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A new survey has shown there are large variations in the use and interpretation of a new type of allergy test (component testing) by doctors in the UK and Europe. As a result of these findings, a new quality assurance scheme is being launched to ensure proper quality assessment and education about the performance and use of the tests. The paper was published in Clinical & Experimental Immunology.

The microbiome

The BSI has responded to a paper looking at if antibiotic use in mid-life has an effect on the subsequent likelihood of developing bowel cancer precursor. 

The BSI responded to a paper looking at the effect of reducing the use of antibiotics in farm animals on antimicrobial resistance in humans. 

Swine flu virus. Credit: NIAID

A paper published today in Nature Communications reports on a new approach to targeting a wide variety of viruses. In response, the BSI has issued the following statement:

Researchers have discovered a molecular mechanism that could explain why allergies are less common in developing countries. Writing in the journal, Immunology, they report that this finding could be the first step to developing new immunotherapies to prevent allergies. 

A paper published today in the British Medical Journal reports on a systematic review and meta-analysis on studies assessing whether vitamin D supplementation is effective in preventing acute respiratory infections.  The study concluded that vitamin D supplementation was safe and provided protection against acute respiratory tract infection, with patients who were very vitamin D deficient experiencing the most benefit. In response to this paper, the British Society for Immunology has issued the following statement: 

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has published new guidelines on the early introduction of peanut-containing foods for the prevention of peanut allergy in the United States, in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

Swine flu virus. Credit: NIAID

A paper published today in PLOS Computational Biology has reported on the benefits that could be gained through developing a universal vaccine against the influenza virus. Using mathematical modelling, the authors discuss the potential population-level benefits that a universal vaccine would offer over conventional seasonal vaccines.  In response to this report, the BSI has issued the following statement.

Scientists have discovered why growing up on a farm might protect children from developing allergies. Using studies in both mice and humans, they found that exposure to farm dust increases expression of a protective protein that suppresses the inflammatory immune system by modifying the communication between the lining of the lungs and the immune system. The findings are presented today (07/12/16) at the Joint Congress of the British and Dutch Societies for Immunology, taking place in Liverpool, UK.

Scanning electron micrograph of a human T lymphocyte (also called a T cell) from the immune system of a healthy donor.

Researchers have developed an artificial structure that mimics the cell membrane, which can switch on immune cells to attack and destroy a designated target.  This method has potential to be used as a future cancer immunotherapy treatment as well as providing more insight into how immune cells are activated to find and kill cancer cells. The findings are presented today (07/12/2016) at the Joint Congress of the British and Dutch Societies for Immunology, taking place in Liverpool, UK.

A new proof of concept study has shown that an imaging technique more commonly used to assess cancer patients may also be of help in assessing disease and treatment effects in patients with inflammatory diseases.  The study is published in Clinical & Experimental Immunology.    

On Wednesday 24rd November the Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered his first Autumn Statement in which he announced an extra £2bn a year for research and development.

This is our response statement to the House of Commons Science & Technology Committee report on the implications and opportunities of Brexit for science and research.

Swine flu virus. Credit: NIAID

A paper published today in Science has reported that an individual’s immunity to different strains of flu can vary depending on the year of their birth.

Zika virus

A paper published today in the journal Nature has reported that male mice infected with a mouse-adapted strain of Zika virus can experience tissue injury associated with decreased testis size and reduced levels of two sex hormones and of sperm cells in the seminal fluid. 

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