Getting measles ‘resets’ the body’s immune system

In this April 2019 photo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a news conference declaring a public health emergency in parts of Brooklyn in response to a measles outbreak. Health experts are saying measles, which is once more on the rise globally, is more harmful than previously thought. (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo)
Updated 01 November 2019

Getting measles ‘resets’ the body’s immune system

  • Netherlands study shows the virus erases the body’s memory of previous pathogens, effectively wiping its immunity memory

WASHINGTON: Measles, the contagious childhood disease that is once more on the rise globally, is more harmful than previously thought.
A new analysis of 77 unvaccinated children from the Netherlands carried out by an international team of researchers led by scientists at Harvard has found that the virus erases the body’s memory of previous pathogens — effectively wiping its immunity memory.
The virus eliminated between 11 and 73 percent of the children’s protective antibodies, blood proteins responsible for “remembering” previous encounters with disease, the team wrote in the journal Science on Thursday.
This left some of the children with immunity close to that of a newborn baby.


“It sort of resets your immune system back to sort of a more naive state,” Harvard epidemiologist and coauthor Michael Mena told AFP.
In order to rebuild their defenses, they will need to be exposed to numerous pathogens as they were in their infancy, he added.
To validate their result, the team then carried out experiments on macaque monkeys, with the animals losing 40-60 percent of their protective antibodies.
“The virus is much more deleterious than we realized, which means the vaccine is that much more valuable,” said study coauthor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator Stephen Elledge.

 


SpaceX launch moving ahead, weather uncertain

Updated 30 May 2020

SpaceX launch moving ahead, weather uncertain

  • NASA chief Jim Bridenstine: ‘We are moving forward with launch today’

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER: SpaceX’s historic first crewed mission to the International Space Station was set to proceed as scheduled on Saturday, NASA said, although uncertainty remained over weather conditions.
“We are moving forward with launch today,” NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said in a tweet. “Weather challenges remain with a 50 percent chance of cancelation.”
“Proceeding with countdown today,” said SpaceX founder Elon Musk.
Weather forced the postponement on Wednesday of what would have been the first launch of American astronauts from US soil in almost a decade, and the first crewed launch ever by a commercial company.
The Falcon 9 rocket with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule is scheduled to launch at 3:22 p.m. Eastern Time (1922 GMT) on Saturday.
The next window, which is determined by the relative positions of the launch site to the space station, is Sunday at 3:00 p.m. (1900 GMT), and fair weather is predicted.
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken, 49, and Douglas Hurley, 53, former military test pilots who joined the space agency in 2000, are to blast off for the ISS from historic Launch Pad 39A on a two-stage SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The same launch pad was used by Neil Armstrong and his Apollo 11 crewmates on their historic 1969 journey to the Moon, as NASA seeks to revive excitement around human space exploration ahead of a planned return to Earth’s satellite and then Mars.
The mission comes despite shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with the crew in quarantine for more than two weeks.
NASA has urged crowds to stay away from Cocoa Beach, the traditional viewing spot — but that did not deter many space fans on Wednesday.
President Donald Trump, who flew in for the previous launch attempt, is expected to attend again.