A false-color scanning electron micrograph of the water-borne intestinal parasite Giardia lamblia. Image courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
New More Effective Antimicrobials Might Rise From Old
Findings could have major impact in struggle against evolving drug resistance
By tinkering with their chemical structures, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have essentially re-invented a class of popular antimicrobial drugs, restoring and in some cases, expanding or improving, their effectiveness against drug-resistant pathogens in animal models.
Writing in the October 7 Early Edition of PNAS, Lars Eckmann, MD, professor of medicine, and colleagues describe creating more than 650 new compounds by slightly altering structural elements of metronidazole and other 5-nitromidazoles (5-NI), a half-century-old class of antimicrobial drugs used to combat everything from an ulcer-causing stomach bacterium to a gut-churning protozoan found in contaminated water.
“The basic building blocks of 5-NI drugs are the same for all. We decorated around them, adding extra molecular pieces to change their shapes and sizes,” said Eckmann, who published the paper with colleagues at UC San Diego, The Scripps Research Institute and the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia. The result: The altered shapes changed how many of the new compounds attacked pathogens in animal models, overcoming previous microbial resistance.
The findings could have major ramifications in the on-going struggle against evolving drug resistance by many disease-causing pathogens. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently estimated at least 2 million Americans fall ill to antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, with at least 23,000 dying as a direct result of those infections. The World Health Organization (WHO) deems antimicrobial resistance to be an escalating global threat to public health.
“Antibiotic resistance is rising for many different pathogens that are threats to health,” said CDC director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “If we don’t act now, our medicine cabinet will be empty and we won’t have the antibiotics we need to save lives.”
To be sure, antibiotic drug resistance varies. “It spans the spectrum,” said Eckmann. “We have some disease-causing bugs where the situation is critical, where we’re really at risk of losing the ability to treat any infection. At the other end, some infections are not much impacted at all. It depends upon the particular bug.”
Anatomical preparation of the human brain, 1900. The Vrolik Museum, Amsterdam.
Microgravity May Tame Tumors
In space, things don’t always behave the way we expect them to. In the case of cancer, researchers have found that this is a good thing: some tumors seem to be much less aggressive in the microgravity environment of space compared to their behavior on Earth. This observation, reported in research published in the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal, could help scientists understand the mechanism involved and develop drugs targeting tumors that don’t respond to current treatments. This work is the latest in a large body of evidence on how space exploration benefits those of us on Earth.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/03/microgravity-may-tame-tumors
Brain Differences Linked to Insomnia
Johns Hopkins researchers are reporting that people with chronic insomnia show more plasticity and activity than good sleepers in the part of the brain that controls movement.
“Insomnia is not a nighttime disorder,” says study leader Rachel Salas, an assistant professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins Univ. School of Medicine. “It’s a 24-hour brain condition, like a light switch that is always on. Our research adds information about differences in the brain associated with it.”
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/03/brain-differences-linked-insomnia
Uterus Transplant Patients Attempt Pregnancy
A Swedish doctor says four women who received transplanted wombs have had embryos transferred into them in an attempt to get pregnant. He would not say on Monday whether any of the women are pregnant.
Since 2012, nine women have received wombs donated by their mothers or other close relatives in an experimental procedure designed to test whether it’s possible to transfer a uterus so a woman can give birth to her own biological child. The women had in vitro fertilization before the transplants, using their own eggs to make embryos.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/03/uterus-transplant-patients-attempt-pregnancy
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