In tropical and subtropical parts of the world malaria is a widespread disease which is transmitted by the malaria mosquito. When a mosquito carries the protozoa Plasmodium falciparum and bites a person it transmits the pathogen of the severe fever disease. Nearly half a billion human beings are affected worldwide and more than 1 Million die each year by malaria, especially infants and children are among the victims.

Now french scientists from the university of Lille (France) succeeded in vaccinating lab mice against malaria with a very cheap and promising approach: They combined Plasmodium antigenes (structures on the cell surface of a pathogen which are recognized by the immune system) with starch granulae (corns) of the green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and fed the mice with the modified starch. Afterwards the animals showed resistance against malaria when infected with the protozoa.

Strong and handsome, intelligent and emotional, hard and empathetic, rich and successful.....women want modern men to be more than most men can provide. Now at least one wish of women could be fullfilled by German and British scientists: the neuropeptide oxytocin improved the ability of men to be more sensitive towards fellow men. Oxytocin is also known as a hormone which is released during sexual activities and orgasms and it is combined with emotions like love and confidence. A second important role it plays in activating labor pains when a baby is born. After the birth it strengthens child-mother-bindings.

The designate manager of the clinic for psychiatry, psychosomatics and psychotherapy of the medical centre J. W. Goethe's university, Prof. Dr. Harald Hampel, has discovered together with a research team new risk genes for the Alzheimer illness.
In the famous magazine "Nature Genetics" from the 06.09.2009 produced the Alzheimer expert who will take over from the chair 01.01.2010 of psychiatry of the Goethe's university (press conference for the new appeal follows), the proof of the fact that the outbreak of the illness can be caused genetically. Up to now, nevertheless, only four genes which are involved in the genetically complicated illness were known. Now two big international research teams have discovered three new risk genes which serve to become forgetful irreversible at the age. Within the scope of the up to now worldwide biggest Alzheimer genetics study with more than 16,000 examined people, the experts made a find.
A new study published in Science finds for the first time evidence of sexual reproduction in the protozoan parasites in the genus Leishmania, causing skin ulcers and potentially fatal disease, Leishmaniasis. The American scientists show that mating and subsequent genetic exchange occurs when the parasites are in the sand flies.

Bed bug
The bed bug (Cimex lectularius) sucking blood from a human. Wikimedia Commons courtesy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
A new study by biologist from the University of Kentucky shows that the bloodsucking bed bugs are increasing in numbers. The reason for this became clear, when the scientists subjected the bed bugs to a number of insecticides and observed their behaviour. The insects did not avoid the insecticides and when were able to cross insecticide barriers when exposed to sublethal doses.


Bed bugs are small night-active insects in the family Cimicidae (order hemiptera). Different species are found in both temperate and tropical regions, where they feed by sucking blood from humans and other warm-blooded hosts. Bed bugs are flattened, brown and have a length of 4-5 mm. They are attracted to body heat and CO2, and typically feed every 5-10 days, but they can survive for almost a year without feeding.

Diabetes is a widespread hormonal disorder which disturbes or destroys the blood sugar (glucose) regulation by insulin and glucagon (two hormones of the pankreas). The oversupply of sugar containing food nowadays makes people sick when the sensitive balance between sugar levels in blood and cells is disturbed. A permanent too high glucose level in the blood causes in the longterm morbid effects for all kind of tissues and organs in the human body.

HIV-virus leaving the host cell
HIV-Virus leaving the host cell (3-D-electron-tomographie photograph, courtesy: University hospital of Heidelberg, Germany)
  Scientists from Germany discovered an unknown mechanism in host cells of the AIDS-Virus. HIV affects cells of the immune system in humans. Viruses transform their hosts for their own purposes and reproduction. Finally they are released from the infected cell and start befalling other immune cells. But how is this achieved by the virus? The latest research results of german scientists from Heidelberg and Munich suggest an active role of the host cell itself!

Green Mamba
The Eastern Green Mamba (Dendroaspis angusticeps) has one of the most venomous bites. From Wikimedia Commons (Photo by user Danleo)
Many people have an innate fear of snakes, which probably stem from our evolutionary history. A new analysis of the research literature and reports on snake bites from around the globe suggest that this fear is well-founded indeed. The study estimates that between 1 and 5 million people are bitten by snakes every year.


Snakes are limbless reptiles which can be found almost everywhere on the globe although the diversity is far greater in the tropics than everywhere else. Most snakes are poisonous and use the poison to paralyze prey, which typically include rodent, lizards and amphibians. However, the poison is also used for self-defence against larger predators and although only few species are dangerous to humans these often possess a significant threat to humans working in rural tropical settings.

 A new designer drug causes cell suicide in cancer cells of the black melanom. This interesting new research result was now published in "Nature Medicine". Scientists from the University of Bonn, Germany, used a newly developed method to knock out certain genes which cause cancer cell growth. They tested their medicine in mice. The team applied the RNA -Interference-Method for which two US-american scientists (Craig Mello and Andrew Fire) received the noble prize in 2006. The Nobel prize laureates discovered that small pieces of RNA, a form of genetic material, can switch on and off the activity of our genetic material, the DNA in cells.

In industrialized countries macular degeneration is the most common cause for blindness in age related loss of vision. Scientists from Great Britain and Germany now showed that the age related macular degeneration is due to a hyperactivity of the immune system in advanced years. Inherited disfunction of the immune system can be the cause. In Germany approximately 4.5 million patients suffer from macular degeneration disabling them in the long term to manage their daily lives.

Alzheimer brain
Treatment with the new drug leads to a decline in plaques in treated mice (Figure: Richard Dodel)
A Team of US-American and German scientists showed in a new study that the antiinflammatory drug CNI-1493 can reduce the impact of the Alzheimer disease. In the brain of people suffering from this severe neurological disorder the enzyme amyloid destroys brain tissues. Obviously the newly discovered effect of CNI-1493 is very promising. It stops the enzymes function.



More than 20% of women report an inability to get frequently vaginal orgasms when having sex with their partner. Also men often believe that women are less able to have a sexually fullfilled lifes. Often it is indeed the case that in partnerships women suffer from female coital orgasmic infrequencies. The reasons can be quite diverse.

Animation of oxy and deoxy forms of hemoglobin (from: Molecule of the Month by, Courtesy: US Federal Government )
A pulse oxymeter can measure if the blood of a patient is oxygen saturated or not, giving evidence about the content of oxygen in the carrier molecule hemoglobin in the red blood cells, the erythrocytes. This optical checking device tests the amount of infrared light, swallowed by oxygen loaded hemoglobin cells. The more oxygen the blood tested contains, the more infrared light can be detected. Hemoglobin loaded with carbon dioxide is absorbing most of the infrared light, telling the physician that he deals with deoxygenated blood of the veins which normally contain the blood returning from the body with low oxygen and high carbon dioxide which is transported by hemoglobin. The color of hemoglobin normally changes when unloading oxygen and uploading carbon dioxide.

The largest markets for medical drugs are found in the Western countries and therefore both private medical companies and public universities and funding bodies mainly pour money into the research of diseases found predominantly in Western countries, while equally dangerous and prevalent diseases from developing countries has been neglected. However, this is slowly changing with the arrival of medical journals dedicated to this field, such as the open-access PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. In the latest Issue, a research group comprising of scientists from the Novartis Institute of Tropical Diseases and from various public institutions in Singapore and Vietnam has published a study on Dengue Fever.

Influenza virus
Transmission electron microscopy image of the influenza virus. Magnified around 100,000 times. Courtesy of the Public Health Image Library.
The risk of a deadly pandemic virus has become frightening real in recent years with the SARS and the avian flu scares. Imagine a virus that develops at some continent, from there spreads to the globe and within half a year kills more than 25 million people worldwide…Unfortunately this is not pure imagination. It can happen and it has happened. The 1918 flu pandemic (or the Spanish flu as it commonly known as) first appeared on March the 4th, 1918 in Kansas, USA. In August a more virulent strain simultaneous appeared in Boston, Sierra Leone, France and Spain. When the pandemic was finally over in June 1920, most regions including remote Pacific Islands had been affected and world wide between 50 and 100 million people, including healthy young adults had died from the flu. The main reason for this was an extremely high infection rate of 50%.

Parkinson Diease and Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis are caused by degeneration of neurons with long axon projects. Parts of the axon guidance pathway genome can be used to predict the susceptibility and onset of the diseases. Source PLoS Biology Vol. 4, No. 2, e29 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0040029.
Parkinson disease (PD) affects the central nervous system and results in deterioration of motor and speech skills. Usually visible tremors and lack of fine motor control appears in the later stages. Parkinson disease mainly affects elderly people. Around one in 500 will catch the disease, which at the moment is untreatable. However, research to find a cure has been intensified in the last decades. An important aspect is to be able to predict the onset of the disease. Recently an American research group found that variation in some nucleotides in the genome of the axon guidance pathways rocan predict both the bearer’s susceptibility to PD and probable age of onset the disease. Now the same group has used this approach on another neurologic disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

chronical pancreatitis
p.R254W Variance. A shift from thymin to cytosine causes a shift in the aminoacid order of the enzyme Chymothrypsin. Courtesy: University of Leipzig
Decades of alcohol consume can cause a disorder in the pancreas which leads to chronic pancreatitis. This disease often ends deadly. Now scientists from an international research team discovered a genetic mutation  responsible for chronic pancreatitis. A Cytosine-Thymin-mutation brings a translatory shift within the aminoacid order of Chimotrypsin, a derivate of Thrypsin, the enzyme responsible for digestion of proteins. Groups of patients from Germany and India were investigated.


AIDs-virus leaving a host cell (Courtesy: NIH)
Scientists from the german universities of Ulm and Hannover now discovered a peptide (an enzyme derivate) that accelerates the process of cell infection by the Aids virus. In the recent "Cell"- Volume the physicians Dr. Wolfgang Forsmann and his collegue Dr. Frank Kirchhoff showed this important results of their research groups.
The main danger for animals exposed to cold weather is the risk associated with freezing and the formation of ice crystals within the body in general and intracellular in particular. Cold resistant animals use a variety of methods to combat ice formation, including increasing the salinity of the blood and thereby decrease the freezing point, using special chemicals to produce anti-freeze liquids. Researchers have long been interested in discovering ways in which organic materials can be frozen without causing damage to the tissue. The most famous application of this is the science fiction idea of letting astronauts hibernate during long space voyages. However, a more immediate application is the medical need for cryo-preserving organs and tissue that are later to be used in organ transplantations. Researchers from the United Kingdom have now come up with a new method of freezing articular cartilage.

 Inflammatory diseases and infections are triggered by a variety of different biological processes, involving the bacteria or viruses as well as the host physiology. Pathogens often infect their host cells by on-off switch of their gene translation (which causes the expression of special proteins, virulent factors). The large number of different proteins and genes involved in this complicated process between host and pathogen is a obstacle to scientists to investigate the different circuits during an infection. Now with a newly developed method it is easy to target special genes within the bacteria or viruses. With a special promoter which is simply activated by Aspirin (=acetyl-salicyate) the scientists in the laboratory of Prof. Carlos  Guzman (at the Helmholtz-Center of infection research, Braunschweig, Germany) managed to find a control of the activation of single proteins of a pathogen in different periods of an infection.

Drinking alcohol is common in western societies and part of our daily life. But drinking too much causes severe addiction with numerous diseases following an alcoholic career of many years. One of the deadly consequences can be different types of cancers as head, neck or esophageal cancer. A pooled analysis of 5000 cases from 13 different studies now revealed that  a Withdrawal from alcohol can in the long term reduce the risk of getting one of these cancer forms back to a normal level.