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Feb 14, 2008

Investigators Illuminate Mechanism of Immune Suppression in Staph Infection

  • Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine demonstrated that a bacterial toxin from Staphylococcus aureus shuts down the ion channel’s control mechanism in immune-cell membranes.

    The ion channels in immune cells called Kv1.3 channels allow only potassium ions to pass. This activity triggers an immune response. Researchers studied frog eggs that were engineered to have particular voltage-gated ion channels in their membranes.

    They found that removal of phosphate head groups from some membrane lipids by the bacterial toxin called sphingomyelinase (SMase) C shuts down the Kv1.3 channel.

    The study is published in the February 14 issue of Nature.



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Scientifically Studying Ecstasy

MDMA (commonly known as the empathogen “ecstasy”) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is reserved for compounds with no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Two researchers from Stanford, however, call for a rigorous scientific exploration of MDMA's effects to identify precisely how the drug works, the data from which could be used to develop therapeutic compounds.

Do you agree that ecstasy should be studied for its potential therapeutic benefits?

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