is technically a "simulated vomiting system" that you can see in action after the break -- is helping researchers study the food borne illness norovirus in hopes of teaching researchers how it spreads, and thus how they can best control potential outbreaks.

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  4. Training Dogs To Sniff Out Bacteria In Hospitals

    This is Cliff. He's a two-year-old beagle who could become hospitals' newest, cutest weapon against infections by the bacterium Clostridium difficille. Hospitals around the world are rife with contagious C. diff infections, which kill thousands and sicken many more every year, raising health care costs, increasing the length of hospital stays, and, most tragically, costing lives. Cliff's highly sensitive nose, though, allows him to sniff out traces of the bacteria in patients' stool samples faster than traditional lab techniques can. In time, an army of dogs like Cliff could improve hospitals' ability to find C. diff infected patients and prevent them from spreading the disease to others while simultaneously making hospitals measurably more adorable than they are right now. You can see the world's first bacteria sniffing canine in action below.

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  5. Social Media Could Help Stop The Next Epidemic Before It Starts

    Social media is pretty much built for complaining, and there's nothing people like to complain about as much as being sick. If you come down with a flu, a bout of food poisoning, or a clammy sensation accompanied by a need for brains, chances are your Facebook friends and Twitter followers are going to hear about it. A team of epidemiologists led by researchers from Kansas State University are counting on it, in fact. The team is looking for ways to turn social media sites into high-tech monitoring and announcement systems for disease outbreaks than can stifle the spread of diseases by getting out in front of them early and getting the word out effectively about prevention.

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  6. Key Ingredient In Mucus Could Fight Hospital Superbugs

    Of all the gross things that the human body can produce -- and let's face it folks, we can get pretty gnarly sometimes -- mucus has to be near the top of the heap. As unpleasant as it may be, though, that gunk does serve an important purpose, trapping bacteria and viruses before they can further infect your body. Now, MIT researchers are exploring the possibility that mucus could have the same disease preventing properties outside of your body, preventing bacteria from forming fortresses called biofilms.

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  7. Quarantined: Finches Avoid Sick Members Of Their Flock

    We've all found ourselves ducking friends, loved ones, significant others and co-workers when they develop a sniffle or two. We're not the only species to show that rather mercenary brand of common sense, though. A recent study shows that the common house finch, usually an intensely social avian, can tell when other finches are ailing and will avoid sick members of their own species to prevent the spread of disease.

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  8. Anthrax Bacteria Can Breed In Dirt, Be Even More Terrifying

    You know what's not scary enough? Anthrax. I don't know when it was, but a disease that creates black ulcers on your skin and has the potential to make your innards basically fall right out of your body lost its capacity to inspire terror. The horrific disease and occasional means of spreading panic in government buildings could get a little bit of its groove back, though, with a new study showing that anthrax bacteria are capable of breeding  -- and spreading -- in soil, where the disease was once thought to lay dormant.

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  9. The Economics of Disease: Keeping Cells From Sharing Resources Can Collapse Bacterial Communities

    The cells associated with cystic fibrosis are very good team players, working together to build thriving communities in patients' lungs. Those communities have their share of freeloaders, though, who consume resources without contributing, and researchers at the University of Washington are working on a novel way to use those lazy cells to treat the disease. By making it more costly for cells to share so-called "public goods" that the entire community needs to survive, researchers made selfish cells more common, causing the bacterial community to collapse when resources run dry.

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  10. Antibiotic Resistant Salmonella Epidemic Is Up To 45% Fatal, May Spread From Human To Human

    Researchers following the spread of salmonella in Africa, which has reached epidemic levels, have found that the spread of the disease may be linked to the emergence of HIV on the continent, implying that the blood-borne disease may have followed in the wake of HIV, finding good hosts in people with compromised immune systems and becoming more prevalent as it did so. The same study has also identified some of the genes for antibiotic resistance that are partly to blame for the disease's increased virulence and mortality in Africa.

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