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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Press release] New nanodevice defeats drug resistance

New nanodevice defeats drug resistance 

From the 3 March 2015 MIT press release

Tiny particles embedded in gel can turn off drug-resistance genes, then release cancer drugs.

Chemotherapy often shrinks tumors at first, but as cancer cells become resistant to drug treatment, tumors can grow back. A new nanodevice developed by MIT researchers can help overcome that by first blocking the gene that confers drug resistance, then launching a new chemotherapy attack against the disarmed tumors.

The device, which consists of gold nanoparticles embedded in a hydrogel that can be injected or implanted at a tumor site, could also be used more broadly to disrupt any gene involved in cancer.

“You can target any genetic marker and deliver a drug, including those that don’t necessarily involve drug-resistance pathways. It’s a universal platform for dual therapy,” says Natalie Artzi, a research scientist at MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES), an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, and senior author of a paper describing the device in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of March 2.

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March 7, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] New Strain of Bird Flu Packs a Punch Even After Becoming Drug-Resistant

English: Countries that have reported swine fl...

English: Countries that have reported swine flu Tamiflu resistance. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 11 December 2013 ScienceDaily article

 

Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai reported that a virulent new strain of influenza — the virus that causes the flu — appears to retain its ability to cause serious disease in humans even after it develops resistance to antiviral medications. The finding was included in a study that was published today in the journal Nature Communications.

It is not uncommon for influenza viruses to develop genetic mutations that make them less susceptible to anti-flu drugs. However, these mutations usually come at a cost to the virus, weakening its ability to replicate and to spread from one person to another.

Initial reports suggested that H7N9, an avian strain of influenza A that emerged in China last spring, could rapidly develop a mutation that made it resistant to treatment with the antiviral medication Tamiflu (oseltamivir). However, patients in whom drug resistance developed often had prolonged, severe infections and poor clinical outcomes. No vaccine is currently available to prevent H7N9, which infected at least 135 people and caused 44 deaths during the outbreak. In the absence of a vaccine, antiviral drugs are the only means of defense for patients who are infected with new strains of the flu.

“In this outbreak, we saw some differences in the behavior of H7N9 and other avian influenza strains that can infect humans, beginning with the rapid development of antiviral resistance in some people who were treated with oseltamivir and the persistence of high viral loads in those patients,” said lead investigator Nicole Bouvier, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

December 13, 2013 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Untreatable: Report by CDC details today’s drug-resistant health threats

From the US Centers for Disease Control 16 September press release 

Landmark report ranks threats, outlines four core actions to halt resistance

Infographic: Progress made in preventing heart diseaseInfographic:” National Summary Data on Antibiotic Resistance in the U.S.”
Text Version Adobe PDF file

Every year, more than two million people in the United States get infections that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a result, according to a new report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The report, Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013, presents the first snapshot of the burden and threats posed by antibiotic-resistant germs having the most impact on human health.  The threats are ranked in categories: urgent, serious, and concerning.

Threats were assessed according to seven factors associated with resistant infections: health impact, economic impact, how common the infection is, a 10-year projection of how common it could become, how easily it spreads, availability of effective antibiotics, and barriers to prevention.  Infections classified as urgent threats include carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), drug-resistant gonorrhea, and Clostridium difficile, a serious diarrheal infection usually associated with antibiotic use.  C. difficile causes about 250,000 hospitalizations and at least 14,000 deaths every year in the United States.

“Antibiotic resistance is rising for many different pathogens that are threats to health,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “If we don’t act now, our medicine cabinet will be empty and we won’t have the antibiotics we need to save lives.”

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Four Core Actions to Fight Antibiotic Resistance

  1. Preventing Infections, Preventing the Spread of Resistance
  2. Tracking Resistance Patterns
  3. Improving Use of Today’s Antibiotics (Antibiotic Stewardship)
  4. Developing New Antibiotics and Diagnostic Tests

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Read the entire press release here

 

September 21, 2013 Posted by | health care, Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hydrogen Peroxide Vapor Enhances Hospital Disinfection of Superbugs

From the 30 December 2012 article at ScienceDaily

Infection control experts at The Johns Hopkins Hospital have found that a combination of robot-like devices that disperse a bleaching agent into the air and then detoxify the disinfecting chemical are highly effective at killing and preventing the spread of multiple-drug-resistant bacteria, or so-called hospital superbugs.

In the study, the Johns Hopkins team placed the devices in single hospital rooms after routine cleaning to disperse a thin film of the bleaching hydrogen peroxide across all exposed hospital equipment surfaces, as well as on room floors and walls. Results showed that the enhanced cleaning reduced by 64 percent the number of patients who later became contaminated with any of the most common drug-resistant organisms. Moreover, researchers found that protection from infection was conferred on patients regardless of whether the previous room occupant was infected with drug-resistant bacteria or not.

“Hydrogen peroxide vapor, as spread around patients’ rooms by these devices, represents a major technological advance in preventing the spread of dangerous bacteria inside hospitals and, especially, from one patient occupant to the next, even though sick patients were never in the same room at the same time,” says infectious disease specialist and study senior investigator Trish Perl, M.D., M.Sc.

Of special note, researchers say, was that enhanced cleaning with the vapor reduced by 80 percent a patient’s chances of becoming colonized by a particularly aggressive and hard-to-treat bacterium, vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE)…

 

Read the entire article here

 

January 2, 2013 Posted by | health care | , , | Leave a comment

Novel Index For Tracking Drug Resistance – Drug Resistance Index

 

A schematic representation of how antibiotic r...

Image via Wikipedia, A schematic representation of how antibiotic resistance is enhanced by natural selection,

From the 17 November 2011 Medical News Today article

Ramanan Laxminarayan, Director of Extending the Cure, and Keith P. Klugman, Professor of Global Health at Emory University describe a novel index for tracking resistance in a report published in this week’s British Medical Journal Open.

Similar to a Consumer Price Index (CPI) but for drug resistance, the tool accumulates information of resistance trends andantibiotic use into one single measure of antibiotic resistance over time. The DRI is designed for application at any level, from local hospitals to national healthcare system surveillance. It can be used by hospitals to track their own resistance levels and to measure their own success of interventions, such as antibiotic stewardship and infection control programs.

The researchers explain how the index can be applied to evaluate trends in resistance linked to two disease-causing microorganisms, namely Escherichia coli and Acinetobacter baumannii. It is also able to highlight how physicians adapt to resistance trends. In this analysis for example, the index displayed how physicians were able to use other drugs for treating resistant strains of E. coli infections, and how very few options remained for treating Acinetobacter, a super bug, which is more and more resistant to all available antibiotics. Laxminarayan declared: ……

Read the article

 

November 17, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News, Public Health | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Economics and evolution help scientists identify new strategy to control antibiotic resistance

A schematic representation of how antibiotic r...

Image via Wikipedia

Economics and evolution help scientists identify new strategy to control antibiotic resistance

From the March 18 2011 Science Daily news article

ScienceDaily (Mar. 20, 2011) — A team of scientists from the University of Oxford, U.K. have taken lessons from Adam Smith and Charles Darwin to devise a new strategy that could one day slow, possibly even prevent, the spread of drug-resistant bacteria. In a new research report published in the March 2011 issue of Genetics, [Abstract***]the scientists show that bacterial gene mutations that lead to drug resistance come at a biological cost not borne by nonresistant strains. They speculate that by altering the bacterial environment in such a way to make these costs too great to bear, drug-resistant strains would eventually be unable to compete with their nonresistant neighbors and die off.

“Bacteria have evolved resistance to every major class of antibiotics, and new antibiotics are being developed very slowly; prolonging the effectiveness of existing drugs is therefore crucial for our ability to treat infections,” said Alex Hall, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford. “Our study shows that concepts and tools from evolutionary biology and genetics can give us a boost in this area by identifying novel ways to control the spread of resistance.”

The research team measured the growth rates of resistant and susceptible Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria in a wide range of laboratory conditions. They found that the cost of antibiotic resistance has a cost to bacteria, and can be eliminated by adding chemical inhibitors of the enzyme responsible for resistance to the drug. Leveling the playing field increased the ability of resistant bacteria to compete effectively against sensitive strains in the absence of antibiotics. Given that the cost of drug resistance plays an important role in preventing the spread of resistant bacteria, manipulating the cost of resistance may make it possible to prevent resistant bacteria from persisting after the conclusion of antibiotic treatment. For instance, new additives or treatments could render antibiotic resistance more costly for bacteria, making it less likely that the resistant strains will persist at the end of treatment.

“If we’ve learned one thing about microscopic organisms over the past century, it’s that they evolve quickly, and that we can’t stop the process,” said Mark Johnston, Editor-in-Chief of the journal GENETICS. “This research turns this fact against the bacteria. This is an entirely new strategy for extending the useful life of antibiotics, and possibly for improving the potency of old ones.”

March 22, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News, Public Health | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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