Inquiring Minds


Pregnancy May Help Cut Risks for HIV-Infected Women

Women with HIV infection who become pregnant have a lower risk of progression to AIDS and death,Vanderbilt researchers report in the online edition of the Journal of Infectious Diseases. They suggest that “the complex set of immunologic changes” during pregnancy may be interacting in a beneficial way with combination drug therapy.

Some previous studies in the developing world reporting higher levels of complications and deaths from AIDS among pregnant women were conducted before drug “cocktails” dramatically reduced death and complication rates. More study is needed, cautions Dr.Timothy Sterling, the study’s senior author and associate professor of medicine.The study was begun four years ago by firstyear medical student Mercy Udoji. Jennifer Tai also made major contributions to the study.

Multiple Sclerosis Gene Uncovered After 30-Year Search

Researchers have uncovered a gene linked to multiple sclerosis that could pave the way for future treatment options. Nature Genetics and The New England Journal of Medicine have published studies that report the most significant MS genetic breakthrough since the 1970s. Researchers from Vanderbilt, the University of Miami, the University of California-San Francisco, Duke University, and the University of Cambridge participated in the studies.

The research “provides solid genetic and functional evidence that the interleukin 7 receptor (IL7R) alpha chain gene is associated with MS,” says Jonathan Haines, director of the Center for Human Genetics Research at Vanderbilt.This genetic variation can increase an individual’s risk of developing MS by about 20 percent.


Mobile Pollution Sensors Could Offer Greater Accuracy

Engineers in the Vanderbilt Institute for Software Integrated Systems have won a research award from Microsoft Corp. to develop a real-time, online, detailed picture of air quality in large metropolitan areas. The mobile air-quality monitoring system will make it possible to monitor air quality more accurately than the current fixed-station system by using car-mounted sensors that measure, process and report emission levels.

Principal investigator is Akos Ledeczi, research assistant professor of electrical engineering at Vanderbilt. Xenofon Koutsoukos, assistant professor of computer science and computer engineering, and Peter Volgyesi, research scientist in electrical engineering and computer science, serve as co-principal investigators.

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