The Daily Dose: The biological effects of homelessness; A glimmer of hope for peanut allergies?

The biological terms of homelessness: Homelessness is a problem common to most modern societies. Travel to any country and you’ll encounter it in one way or another. The University of California, San Francisco has embarked on an ambitious effort aimed at understanding the biological effects of homelessness on the older adults. Many of the problems the homeless experience crossover to the general population. “Although the participants’ average age is 57, they experience strokes, falls, visual impairment and urinary incontinence at rates typical of US residents in their late 70s and 80s.”

Hope for peanut allergies: Immunoglobulin E (IgE) plays a significant role in severe peanut allergies. A paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports on the design and performance of “food allergen-specific sIgE inhibitors named covalent heterobivalent inhibitors (cHBIs).” The researchers report encouraging results, “Two cHBIs designed to inhibit only these two epitopes completely abrogated the allergic response in 14 of the 16 patients in an in vitro assay and inhibited basophil activation in an allergic patient ex vivo analysis.”

Uncontained outbreak: African Swine Fever has been decimating hog populations across East and Southeast Asia for over a year. A paper in the CDC journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases, drives home just how contagious the disease is and how difficult containing the outbreak is proving to be. Researchers tested pork products confiscated from travelers in transit from China to South Korea. “We detected ASFV in 4 food items confiscated from travelers from Shenyang, China, in August 2018. Surveillance of pork products at country entry points is needed to mitigate the risk for ASFV introduction.” That is not encouraging news.

Fungus fossil rewrites history: The oldest fungal fossils may have been discovered in a billion-year-old-rock in the Canadian Arctic. According to Nature, where the paper is published, “Minute fossils pulled from remote Arctic Canada could push back the first known appearance of fungi to about one billion years ago — more than 500 million years earlier than scientists had expected.” While experts not involved in the experiment are reserving judgement until more data is available, the find is still tantalizing.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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