The term “prion” was introduced by Stanley Prusiner in 1982 to describe the atypical infectious agent that causes transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, a group of infectious neurodegenerative diseases that include scrapie in sheep, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans, chronic wasting disease in cervids, and bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle. Over the past twenty years, the word “prion” has been taken to signify various subtly different concepts. In this article, we refer to the prion as the transmissible principle underlying prion diseases, without necessarily implying any specific biochemical or structural identity. When Prusiner started his seminal work, the study of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies was undertaken by only a handful of scientists. Since that time, the “mad cow” crisis has put prion diseases on the agenda of both politicians and the media. Significant progress has been made in prion disease research, and many aspects of prion pathogenesis are now understood. And yet the diagnostic procedures available for prion diseases are not nearly as sensitive as they ought to be, and no therapeutic intervention has been shown to reliably affect the course of the diseases. This article reviews recent progress in the areas of pathogenesis of, diagnostics of, and therapy for prion diseases and highlights some conspicuous problems that remain to be addressed in each of these fields.
Adriano Aguzzi, Mathias Heikenwalder, Gino Miele
Acute renal failure (ARF), characterized by sudden loss of the ability of the kidneys to excrete wastes, concentrate urine, conserve electrolytes, and maintain fluid balance, is a frequent clinical problem, particularly in the intensive care unit, where it is associated with a mortality of between 50% and 80%. In this review, the epidemiology and pathophysiology of ARF are discussed, including the vascular, tubular, and inflammatory perturbations. The clinical evaluation of ARF and implications for potential future therapies to decrease the high mortality are described.
Robert W. Schrier, Wei Wang, Brian Poole, Amit Mitra
Chronic and excessive inflammation in skin and joints causes significant morbidity in psoriasis patients. As a prevalent T lymphocyte–mediated disorder, psoriasis, as well as the side effects associated with its treatment, affects patients globally. In this review, recent progress is discussed in the areas of genetics, the immunological synapse, the untangling of the cytokine web and signaling pathways, xenotransplantation models, and the growing use of selectively targeted therapies. Since psoriasis is currently incurable, new management strategies are proposed to replace previous serendipitous approaches. Such strategic transition from serendipity to the use of novel selective agents aimed at defined targets in psoriatic lesions is moving rapidly from research benches to the bedsides of patients with this chronic and debilitating disease.
Brian J. Nickoloff, Frank O. Nestle
In recent years, great strides in understanding and regulating the immune system have led to new hope for harnessing its exquisite specificity to destroy cancer cells without affecting normal tissues. This review examines the fundamental immunologic advances and the novel vaccine strategies arising from these advances, as well as the early clinical trials studying new approaches to treat or prevent cancer.
Jay A. Berzofsky, Masaki Terabe, SangKon Oh, Igor M. Belyakov, Jeffrey D. Ahlers, John E. Janik, John C. Morris
The kidney plays a central role in our ability to maintain appropriate sodium balance, which is critical to determination of blood pressure. In this review we outline current knowledge of renal salt handling at the molecular level, and, given that Westernized societies consume more salt than is required for normal physiology, we examine evidence that the lowering of salt intake can combat hypertension.
Kevin M. O’Shaughnessy, Fiona E. Karet
Malaria, the most prevalent and most pernicious parasitic disease of humans, is estimated to kill between one and two million people, mainly children, each year. Resistance has emerged to all classes of antimalarial drugs except the artemisinins and is responsible for a recent increase in malaria-related mortality, particularly in Africa. The de novo emergence of resistance can be prevented by the use of antimalarial drug combinations. Artemisinin-derivative combinations are particularly effective, since they act rapidly and are well tolerated and highly effective. Widespread use of these drugs could roll back malaria.
Nicholas J. White
Since its identification nearly 30 years ago, Lyme disease has continued to spread, and there have been increasing numbers of cases in the northeastern and north central US. The Lyme disease agent, Borrelia burgdorferi, causes infection by migration through tissues, adhesion to host cells, and evasion of immune clearance. Both innate and adaptive immune responses, especially macrophage- and antibody-mediated killing, are required for optimal control of the infection and spirochetal eradication. Ecological conditions favorable to the disease, and the challenge of prevention, predict that Lyme disease will be a continuing public health concern.
Allen C. Steere, Jenifer Coburn, Lisa Glickstein
West Nile virus was first detected in North America in 1999 and has subsequently spread throughout the United States and Canada and into Mexico and the Caribbean. This review describes the epidemiology and ecology of West Nile virus in North America and the prospects for effective treatments and vaccines.
L. Hannah Gould, Erol Fikrig
Inability to recognize incident infection has traditionally limited both scientific and public health approaches to HIV disease. Recently, some laboratories have begun adding HIV nucleic acid amplification testing to HIV diagnostic testing algorithms so that acute (antibody-negative) HIV infections can be routinely detected within the first 1–3 weeks of exposure. In this review article, we will highlight critical opportunities for HIV treatment and prevention that are presented by these diagnostic strategies.
Christopher D. Pilcher, Joseph J. Eron Jr., Shannon Galvin, Cynthia Gay, Myron S. Cohen
Dengue is an expanding public health problem, and an effective vaccine remains elusive. This review discusses how the significant influence of sequential infection with different dengue virus serotypes on the severity of disease can be viewed in terms of beneficial and detrimental effects of heterologous immunity. A more complete understanding of these effects is likely to be critical for predicting optimal vaccine-induced immune responses.
Alan L. Rothman
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