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McMaster Faculty of Health Sciences Newsmagazine — Volume 9, Issue 3, Fall 2015

Research BRIEFS

Saving lives one tool at  a time

A new, inexpensive diagnostic tool that can be used to save the lives of children around the world is the result of research from the Department of Pediatrics. A flocked rectal swab was specially designed to collect samples from infants and children with severe diarrhoeal disease. Resembling a large Q-tip, the swab facilitates sample collection, eliminating the wait time required to gather stool samples as well as the biohazard that comes with transporting them. The study was published in the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society.

Read more: McMaster researchers improve diagnosis, treatment of childhood diarrhoeal diseases (FHS News, June 2, 2015)

Fertility drug fights superbugs

Eric Brown

The popular fertility drug clomiphene repels invasion by major infections such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), McMaster researchers have found. The finding sheds light on the ways biological systems interact, and is a promising new lead in the fight against multidrug resistant bacteria infection, a growing global issue. The discovery came as a result of the team of biochemists of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research looking for drug combinations that worked against, or antagonistic towards, each other. The paper was published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read more: Fertility drug may help in fighting superbugs (August 20, 2015)

Insight into neurodegenerative diseases

Matthew Miller

Research from the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research and Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences shows that the protein senataxin, associated with neurodegenerative diseases like ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also plays an important role in the body's natural antiviral response. The study, published in Nature Immunology, offers new insight into the link between neurodegenerative disorders and inflammation, and provides a framework to explore more fully the possibility that viral infection may lead to the onset of these diseases.

Read more: Researchers find new link between neurodegenerative diseases and abnormal immune responses (FHS News, March 30, 2015)

Treating triggers of alcoholism

James MacKillop

Research from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences found that D-Cycloserine, a drug typically used to treat tuberculosis, accelerates reductions in cravings for people with alcohol dependency and has promise for improving the treatment of alcoholism. The drug is thought to enhance learning processes and when patients were being taught that the triggers in their environment do not have to be acted upon, their learning can be improved with the medication and cravings reduced as a result. The study was published in Translational Psychiatry.

Read more: Novel treatment quenches alcohol cravings (FHS News, April 9, 2014)