Monday, September 12, 2011

0 Science Articles Of Interest: C. difficile, Alzheimer's, and tinnitus

Since I haven't been doing a regular Friday Four column in some time, I haven't been posting about interesting articles as much lately. I wanted to take the time to point out a few which readers might take an interest in on combatting C. difficile, using antidepressants to fight Alzheimer's disease, and methods of stopping tinnitus in its tracks.

New way to treat common hospital-acquired infection: Novel approach may offer treatment for other bacterial diseases

 ScienceDaily (2011-08-22) -- Researchers have discovered a molecular process by which the body can defend against the effects of Clostridium difficile, an intestinal disease that impacts several million in the U.S. each year. A commonly acquired hospital infection, the disease has become more common, more severe and harder to cure mainly due to the emergence of a new, highly virulent strain of the bacteria that causes it.

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References: Host S-nitrosylation inhibits clostridial small molecule–activated glucosylating toxins. Tor C Savidge, Petri Urvil, Numan Oezguen, Kausar Ali, Aproteem Choudhury, Vinay Acharya, Irina Pinchuk, Alfredo G Torres, Robert D English, John E Wiktorowicz, Michael Loeffelholz, Raj Kumar, Lianfa Shi, Weijia Nie, Werner Braun, Bo Herman, Alfred Hausladen, Hanping Feng, Jonathan S Stamler & Charalabos Pothoulakis. Nature Medicine 17, 1136–1141 (2011)

Comment: The good news about this research is that a drug known as protein s-nitrosylation inhibited Clostridium difficile toxins from destroying intestinal cells, and upcoming clinical trials on human subjects will test this drug treatment.

Antidepressants show signs of countering Alzheimer’s

Widely used antidepressants may reduce the ominous brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease, a new study in mice and humans finds.

Brain scans of people who have taken antidepressants reveal fewer clumps of the protein amyloid-beta, a target of Alzheimer’s prevention strategies, when compared with people who have not taken the drugs.

Many in the field voiced caution about the results. But if borne out by further study, the findings may point to a new, relatively safe way to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s disease...

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Comment: This makes me wonder how many different drugs we have in use for other purposes may be used to prevent Alzheimer's disease. If Alzheimer's disease is triggered by infection, would antibiotics plus antidepressants be a sensible treatment plan?

Tinnitus discovery could lead to new ways to stop the ringing

Neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley, are offering hope to the 10 percent of the population who suffer from tinnitus – a constant, often high-pitched ringing or buzzing in the ears that can be annoying and even maddening, and has no cure.

Their new findings, published online last week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest several new approaches to treatment, including retraining the brain, and new avenues for developing drugs to suppress the ringing.

"This work is the most clearheaded documentation to this point of what's actually happening in the brain's cortex in ways that account for the ongoing genesis of sound," said Michael Merzenich, professor emeritus of otolaryngology at UC San Francisco and inventor of the cochlear implant, who was not involved with the research. "As soon as I read the paper, I said, 'Of course!' It was immediately obvious that this is almost certainly the true way to think about it."

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