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Healthy Balance

Research Roundup: February 2016

February’s UVA research news was all about prevention, from food poisoning to strokes.

Salmonella’s Strange GPS

The Bite-Size Synopsis: Salmonella, the potentially deadly foodborne bacteria, uses a substance in our cell membranes to figure out where it is in the human body — almost like a GPS for bacteria. It then decides if it needs to establish an infection in the gut or fight the immune system.

What This Could Mean for You: If researchers can disrupt the GPS, the salmonella won’t know what to do, and it will pass harmlessly through our bodies. That means no more food poisoning from salmonella.

Read more about how salmonella infects people.

Link Between Immune Cells, Weight & Disease Resistance

The Bite-Size Synopsis: Researchers found that many genes work together to control both immune cells and body weight after an infection.

What This Could Mean for You: This might help doctors and researchers destroy viruses within the body and create new vaccines.

Find out more about UVA’s research on genes and virus resistance.

Why Children Don’t Grow

UVA research looks at stunted growth in Bangladesh
A child near an open sewer in Bangladesh, where UVA researchers examined stunted growth.

The Bite-Size Synopsis: Researchers examined 103 two-year-old children in an urban slum in Bangladesh, where 36 percent of children have stunted growth. They found one out of every six kids showed signs of bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine.

Researchers believe the bacterial overgrowth is causing inflammation and poor nutrient absorption, leading to stunting.

What This Could Mean for You: Globally, 165 million children have stunted growth, which increases the chances of cognitive disability and death before age five. Researchers hope to learn more about the bacterial overgrowth so they can eventually prevent and treat it.

Learn more about UVA’s research in Bangladesh.

Ischemic Stroke Genes

The bite-size synopsis: Researchers completed a massive study looking at the genes that predispose people to ischemic strokes. Ischemic strokes are caused by blood clots and make up 85 percent of all stroke cases.

The researchers found a new gene associated with one particular kind of ischemic stroke. They also now believe that each identified stroke gene is associated with one particular subtype of stroke.

What This Could Mean for You: The new gene could be a target for preventive drugs. That means a new way to prevent a debilitating and potentially deadly stroke.

Learn more about the stroke study and the dozens of research sites involved.

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