Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Beyond Antibiotics: ‘PPMOs’ Offer New Approach to Bacterial Infection, Other Diseases

From the 15 October 2013 ScienceDaily article

Researchers at Oregon State University and other institutions today announced the successful use of a new type of antibacterial agent called a PPMO, which appears to function as well or better than an antibiotic, but may be more precise and also solve problems with antibiotic resistance.

 

Read the entire article here

 

October 16, 2013 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

Scientists Show How Antibiotics Enable Pathogenic Gut Infections

Screen Shot 2013-09-03 at 11.14.15 AM

 

From the 1 September 2013 Science Daily article

A new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine could help pinpoint ways to counter the effects of the antibiotics-driven depletion of friendly, gut-dwelling bacteria.

“Antibiotics open the door for these pathogens to take hold. But how, exactly, that occurs hasn’t been well understood,” Sonnenburg said.

In the first 24 hours after administration of oral antibiotics, a spike in carbohydrate availability takes place in the gut, the study says. This transient nutrient surplus, combined with the reduction of friendly gut-dwelling bacteria due to antibiotics, permits at least two potentially deadly pathogens to get a toehold in that otherwise more forbidding environment.

In the past decade or so, much has been learned about the complex microbial ecosystem that resides in every healthy mammal’s large intestine, including ours. The thousands of distinct bacterial strains that normally inhabit this challenging but nutrient-rich niche have adapted to it so well that we have difficulty living without them. They manufacture vitamins, provide critical training to our immune systems and even guide the development of our own tissues. Antibiotics decimate this gut-microbe ecosystem, which begins bouncing back within a few days but may take a month or more to regain its former numbers. And the ecosystem appears to suffer the permanent loss of some of its constituent bacterial strains.

It is thought that our commensal, or friendly, bacteria serve as a kind of lawn that, in commandeering the rich fertilizer that courses through our gut, outcompetes the less-well-behaved pathogenic “weeds.” It has also been suggested that our commensal bugs secrete pathogen-killing factors. Another theory holds that the disruption of our inner microbial ecosystem somehow impairs our immune responsiveness.

 Read the entire article here

 

 

September 3, 2013 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Vaccine and antibiotics stabilized (with silk proteins) so refrigeration is not needed — NIH study

English: Woman receiving rubella vaccination, ...

English: Woman receiving rubella vaccination, School of Public Health of the State of Minas Gerais (ESP-MG), Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 10 July 2012 EurekAlert

Could pave way for development of enhanced delivery and storage in third world, save billions in cost

Researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health have developed a new silk-based stabilizer that, in the laboratory, kept some vaccines and antibiotics stable up to temperatures of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This provides a new avenue toward eliminating the need to keep some vaccines and antibiotics refrigerated, which could save billions of dollars every year and increase accessibility to third world populations.

Vaccines and antibiotics often need to be refrigerated to prevent alteration of their chemical structures; such alteration can result in less potent or ineffective medications. By immobilizing their bioactive molecules using silk protein matrices, researchers were able to protect and stabilize both live vaccines and antibiotics when stored at higher than recommended temperatures for periods far longer than recommended….

July 10, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fast Tests Are Latest Weapons Against Infections

A new lab test could quickly detect methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, bacteria like these in the blood.

Janice Carr/CDC  A new lab test could quickly detect methicillin-resistantStaphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, bacteria like these in the blood.

From the 29 June 2012 article at National Public Radio (NPR)

Show up at the emergency room or your doctor’s office with symptoms of a serious infection, and there’s a good chance you’ll get an antibiotic. You might even get a few.

But antibiotics don’t work on viruses. And a particular antibiotic may be suited for one kind of germ, but not another.

The problem for your doctor — and you — is that it can take days to grow enough of the germs afflicting you to identify them conclusively using traditional tests. And if you’re really sick, the doctor may try a bunch of antibiotics right away, just to be sure one of them starts getting you back on the road to health….

Faster, more specific tests would help. And the Food and Drug Administration has recently approved some. This week, while you might have been distracted by the Supreme Court, the agency cleared a test for a dozen bacteria that cause infections in the blood.

“Bloodstream infections are always treated with antimicrobial drugs, and it is essential to identify which antimicrobial drug is appropriate for a specific patient as quickly as possible,” FDA’s Alberto Gutierrez said in a statement. “This new test is an important tool that will help physicians treat patients quickly with the correct antibiotics.”

The test, made by Nanosphere, works in a few hours instead of days. It fingerprints the germs’ DNA and can even detect when the bugs carry genes that render them resistant to some antibiotics. The test costs less than $100….

July 1, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Disarming Disease-Causing Bacteria

From the 5 April 2012 Science Daily article

New treatments that combat the growing problem of antibiotic resistance by disarming rather than killing bacteria may be on the horizon, according to a new study.

Published in Nature Structure and Molecular Biology, research led by Monash Universityshowed a protein complex called the Translocation and Assembly Module (TAM), formed a type of molecular pump in bacteria. The TAM allows bacteria to shuttle key disease-causing molecules from inside the bacterial cell where they are made, to the outside surface, priming the bacteria for infection.
Lead author and PhD student Joel Selkrig of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Monash said the work paves the way for future studies to design new drugs that inhibit this process.
“The TAM was discovered in many disease-causing bacteria, from micro-organisms that cause whooping cough and meningitis, to hospital-acquired bacteria that are developing resistance to current antibiotics,” Mr Selkrig said.
“It is a good antibacterial target because a drug designed to inhibit TAM function would unlikely kill bacteria, but simply deprive them of their molecular weaponry, and in doing so, disable the disease process.”
“By allowing bacteria to stay alive after antibiotic treatment, we believe we can also prevent the emergence of antibiotic resistance, which is fast becoming a major problem worldwide.”…

April 6, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Drugs Used To Overcome Cancer May Also Combat Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance

Image by Ethan Hein via Flickr Antibiotic Resistance

Drugs Used To Overcome Cancer May Also Combat Antibiotic Resistance

From the Fri Dec 23, 2011 Medical News Today article

Drugs used to overcome cancer may also combat antibiotic resistance, finds a new study led by Gerry Wright, scientific director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University. “Our study found that certain proteins, called kinases, that confer antibiotic resistance are structurally related to proteins important in cancer,” says Wright about the study published in Chemistry & Biology…

December 24, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Antibacterial Drugs and the Risk of Community-Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Children

English: proportion of MRSA human blood isolat...

Proportion of MRSA human blood isolates from participating countries in 2008***

From the 14 December edition of Full Text Reports

Source:  Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine

Objective
To investigate in children the association between antibacterial drugs and subsequent diagnosis of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the community.

Design
Population-based case-control study in children 1 to 19 years of age.

Setting
Primary care, General Practice Research Database, United Kingdom, 1994-2007.

Participants
Cases were children who had MRSA diagnosed as outpatients, and controls were individually matched on age and practice, with the matched case’s diagnosis date as the index date for both.

Main Exposures
Antibacterial agents prescribed 180 to 30 days prior to the index date, excluding prescriptions 30 days before the index date to prevent protopathic bias.

Outcome Measures
Rate ratios (RRs) estimated from the odds ratios of exposure in cases compared with controls using conditional logistic regression, adjusted for comorbid conditions, other prescription drug use, and hospitalization.

Results
The rate of MRSA was 4.5 per 100 000 per year. Of 297 cases and 9357 controls, 52.5% and 13.6%, respectively, received antibacterial drug prescriptions during the 150-day exposure window. The adjusted RR with any antibacterial drug was 3.5 (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.6-4.8). The RRs increased with the number of prescriptions (2.2 [95% CI, 1.5-3.2], 3.3 [95% CI, 1.9-5.6], 11.0 [95% CI, 5.6-21.6], and 18.2 [95% CI, 9.4-35.4] for 1, 2, 3, and 4 prescriptions, respectively). The RR was particularly elevated for quinolones at 14.8 (95% CI, 3.9-55.8), with wide variation among antibacterial classes.

Conclusion
While close to half of children were diagnosed as having MRSA in the community without prior antibacterial drugs, such agents are associated with a dose-dependent increased risk, concordant with findings in adults.

***Image from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:EARSS_MRSA_2008.sv, Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Epidemiology and Surveillance, 3720 BA Bilthoven,The Netherlands

 

Related Resources

  • MRSA (MedlinePlus) A general guide with links to overviews, diagnosis/symptoms, specific conditions, news items, and more
  • MRSA Infection (eMedicine Health)  A patient/consumer guide with links to diagnosis/symptoms, risk factors, images, and slideshows
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) Infections (CDC) Comprehensive guide with links to definition, symptoms, prevention, people at risk, environmental cleaning, statistics, and educational resources

     


Related articles

Disclaimer: Links below are for informational/awareness only

December 15, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Beating superbugs with a high-tech cleanser

Beating superbugs with a high-tech cleanser

From the 9 December Science News Daily article

According to the World Health Organization, antibiotic-resistant bacteria are one of the top three threats to human health. Patients in hospitals are especially at risk, with almost 100,000 deaths due to infection every year in the U.S. alone.

Now Dr. Udi Qimron of the Department of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine has developed an efficient and cost-effective liquid solution that can help fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria and keep more patients safe from life-threatening infections. The solution is based on specially designed bacteriophages — viruses that infect bacteria — that can alter the genetic make-up of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. “We have genetically engineered the bacteriophages so that once they infect the bacteria, they transfer a dominant gene that confers renewed sensitivity to certain antibiotics,” explains Dr. Qimron.

The solution, recently detailed in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, could be added to common antibacterial cleansers used on hospital surfaces, turning resistant bacteria into sensitive bacteria. It’s easy to prepare, easy to apply, and non-toxic, Dr. Qimron notes. He estimates that one liter of the growth medium — the liquid in which the bacteriophages are grown — will cost just a few dollars.

 …

Two steps to disarming bacteria

Added to cleansers, Tellurite represents the second step in a two-part process. A Tellurite compound, which is toxic to bacteria, would also be spread on all surfaces to wipe out the bacteria that had not been rendered sensitive, and thus the entire population of the surface bacteria would be sensitized. The combination is designed to first disarm, and then kill dangerous bacteria.

Next, the solution will be tested in pre-clinical animal trials to ensure its safety before being made available for wider use at hospitals…

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December 10, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Antibiotics For Future Infections? Possible If Nothing Is Done Today

 

Antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance

No Antibiotics For Future Infections? Possible If Nothing Is Done Today

From the 17 November 2011 Medical News Today article

The world is moving towards the unthinkable scenario of untreatable infections as fewer antibacterial drugs are discovered and more and more people are becoming resistant to existing drugs, researchers from University of Birmingham, England, reported in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. The article coincides with the European Antibiotics Awareness Day, and warns about the urgency of the situation and the actions needed to turn it around.

People have become so used to antibioticsbeing readily available that there is no sense of urgency regarding the lack of new drugs, or in existing antibiotic’s essential tasks to prolong life.

A wide spectrum of medical procedures, including many elderly people whose immune system has weakened, rely on antibiotics to fend off opportunistic infections. Even fairly simple procedures, for example, transrectal prostate biopsies that are typically used to detectprostate cancer, become problematic because of antibiotic resistant infections.

Author Professor Laura Piddock explains:

“When patients are denied treatment with a new cancer drug because of its expense, there is public outrage despite the possibility of extending life by only a few weeks. Antibiotics are not perceived as essential to health or the practice of medicine, despite such agents saving lives so that individuals can live for many years after infection.”

According to an announcement made by the WHO (World Health Organization) 2 years ago, antibiotic resistance is one of the three biggest health threats, yet politicians, the public, and the media have been slow to understand the urgency of the situation. …

Put simply: The pharmaceutical industry finds that after spending a lot of money developing a new drug, they are then faced with many regulatory barriers, only to find that when their new medication is finally approved, it is not effective for long because the bacterium rapidly develops resistance to it.

One serious problem is the approach of drug trials for antibiotics. Researchers recruit people with infections who are not necessarily infected with the bacteria that the drug is designed to kill, which in turn affects efficacy results.

According to Professor Piddock, this problem could be eliminated by using point-of-care tests to identify the precise bacteria causing the infection and excluding that particular individual from the study if they do not have the bacterium which is being targeted. The number of people required for a trial is currently prohibitively high, yet an approach like this would reduce the number of people needed for each trial, and also ensure that those participating receive the drug that is specifically targeted to their infection.

The profile of this issue must be raised in order to overcome the barriers to new antibiotic discovery and development. In response to this, the British Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy has launched Antibiotic Action, a campaign that has already obtained worldwide support, from the Infectious Diseases Society of America, ReACT, charities, and not-for-profit agencies amongst others.

All these initiatives represent patients who depend on effective antibiotic treatment.

Professor Piddock states:

“As absence of new antibiotics affects everyone, shifting this issue out of the medical arena and into the public eye is paramount, which will stimulate governments to act. To do this, Antibiotic Action is using the latest communication methods including Twitter; this approach will assist as many individuals as possible to sign one of two on-line petitions, one for UK citizens and another for those from outside the UK.” (http://antibiotic-action.com/petition/ )

  • Government Facing Ticking Time Bomb Over Lack of Desperately Needed New Antibiotics, warns Antibiotic Action (prweb.com)
  • New clinical trial approach reduces time and costs of many studies (jflahiff.wordpress.com)

    From an April 8 2011 Stanford School of Medicine Press Release

    ScienceDaily (Apr. 8, 2011) — Doctors at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System are testing a new kind of clinical trial that’s not only less costly but guides doctors to switch to the best treatment even before the trial is completed. The new approach — called a point-of-care clinical trial — was developed by Stanford University biostatistician Philip Lavori, PhD, and a Boston-based team as an alternative to expensive, lengthy, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials to compare drugs and procedures that are already in regular use.

    “The goal of point-of-care clinical trials is to deliver the best care to patients while learning from each experience and redefining that care,” said Lavori, a professor of health research and policy at Stanford’s School of Medicine and the senior author of an article on the method to be published online April 4 in Clinical Trials. “This ‘learning and improving’ loop will enable health-care institutions to more rapidly fold improvements into their medical practices,” he said….

    …”The idea of embedding research into clinical care has been around for quite awhile but to my knowledge this is the first time that a randomized trial has been fully integrated into a hospital’s informatics system,” said Fiore. “It demonstrates an effective way to use electronic medical records to improve health care at a local level.”…

  • People believe ‘antibiotic myths’ (bbc.co.uk)
  • European Antibiotics Awareness Day (2020health.wordpress.com)
  • GPs told to resist antibiotics requests for coughs and colds (guardian.co.uk)
  • Antibiotics will never cure a cold (aboundingwellness.wordpress.com)
  • Health Tip: Why Antibiotic Resistance Is Serious (nlm.nih.gov)

November 20, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , | Leave a comment

Simple guidelines decreased unnecessary antibiotic use in Quebec, Canada

 

Bandeau du Conseil du Medicament

 

 

 

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From the 26 July 2011 Eureka Alert

Antibiotic overuse and resistance have emerged as major threats during the past two decades. Following an outbreak of Clostridium difficile infections, which often result from antibiotic use, health care professionals in Quebec, Canada targeted physicians and pharmacists with an education campaign that reduced outpatient antibiotic use, according to a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases and now available online.

The Quebec Minister of Health and the Quebec Medication Council collaborated with designated physicians and pharmacists to develop guidelines to improve prescribing practices. First issued in January 2005, the guidelines emphasized proper antibiotic use, including not prescribing antibiotics when viral infections were suspected and selecting the shortest possible duration of treatment. Approximately 30,000 printed copies of the original recommendations were distributed to all physicians and pharmacists in Quebec. An additional 193,500 copies were downloaded from the Medication Council’s website.

(The current versions of the guidelines are available online: http://www.cdm.gouv.qc.ca/site/aid=166.phtml.)

During the year after the guidelines were initially distributed, the number of outpatient antibiotic prescriptions in Quebec decreased 4.2 percent. In other Canadian provinces, the number of these prescriptions increased 6.5 percent during the same period.

According to study author Karl Weiss, MD, of the University of Montreal, “It is possible to decrease antibiotic consumption when physicians, pharmacists, state governments, etc., are working together for a common goal. This is the key to success: having everybody involved and speaking with a common voice.”

Dr. Weiss added, “Simple, short, easy-to-use guidelines have an impact on physicians when they are readily available. The web is an increasingly important tool to reach our audience and should now be used as such in the future. With handheld electronic devices available for all health care professionals, these downloadable guidelines can be accessed and used at any time and any circumstance.”

July 26, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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