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Posts Tagged "antibiotics"

Food Matters

Resistance from the Rear – Hospital Effluent and the Growing Antibiotic Crisis

Not the actual sewer pipe in this story. Click for source.

If you ever worry that you’re a bit too optimistic about the future, try reading Maryn McKenna’s posts about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance. The primary tools we’ve had to combat microbial disease for the past century are failing, and it’s largely our own fault. Antibiotic resistance genes (or ARGs) are spreading fast, and [...]

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Guest Blog

World Health Day: Combat Drug Resistance

Without effective antibiotics, much of modern medicine would not be possible. The treatment of cancer, the care of premature babies and even the most common surgical procedures would not be possible. Yet as each day passes, we move closer to a post-antibiotic era. The severity of the problem, which has rendered many of the strongest [...]

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Guest Blog

Short Story Science: Lenina versus the Pneumococcus

Today is January 28, and Lenina has a smashing headache; she is a Streptococcus pneumoniae researcher. Not that this was the main reason for the headache, but an important meeting was being held today to launch the Pneumococcal Molecular Epidemiology Network’s [PMEN] new paper in Science. Oddly enough, her role at the meeting is to [...]

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Lab Rat

Shooting the messenger: small RNA as a target for antibiotics

A single strand of RNA. "ARNm-Rasmol" by Corentin Le Reun - Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ARNm-Rasmol.gif#mediaviewer/File:ARNm-Rasmol.gif

All living cells contain DNA; the code for producing every protein needed by the cell. As DNA is important it needs to be kept safe. Plants and animals keep their DNA tightly twisted and organised inside a double-membrane bound nucleus while bacteria keep their DNA coiled up in a big circle, with the occasional loop [...]

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Lab Rat

The viruses that spread antibiotic resistance

Drawing of a bacteriophage. Image from Togo picture gallery maintained by Database Center for Life Science (DBCLS).

Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria, and in the great war between humans and pathogenic bacteria they can act as allies for both sides. Phages that destroy their host bacteria can be used as antimicrobial therapy, complementing or replacing antibiotics. On the other hand as phages are essentially little capsules that carry DNA from one [...]

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Lab Rat

Breaking down the city walls: small molecules that target bacterial biofilms

Polymicrobic biofilm grown on a stainless steel surface in a laboratory potable water biofilm reactor for 14 days, then stained with 4,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) and examined by epifluorescence microscopy. Bar, 20 µm.

Although bacteria are single celled organisms, they are capable of working together in massive bacterial colonies known as biofilms. Within the biofilm bacteria will differentiate to perform different tasks, all wrapped up within a sticky substance that holds the cells together. I’ve written about biofilms before; how they form and how they work in space! [...]

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Lab Rat

A universe of nothing but shrimp

The shrimp Langostinos rafax. Photo by Rafael Ortega Díaz via wikimedia commons, credit link below.

When studying bacteria, human pathogens always get a lot of interest and free press. Pathogens of smaller and less important seeming animals, such as shrimp, tend to generate less press interest. After all, what is so exciting about shrimp? Since the 1970s commercial shrimp farming has been expanding rapidly to meet the demands of a [...]

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Lab Rat

Fighting bacteria with weapons from fungi

Microscopic image of Penicillium sp. which produces Penicillin as a secondary metabolite. Magnification:200

In order to survive, organisms produce small molecules known as ‘primary metabolites’ which help it to grow, develop and reproduce. Examples include nucleic acid used to make DNA, amino acids to make proteins, and simple sugars. Once the organism is established it will often start to produce ‘secondary metabolites’. Secondary metabolites are not vital for [...]

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Lab Rat

Categorising bacteria in purple and pink

220px-Gram_stain_01

When confronted with a new bacteria there are a series of simple tests that can be carried out to give a rough idea of the properties of the bacteria you are dealing with. One of the simplest and most useful tests is known as “Gram staining” which is a process of staining cells either purple [...]

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Lab Rat

Not all biofilms are equal: The hyper-biofilm of P. aeruginosa

P. Aeruginosa from wikimedia commons.

December turned out to be a rather hectic month for several reasons, so I decided to take a break from blogging. Now the holidays are over, I will back to regular blogging for 2013! In a previous post I wrote about how two-component systems evolved in bacteria while dying out in animals, so for this [...]

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Lab Rat

Developing new antibiotic compounds: Dual-targeting inhibitors

This crystal structure shows how the drug candidate molecule GP-12 binds to one of its cellular targets, Gyrase-B, from pathogenic E. faecalis. (c) Trius Therapeutics, Inc.

A lot of the research that gets highlighted on this blog is academic, providing fascinating insights into bacterial behaviour and potential antibiotic targets. I was excited, therefore, to have the opportunity to highlight some industrial research, looking at developing new antibiotic compounds against a broad-spectrum range of bacteria. In particular this research concentrates on potential [...]

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Lab Rat

Biofilms: a house for protection or a tent for nomads

I’m currently off on my seriously-delayed honeymoon, so over the next two weeks I’ll be sticking up some posts I enjoyed from my old blog. They’ve been modified and re-edited to include new information (and images!) where appropriate, but unfortunately I won’t be able to answer comments or participate in any discussion about them until [...]

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Lab Rat

Discrete steps to antibiotic resistance

The antibiotic novamoxin. From wikimedia commons credit link below.

I’ve been getting so exited about the awesome powers of bacteria on this blog lately that I’ve been neglecting to cover the nasty bacteria. More specifically the fascinating world of antibiotics, the antimicrobial elements that bacteria and fungi produce and that humans exploit, manufacture and synthesise in order to protect against bacterial infections. Luckily a [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

Will Antibiotics Be There When You Need Them? Get Smart

CDC: Antibiotic Resistance Threat

Just in time for “Get Smart about Antibiotics Week,” I had a refreshing experience recently, working in a different rural hospital. Over that week, I didn’t see one patient with “superbugs” other than the occasional MRSA. No one had the now scarier Gram negative bugs known as ESBLs (extended spectrum beta lactamases) or the even [...]

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Observations

End of the Antibiotic Age: You’ve Been Warned

pills spilling out of a bottle

Widespread antibiotic resistance is no longer a potential problem but has become a major threat, according to the World Health Organization. This news comes as no surprise to the Scientific American community, thanks to Maryn McKenna‘s prescient feature article “The Enemy Within,” which ran three years ago in the April 2011 issue. Naturally, you’ll think [...]

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Observations

Coughs Fool Patients into Unnecessary Requests for Antibiotics

cough illness duration expectation prescription antibiotic

No one wants a hacking cough for days or weeks on end. But research shows that it generally takes about 18 days to get over a standard cough-based illness. Most of us grow impatient after a week or so and head to the doctor to get a prescription. The problem with that recourse, however, is [...]

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Observations

Common STD Grows Resistant to Treatment in North America

antibiotic resistance gonorrhea std

The most commonly acquired sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the U.S., chlamydia and gonorrhea, are usually cleared out swiftly and easily with a dose of oral antibiotics. But one of these infections is growing bold and finding ways to evade treatment. More than 321,000 cases of gonorrhea are reported each year in the U.S. alone—and [...]

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Observations

Growth Factor: How Bacterial Infections Persist through Antibiotics [Video]

bacteria persists with antibiotics by growing

Some strains of nasty bacterial infections, such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), come loaded with resistance to antibiotics built right into their genes. But certain infections seem to acquire an ability to persist in the face of drugs that should knock them out—without developing the genetic hallmarks of antibiotic resistance. For decades, researchers have thought [...]

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Observations

Common Antibiotic Not Helpful for Cough and Respiratory Infection

antibiotic not effective cough respiratory infection

When I was growing up in the 1980s and ’90s with two younger brothers, the antibiotic amoxicillin was a frequent guest in our house. Strep throat, sinus infections, sore throats, coughs; we all remember that thick, pink, bubble gum-flavored liquid perhaps a little too well. But this popular drug, like many antibiotics, is overprescribed—often given [...]

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Observations

Food Safety: Romney and Obama Focus on Different Solutions

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

We now have responses to the Top Science Questions facing the US from Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. So I thought I’d look at some of the specifics in their answers to the next question in our weekly list–number 7, on agriculture and food safety. (For this election-year project, Scientific American partnered with [...]

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Observations

Soil May Help Pathogens Make Us Sick

soil

Tetracycline—a powerful antibiotic—came from the soil. Researchers isolated the drug, used to treat everything from sexually transmitted diseases to bacterial pneumonia, from the soil-dwelling microbe Septomyces aureofaciens, which produces tetracycline to kill its microbe neighbors. So it comes as no surprise that other soil microbes have evolved ways to resist this antibiotic But a new [...]

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Observations

Cave Bacteria Finding Suggests Ancient Origins of Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs

Lechuquilla cave

Our pill-popping culture and over-zealous livestock farmers typically take the blame for the widespread resistance of many harmful strains of bacteria to entire classes of antibiotics. And the Food and Drug Administration took a bold move today with a new voluntary plan to help curtail the over-use of antibiotics in agriculture. But the capacity to [...]

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Observations

Cut the Appendix Surgery–Antibiotics are Effective for Uncomplicated Appendicitis

appendicitis

For something thought to be largely extraneous, the appendix can be a real pain. Hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. have appendectomies each year, often for an appendix that is swollen rather than ruptured. But a new study suggests that many of those surgeries might often be as unnecessary as the organ they’re [...]

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Observations

Gonorrhea Could Join Growing List of Untreatable Diseases

The arms race between humanity and disease-causing bacteria is drawing to a close—and the bacteria are winning. The latest evidence: gonorrhea is becoming resistant to all standard antibiotic treatment. Gonorrhea is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the world—with about 600,000 cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year. A few years ago, [...]

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Symbiartic

Marketing Campaign Drags Science Through the Streets for the Jeering Masses…

13-002FEATURE

Next time you see a scientist in the street, grab him or her and ask who they view as the enemy. Quite likely they’ll give you a weird look, and perhaps they’ll run away, but if they don’t, I’d bet they’d say journalists. Many scientists I know brace themselves for speaking with journalists about their [...]

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