1) 'Bacterial dirigibles' emerge as next-generation disease fighters
I don't know how many people are aware how much genetic engineering already goes on. Once the industry took off... well, it took off like wildfire. It's pretty common to do exactly what is stated in this article: "...Traditional genetic engineering reprograms bacteria so that they produce antibiotics, insulin, and other medicines and materials. The bacteria grow in nutrient solutions in enormous stainless steel vats in factories. They release antibiotics or insulin into vats, and technicians harvest the medicine for processing and eventual use in people."
In this experiment, they programmed E. coli not to pump out antibiotics into a vat in some factory somewhere... No, they created a version of E. coli that could target a portion of the intestine and adhere to it, and begin sending out chemical signals that influenced the production of proteins in different cells around it.
So I'm trying to understand this. They took E. coli, the bacteria that often makes people sick, and made a version that delivers itself to a specific part of the body and is programmed to affect other cells near it. Crazy.
What if this sort of "bacterial dirigible" could seek out and find remote Borrelia burgdorferi in collagen-rich tissues, in the adventitia of the heart, and in the brain? Does this have potential for killing the remaining spirochetes that may survive the initial onslaught of antibiotics?
2) Researchers in Finland Build Giant Multitouch Microscope
This is just too cool. I want one. I want to see my spirochetes on this sucker. [Time 1:43]
I think Leeuwenhoek would have just about shit himself if he saw one of those...
3) In the absence of Vitamin A, the body loses immune cells that put the brakes on the earliest stages of infection
So these researchers fed these mice a Vitamin A-free diet, and when they did, the mice had lower levels of IgA and IgM. They were given pneumonia vaccines and produced zero response. And then, the researchers tried to transplant B1 cells from healthy mice to these deficient mice - only to find that the B1 cells deteriorated, didn't last that long, and died off over several days.
However, the good news is, they found out the stem cells in the deficient mice's bone marrow could give rise to B1 cells - but they wouldn't do it unless they had some Vitamin A.
The researchers found out that a transcription factor protein found in activated T cells (NFATc1), regulates expression of numerous important genes in B1 cells. The researchers observed reduced NFATc1 levels in the mice's deficient B1 cells, but found that expression could be largely restored if these mice were injected with ATRA, a product of cellular vitamin A metabolism. After this injection, B cells increased more than four fold in number in ten days.
Having a balanced diet is definitely important for the immune system, and being deficient in Vitamin A would be problematic. Something so simple.
Even though it sounds like a good idea to take lots of Vitamin A given the immune system benefit, it doesn't work that way: if you're deficient, you need more; if you're taking too much, you need less because it can damage your liver and by extension kidneys because of too much calcium there. (It's also bad to consume high quantities during pregnancy - it can lead to failure to thrive in newborns.)
So get a test to see if you're deficient in Vitamin A first - and if so, then it's pretty easy to find foods full of Vitamin A.
One thing that comes to mind after reading this is that recently I've read a paper, 'The Important And Diverse Roles of Antibodies in Host Response to Borrelia' by Laroca and Benach. In it, it mentions that B1 cell or x-linked immunodeficiency leads to more severe spirochetemia with B. hermsii... B1 b cells are needed for IgM antibody response.
Maruya, M., Suzuki, et al. Vitamin A-dependent transcriptional activation of the nuclear factor of activated T cells c1 (NFATc1) is critical for the development and survival of B1 cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 108, 722–727 (2011). http://www.pnas.org/content/108/2/722.short
4) Two new studies seek to validate the results of a retracted 2004 paper on parasite-to-host gene transfer, but skepticism lingers
|Do not let this bug kiss you - it can |
carry Chagas disease parasites...
So this is kind of insane. Interesting and insane. The claim is being made for what might be the first documented instance of lateral gene transfer from the parasite that causes Chagas disease to not only its host but also a following vertical transfer to the host's offspring.
WTF. This is almost as far out as Lynn Margulis' claims about Borrelia burgdorferi.
These two recent studies are supposed to confirm the research found in a 2004 paper published in Cell which was later retracted. That paper showed - or supposedly showed - that University of Brasilia researchers found that T. cruzi could transfer genetic material to its rabbit, chicken, and human hosts. This sort of gene transfer - specifically of mitochondrial kinetoplast DNA (kDNA) - may contribute to the disease by disrupting host gene function and causing an autoimmune response.
Those looking at the newer research are eyeing it cautiously because of the earlier publication's retraction, which was done because Cell's staff made the determination that certain important information was missing from the paper. Speculation was that it was because identification and analysis of the specific sites of DNA integration were omitted.
I think this study and the two subsequent studies recently done will need to be repeated by another party not related to them, since this would be pretty big news if it's true. Also, someone needs to make sure their PCR methods don't create weird chimeras in passing.
M.M. Hecht et al., "Inheritance of DNA transferred from American trypanosomes to human hosts," PLoS ONE, 5: e918, 2010.
A.R.L. Teixeira et al., "Trypanosoma cruzi in the chicken model: Chagas-like heart disease in the absence of parasitism," PLoS Negl Trop Dism, 5: e1000, 2011.
And here's a bonus link set for my readers who are interested in aberrant and unusual contrails in the sky:http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v1/n1/full/nclimate1078.html
Here is the study to which the above article refers:
It was posted at the source on March 29, so I reassure you that it was not an April Fool news item.