Tag Archives: antibiotic

Antibiotic resistance… the NEXT generation

MRSA- Picture courtesy of CDC's Public Health Image Library

MRSA- Picture courtesy of CDC’s Public Health Image Library

Antibiotic resistance is a growing- and serious- problem. Most antibiotics work by interfering with cell functions, but certain types of bacteria (like MRSA) have evolved in such a way that these antibiotics just won’t work. Researchers all over the world are working on this problem, and it seems that scientists at MIT have made a pretty significant breakthrough.

By using a genome-editing system called CRISPR, researchers have been able to target the genes that allow bacteria to resist antibiotics. And by targeting the genes responsible for antibiotic resistance and disrupting them, they were able to kill over 99% of the resistant bacteria. Using this method, they also successfully increased survival rates of waxworm larvae infected with a nasty form of E. coli.

Currently, research in mice is in progress. The goal is that one day, this technology could be modified to work on humans. As recent research hasn’t yielded many new classes of antibiotics, this method may ultimately play an important role in stopping the spread of antibiotic resistance in the human population.

Read more about it here: http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/fighting-drug-resistant-bacteria-0921

Moms: Could there be such a thing as “too clean”?

iStock_000016947232LargeIf you are a parent, you undoubtedly know that children are magnets for germs. Literally- magnets. I’m sure that there is scientific evidence of this somewhere. I haven’t found it yet, but when I do, trust me- there will be a blog post about it.

Despite the obvious- yet unsubstantiated- theory of child/dirt magnetism, we all have that mom friend who has undoubtedly been recruited by the government to eliminate germs. And she is awesome at it. Her child is mid-cough, and a container of hand sanitizer magically appears out of her back pocket. Milk spilled from a glass hasn’t even hit the floor before her third arm appears with a mop. YOUR child is about to sneeze, and as you pretend to search for the tissue in your pocket that you should probably have ready, Super Mom produces a travel pack of baby wipes out of nowhere and comes to the rescue. You walk into her house and marvel at the lack of crumbs/ dust/ dog hair/ Cheerios imbedded in the carpet, and think “My God, this woman is amazing!”

We all love our germ-defying mom friends. They are the epitome of “Super Moms,” and give us something to strive for. But now, science is here to make the rest of us feel a little bit better about the crumbs/ dust/ dog hair/ Cheerios imbedded in our OWN carpets. Scientific research suggests that “exceptionally clean living environments” may be linked to a weakened immune system and food allergies in children.

Research studies showed that mice living in sterile environments lacked a certain gut bacteria, called Clostridia, that can protect against food allergies. The solution? Provide them with this bacteria (think mouse probiotics), and the sensitization to food allergens can be reversed. While this was a study in mice, other research studies have suggested that the use of disinfecting products, anti-microbial soap, and antibiotics can change the composition of bacteria in our gastrointestinal tracts.

So, when you start to feel inadequate as Super Mom wields her secret-weapon-germ-cleaning-abilities, maybe you can feel a little better about your toddler picking his nose while playing in the dirt. After all, you’re just trying to help boost his immune system- right?

http://www.thestar.com.my/Lifestyle/Health/2014/09/11/Being-too-clean-weakens-your-childs-immunity/

Allergies and antibiotics: learning from the link

iStock_000004448077SmallNew research suggests a link between the use of antibiotics in early childhood and the development of food allergies. But before you freak out, there’s good news- this research also shows that there may be a new way to treat these allergies!

Over a decade ago, researchers found links between antibiotic use and increased allergies and asthma. It was speculated that antibiotics kill normal gut microbes, prompting allergic responses. Those microbes help your immune system recognize the difference between harmless and hurtful molecules that make their way into your body. When this microbe balance is disturbed, it’s possible that the body can react to harmless molecules in such a way as to cause an allergic response. This was observed in laboratory mice, and new research shows that the mice provided helpful clues in understanding this problem in humans.

In recently published research, scientists documented this link in children. They also identified a particular gut bacteria, Clostridia, that is important in preventing people from developing food allergies. When young mice were given antibiotics, researchers found that they were more likely to develop allergies to peanuts. But when Clostridia was given to the mice after their antibiotic regimen, their peanut sensitivity went away.

This research is important because it helps further our understanding of the balance of microbia in the intestinal system and its relation to allergy development. Food allergies are becoming more and more common. It’s estimated approximately 1 in 13 children suffer from a food allergy. Could probiotic treatments help children overcome allergies? There’s still research to be done, but this is a promising development!

Antibiotics from 20,000 leagues under the sea

iStock_000000307266SmallNature has always provided inspiration for human medicine. Aspirin, penicillin, quinine, taxol- the list goes on. But now, with the increase of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, we need inspiration more than ever! So researchers are getting creative.

With advances in technology, we’re able to explore more of our planet than ever before. And that includes the deepest parts of the ocean! The Peru-Chile trench is 8 km deep (OK, so maybe only a league and a half under the sea- still pretty deep!) and it’s home to a multitude of organisms and microbes that flourish in extreme conditions. This could potentially be a huge breakthrough in the development of new medicines and new antibiotics.

The goal is to isolate bacteria, let it grow, and then test it on hundreds of disease samples to see what happens. If there’s a positive reaction, zebrafish might be able to help researchers in the next steps of testing. Let’s hope that research in the Peru-Chile trench yields some lifesaving results! It’s estimated that within a couple of decades, antibiotic resistance could be such a huge problem that simple infections could kill you. While that’s definitely an unsettling thought, it’s reassuring to know that researchers are going to such lengths to make sure that no stone is unturned in the search for new options!

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22129530.800-antibiotic-abyss-the-extreme-quest-for-new-medicines.html?page=1