1) Lifesaving antibiotics face doubtful future
Source link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110407121435.htm
Comments: I don't know why this is considered the latest news on ScienceDaily... this plan is basically a repeat of all that is found in the STAAR Act.
I wrote about the IDSA's 2010 testimony to the House Committee back in early January. I posted about it on Lymenet, too.
Did anyone notice back then? I sure hope people notice now.
I'll repeat here what I wrote back in January:
This act should be more familiar to you all, because the STAAR Act stands for "Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance".
Taken from the final 2010 report from the IDSA to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health:
"The STAAR Act strengthens existing efforts by establishing an Antimicrobial Resistance Office (ARO) within the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health. The Director of ARO will serve as the director of the existing interagency task force. The Act also establishes a Public Health Antimicrobial Advisory Board (PHAAB) comprised of infectious diseases and public health experts who will provide much-needed advice to the ARO Director and task force about antimicrobial resistance and strategies to address it. The STAAR Act will strengthen existing surveillance, data collection, and research activities as a means to reduce the inappropriate use of antimicrobials, develop and test new interventions to limit the spread of resistant organisms, and create new tools to detect, prevent and treat drug-resistant “bad bugs.”"
And that's just part of it, really - you ought to read the entire report.
One of the IDSA's broader goals beyond this act is to institute a special fee called "the Antibiotic Innovation and Conservation Fee" on every course of antibiotics used by doctors and veterinarians in the future - both to acquire money for funding new antibiotic development - and to encourage restricted and judicial use of the antibiotics remaining in use. And then there is also the proposal for an "antibiotic stewardship program" which will be intended to track and reduce usage of antibiotics as well as lower medical cost.
This is one of the reasons I mention the issue of needing more research into the issue of persistence, and that it can't wait. It already couldn't wait, but now it becomes a more important issue. If persistence is proven, then long-term use of antibiotics to treat Lyme disease beyond the standard minimum would be accommodated - but if it isn't, then with the passage of the STAAR Act, if the proposed antibiotic stewardship program passes along with it - could affect Lyme disease patients on long-term antibiotics a lot.
How far will this act go, and how does one determine what the "inappropriate use of antimicrobials" actually is?
UV irradiated keyboards - if not UV-C doused rooms between patients - to reduce the spread of potentially deadly MRSA and C. difficile. I see the value of the STAAR Act - especially in reducing the spread of resistant organisms and funding new antibiotics - the world desperately needs new antibiotics, including Lyme disease patients. Even better, I'd like to see development of technology that stops infection in its tracks without the use of antibiotics - thus avoiding the concern over resistance entirely. In the meantime, though? I have concerns this act could potentially be a strike against Lyme disease patients in getting ongoing treatment. It all depends on the implementation.
2) Kill Cancer Naturally - With Hyperbaric Oxygen and Artemisia Annua L. aka Artemisinin
|Artemisia Annua or |
ScienceDaily (Apr. 4, 2011) — An environment of pure oxygen at three-and-a-half times normal air pressure adds significantly to the effectiveness of a natural compound already shown to kill cancerous cells, researchers at the University of Washington and Washington State University recently reported in the journal Anticancer Research.
Comments: And you thought Artemisinin was just for Babesia and Malaria treatment... In the future it might be used to treat cancer - only time will tell.
Seriously, someone needs to do more research using hyperbaric oxygen chambers. This could be something useful - and it should be easy enough to test on human volunteers under the supervision of a medical professional.
Note, though, that this study wasn't on actual people with cancer - it is a study in which the researchers used artemisinin or high-pressure oxygen alone on a culture of human leukemia cells. Results on cancer cells in vivo in people who sit in hyperbaric oxygen chambers may differ - this is something that needs to be tested in the future.
They found out that using either the artemisinin or the oxygen reduced the cancer cells' growth by 15 percent. But if they used them in combination - over a 48 hour period after 90 minutes of high-pressure oxygen - the cancer cells' growth was reduced by 38 percent. That's an over 50 percent increase in artemisinin's effectiveness.
Henry Lai, UW research professor of bioengineering, said that, "Artemisinin is a promising low-cost cancer treatment because it's specific, it's cheap and you don't have to inject it. It's 100 times more specific than traditional chemotherapy. In breast cancer, it's even better."
Is that true? A 100 times more specific? How? Where is he getting this information from? I want to know.
At any rate, it would be interesting to hear more about this and see further studies.
[ Side note: Science Daily's write up mentions that the FDA has approved the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy chambers for Lyme disease - when that is not true. HBOT has only been approved for the use of 13 indications, and Lyme disease is not one of them - treatment with HBOT for Lyme disease is considered an off-label use or experimental. ]
Yusuke Ohgami, Catherine A. Elstad, Eunhee Chung, Donald Y. Shirachi, Raymond M. Quock, Henry C. Lai.Effect of Hyperbaric Oxygen on the Anticancer Effect of Artemisinin on Molt-4 Human Leukemia Cells.Anticancer Research, 2010; 30: 4467-4470 [link]
3) New Tickborne Virus In China Has High Mortality Rate
Source link: http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/20110222214117data_trunc_sys.shtml
Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, scientists explain how a previously unknown and dangerous virus carried by ticks has been responsible for seasonal outbreaks of the disease in six of China's most populated provinces.
The newly discovered pathogen has been dubbed 'Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome virus'. It has been placed in the Bunyaviridae family, along with the hantaviruses and Rift Valley Fever virus.
Symptoms include high fever and gastrointestinal disorder; the mortality rate was initially estimated at 30 percent.
Comments: This is scary. I think between the TBE in Europe and this, my next vacation will be at McMurdo station.
4) New Drugs From Bugs
Source Link: http://www.sciguru.com/newsitem/7751/New-drugs-from-bugs/
|bioluminescent marine |
bacteria on agar
They found the genes are on a relatively small, separate DNA molecule called a plasmid, which is just big enough to carry the genes for making the antibiotic plus genes to allow the plasmid to replicate autonomously in the bacterium. The plasmid thus carries genes that make both the mupirocin-like antibiotic as well a second antibiotic, holomycin, and a gene responsible for joining both antibiotics together, forming a more potent molecule.
Tests showed that by joining the antibiotics together the resulting chemical is able to inhibit the growth of MRSA strains that have become resistant to mupirocin.
Comments: Read more at the link. I think it's pretty interesting to learn about how new antibiotics are made, even though I would like to find a way to fight infection using other medications and other technologies. We really need antibiotics that don't eventually become resistant and don't cause C. difficile infections (or imbalances that lead to infections, in a number of cases) - or we need an entirely different infection-fighting approach. This development of new antibiotics in the meantime is something desperately needed worldwide, and I'm glad to see it happening - I just wonder how long it will take before clinical trials are on the horizon...
A natural plasmid uniquely encodes two biosynthetic pathways creating a potent antibiotic.
D. Fukuda, A. S. Haines, Z. Song, A. Murphy, J. Hothersall, E. R. Stephens, R. Gurney, C.
Riemer, R. Marshall, R. J. Cox, J. Crosby, C. L. Willis, T. J. Simpson and C. M. Thomas,
PLoS ONE, 2011, 6, in press.
Nature Reviews Microbiology 8, 281-289 (April 2010) | doi:10.1038/nrmicro2278
Resistance to and synthesis of the antibiotic mupirocin
Christopher M. Thomas, Joanne Hothersall, Christine L. Willis, Thomas J. Simpson