News of Note—Good showing for Ebola vaccines; Glucosamine to prevent seizures; Mimicking a sea-derived compound

A major trial of two Ebola vaccines is underway in Liberia and producing promising results.

Promising results for Merck and GSK Ebola vaccines

Two experimental Ebola vaccines licensed to GlaxoSmithKline and Merck have delivered promising results in a placebo-controlled trial involving 1,500 volunteers in Liberia that's sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). After one month, 71% of people receiving the GSK vaccine developed antibodies against the disease, as did 84% of those getting the Merck candidate. There were no major safety concerns, and after one year, the immune responses were still strong. The research was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. (Release)

Could glucosamine help treat seizure disorders?

When researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham administered the dietary supplement glucosamine to brain-tissue samples and to mice, they observed a decrease in the propensity of neurons to become “hyperexcited” as they do in epilepsy and other seizure disorders. They believe the supplement causes a rapid increase in levels of the protein O-GlcNAcylation, which in turn dampens the sudden electrical spikes that cause seizures. Their findings appear in the Journal of Neuroscience. (Release)

Scientists successfully recreate rare sea compound for disease research

The compound bryostatin 1 is being studied in HIV, cancer and Alzheimer’s, but it’s extremely difficult to harvest from its original source: a tufted sea animal called Bugula neritina. Now researchers at Stanford have developed a 29-step process for chemically synthesizing the compound. It could free drug developers from having to collect 14 tons of the sea creature just to get 18 grams of bryostatin 1, they report in the journal Science. (Abstract)

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