Thursday, 26 November 2015

Antibiotic Resistance: World on Cusp of 'Post-Antibiotic Era'


Antibiotic Resistance - Antibiotic Apocalypse

Scientists on observing that bacteria resistant to drugs used, when all the other treatments have failed, havelearned that the world is on the point of a `post-antibiotic era’. It has been identified that the bacteria is capable of shrugging off the drug in patients and livestock in China and is said that the resistance could extend all over the world giving rise to untreatable infections.

It is a likely resistance that has come up after colistin was overused in farm animals. Bacteria that tend to be totally resistant to treatment is also known as the antibiotic apocalypse which would result in the treatment of medicine being unsuccessful. Cancer therapies and surgery which tend to depend on antibiotics could face problems.

Chinese scientists have identified a new change known as the MCR-1 gene which tends to prevent colistin from eliminating the bacteria. According to the report in the Lancet Infectious Diseases, it portrayed resistance in a fifth of animals that were tested, in 15% of raw meat samples and in 16 patients. The resistance is said to spread between the range of bacterial strains and species which include E. coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Transfer Rate of Resistance Gene Incredibly High

There is also indication that it has extended to Laos and Malaysia. Prof Timothy Walsh from the University of Cardiff, who worked on the study, informed BBC News website that all the key players were in place now, making the post-antibiotic world a reality.

He added that if MCR-1 tends to become global, and the gene aligns itself with the other antibiotics resistance gene which is unavoidable, then there is a possibility of reaching the start of the post-antibiotic era. At that point, if the patient is seriously ill for instance with E. coli, there will be almost nothing that can be done. Resistance to colistin had come up earlier but the vital difference is the mutation has risen in a way which is shared easily between bacteria.

According to Prof Mark Wilcox from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, he states that the transfer rate of this resistance gene is incredibly high, that does not look good. His hospital is now dealing with various cases and attempting to find an antibiotic.

Wake-up Call for the World

The apprehension is that the new resistance gene tend to catch up with others affecting hospitals, resulting in bacteria resistant to all treatment known as pan-resistance. Prof Wilcox has informed BBC News website not to worry and that they will get to an untreatable organism situation.

Early signs suggest that the Chinese government is moving in the direction of addressing the issue. Prof Walsh would be meeting the agricultural as well as the health ministries to discuss if colistin should be banned for agricultural use. From the campaign group Antibiotic Action, Prof Laura Piddock has informed that the same antibiotics should not be utilised in veterinary and human medicine.

She also informed the BBC News website that they are hoping that the post-antibiotic era is not on them yet, but this could be a wake-up call for the world. She debates that the dawning of the post-antibiotic era tends to depend on the infection, the patient and if there are alternative treatment choices available, since combination of antibiotics could still be effective.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Frontal Brain Wrinkle Linked To Hallucinations


Frontal Brain Wrinkle – Distinguishing Real Perception

Research of 153 brain scans has led to certain understanding near the front of each hemisphere to hallucinations in schizophrenia. The folds seem to be shorter in patients who tend to hallucinate when compared to those who do not. It is said to be an area of the brain which seems to play a part in distinguishing real perceptions from the imaginary ones.

Findings published by researchers in Nature Communications indicate that it could ultimately assist with early diagnosis. Paracingulate sulcus or PCS, the brain wrinkle tends to differ considerably in shape among individuals and is one of the last folds to develop in the brain only just before birth.

According to a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge, UK, Jon Simons states that the brain tends to develop all throughout the life, however characteristics such as the PCS is going to be a mainly noticeable fold or not could be apparent in the brain at an initial stage. It could also be that a reduction in this brain fold tends to give somebody a predisposition in developing something like hallucination at their later stage of life.

Schizophrenia – A Complex Phenomenon

If additional work, for instance, indicates that the difference could be detected prior to the onset of the symptoms, Dr Simons informs that there could be a possibility of providing extra help to people who may face that risk. However, he focused that schizophrenia seems to be a complex phenomenon.

Hallucinations seems to be one of the foremost symptoms though some of the individuals are diagnosed based on other unbalanced thought procedures. Dr Simons together with his colleagues utilised data from the Australian Schizophrenia Research Bank and structural MRI scan illuminating the detailed physical dimensions of 153 individual brains with 113 people having schizophrenia and 40 healthy controls. The team were able to choose its samples prudently since the database comprised of other important information regarding the subjects.

 Dr Simons informed BBC that they selected patients putting them into each groups and those two groups are directly comparable as possible. The schizophrenia patients were split into those with a history of hallucinations around 79 and those without about 34; however these two groups were closed matched in other ways.

PCS Involved in Brain Networks

Aspects like the individual’s age, medication, sex and whether they were left or right handed were taken in consideration. The only difference between the two groups was that one groups experienced hallucination while the other did not, was as close as they could get it. The team looked for differences in the PCS, during the brain scans since they knew from earlier study that the length of this fold indicated a correlation with people’s certainty monitoring ability.

This was reflected in the patients facing hallucination and on an average they had a PCS which was around 2cm shorter than the patient who did not suffer hallucination and 3cm shorter than the healthy controls. Jane Carrison, the study’s first author said that though other factors seemed to be certainly responsible when a brain tends to generate hallucination, this was an important observation She explained that the PCS was involved in brain networks which helps in recognising information which have been generated by the individual. People with shorter PCS are less capable of distinguishing the origin of such information and appear more likely to experience it like having been generated externally.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Chagas Disease


Chagas Disease - Transmitted – Bite of Insect Triatominae/Kissing Bug

Chagas is considered as the kissing disease since the infection tends to get transmitted from the bite of an insect known as Triatominae, also known as a kissing bug which likes to feed on a warm blooded animal’s face while it sleeps. This disease is generally caused by a sub-tropical protozoan parasite – Trypanosoma Cruzi – T. Cruzi and this parasite enters the blood stream of its host and begins the repetition process ultimately infecting every cell of the body with parasitic protozoa duplicates.

The victim often does not show any signs of infection till around 10 and 30 years thereafter, when the chronic phase of the disease tends to become obvious. This disease has been named after Dr Carlos Chagas who had discovered the blood parasite in 1909. Till mid-1960, the disease was not considered or recognized as a health threat in the United States. Chagas is limited mainly in Mexico and Central and South America and the reports of infection epidemic in the United State as well as Europe are generally treated in the initial stages of development.

Symptoms of Chagas Disease

Symptoms of Chagas tend to change over time when the infection slowly spreads in the entire body. At the initial stage of the infection, the victim generally does not show any signs of at times mild symptoms of fever, headaches, swollen glands, diarrhoea, sluggishness, loss of appetite and redness/swelling at the areas of entry to the body.

If Chagas for instance has been the result of a bite, the area surrounding the bite will show signs of infection and if contracted orally through ingestion, the signs of infection would be in the mouth and throat. Within the period of 2 – 3 months of infection without treatment, the victim with Chagas disease will pass in the chronic phase and the chronic symptoms consist of speech impairment, loss of balance and confusion which generally tends to take place due to the severe brain swelling linked with Chagas disease.

People in the chronic phase without being treated would become either asymptomatic, not showing any further signs of symptoms or they would develop disturbing health problems years after the earlier symptoms show up. These chronic health problems may include severe inflammation in the oesophagus, colon, glands, lungs, kidneys, brain as well as the heart.

Anti-Parasitic Drugs/Immunotherapies Effective Treatment

As the symptoms of this disease as well as the reproduction cycle are alike as that of HIV, its treatment is the same too. Anti-parasitic drugs and immunotherapiesare very effective at the time of acute phase of the disease which brings about 85% cures to those infected.

However, during the chronic phase, anti-parasitic drugs and immunotherapies have shown to slow down the inception of the disease though not totally eliminate it from the infected person. Unfortunately for those who are already in the chronic stages of this disease, there seems to be no cure and the treatment involves dealing all the symptoms as they tend to take place like stem cell therapy, organ transplantation surgery and the utilisation of immunosuppression drugs.

Since no vaccines have been created to stop the spread of Chagas disease, preventive measures need to be taken in consideration to ensure a lower risk of infections which include reducing the number of insect who tend to carry the parasite and early blood screening tests in individuals who live or travel within infected areas.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Meningitis jab in Africa a stunning success


According to experts, a mass vaccination programme against meningitis A in Africa has been successful and over 220 million people were inoculated across 16 countries in the region’s meningitis belt. The meningitis belt stretches from sub-Saharan Africa to Gambia in the west to Ethiopia in the east. In 2013, across the total region, there were only four cases which had once faced thousands of death every year.

But World Health Organisation had warned that `huge epidemics’ would return if new vaccination programme does not tend to begin. The worst epidemic ever recorded was in 1996-97, where the disease had swept over the belt affecting more than a quarter of a million people leading to 25,000 deaths. The MenAfriVac, unlike other vaccines had been designed especially for Africa and a mass vaccination campaign had been started in 2010.

Dr Marie-Pierre Preziosi from World Health Organisation had stated that the disease had virtually disappeared from that part of the world. This mass immunisation programme was intended for individuals below 30 years but routine vaccination would be essential to make sure that the new-borns are not susceptible to the disease.

Game-Changer in Global Health with New Vaccine

Steve Davis, president and CEO of PATH that is an international non-profit organization which together with partners including the World Health Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and African government officials who have worked to research, develop and deliver a meningitis

A vaccine has commented that they are seeing a game-changer in global health with the new vaccine which has the ability to move toward elimination of the disease. Sub-Saharan African for atleast a century had the world’s highest rate of meningitis A, which is a severe infection of the thin lining of the brain and the spinal cord.

It is an airborne disease which tends to kill around 10% of the patients, usually infants, children and young adults. Among those who tend to survive, around 1 in 5 suffers severe brain damage or deafness. There are five kinds of meningitis where meningitis A is rare in other areas of the world, According to PATH, epidemics have taken place in Africa often about every eight to 12 years but it is not known why though environmental elements like dust drought, humidity tend to play a role.

Meningitis Vaccination Project – In Motion in 2001

In 1996, when an epidemic had spread through the region, around 250,000 people were affected and 25,000 had died. Davis informed that it was one of the things which parents feared the most, more than malaria, since if kids did not die, they would be neurologically damaged. The health ministers together with other African leaders, after the epidemics had approached WHO seeking help.

The Meningitis Vaccination Project had been set in motion in 2001 to create a vaccine suitable to prevent meningitis A which would be affordable for developing nations. Huge pharmaceutical companies in rich countries were not willing to take on what they envisaged as an unprofitable project, the manufacture of vaccine which would be sold below 50 cents a dose.

However, a pharmaceutical company in the developing world, the Serum Institute of India with support from foundations and international aid organizations, linked the effort and could produce a high volume of vaccine for under 50 cents for each inoculation according to Davis.


Thursday, 12 November 2015

Deadly Diesel Pollution has been hiding in Plain Sight


Diesel Pollution – Unobserved/Unreported

A new study from the University of York research has given details on the impact of long chain hydrocarbon found in the emissions from diesel engines, which had been unobserved and unreported. As per the study, `longer chain hydrocarbons that is released from the diesel vehicles does not seem to be clearly as part of air quality plans and there are some direct measurements of their abundant gaseous in the atmosphere.

But the research team have developed a methodology to measure levels of the hydrocarbons that are signs to the formation of ozone and particulate substance which are both considered as pollutants of specific apprehension. The effect of long chain hydrocarbons has been basically overlooked by car manufacturers as well as official air quality measurements which is about to change.

Dr Jacqueline Hamilton, who is the lead author of the study, informed BBC that `there is actually a lot of this unburned material from diesel which we have not seen earlier. That could be having a bigger effect on ozone and particle formation than petrol cars tend to be and historically no one has looked at these emissions at all’.

Particulate Matter – Overwhelming Impact on Health

Particulate matter is said to have a possibly overwhelming impact on the health of those who are exposed to it and the study perceived that presently in the UK, exposure to particulate matter is likely to reduce life expectancy on an average by seven to eight months and with a public cost probably up to £20 billion annually.

It was found in a study carried out in London that around 50% of ozone production in winter was owing to long chain hydrocarbons from diesel which also added to 25% of summer ozone formation. Dr Hamilton stated that it has a large impact on air quality in their cities and the number of death linked with particle pollutions seems much higher than those from nitrogen dioxide.

The attention of the media had been drawn to diesel pollution after the disclosure that Volkswagen had falsely reported its car’s diesel emissions in the USA. It is a known fact that diesel tends to contribute severely to air pollution though following the signing of the Kyoto procedure climate change agreement in 1997, Europe had supported as well as subsidized the sale of diesel cars owing to their lower CO2 releases.

Concerned Deeply in Nitrogen Dioxide/Toxic Particulate Matter

Professor Paul Monks of the University of Leicester, who heads the UK government’s air quality expert group, informed BBC that the new research tends to raise yet another question regarding diesel vehicles. They are concerned deeply in nitrogen dioxide, in toxic particulate matter and this indicates to another deleterious environment effect from diesel’.

Nitrogen dioxide pollution from diesel adds to the formation of photo-chemical smog like that seen across Europe earlier in the year. According to new data, a situation is described as a disgrace by one MEP, it is said that a modern diesel car tends to pump more toxic pollution than a bus or a heavy truck

As per a report from the Norwegian Centre for Transport Research, diesel cars that were tested in Norway, produced quadruple of nitrogen dioxide releases of large buses and lorries in city driving conditions. Another study for Transport for London portrayed that a small car in the super mini class released several time more nitrogen oxides than most of the HGVs and the same amount that of a 40 tonne vehicle.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Most Skin-Based Viruses are Totally Unknown to Science


Microbes Living On & Within Us – Good Health/Cause of Disease

Researchers together with the public are being aware that microbes living on and within us – `micro-biomes’, could be vital in maintenance of good health or the cause of disease. Skin resident bacteria by no means are an exception and they help to ward off dangerous infection as well as maintain good skin immunity together with wound healing but in certain situations could do the reverse.

A new study has observed that a majority of DNA viruses that have been found on human skin has not been described before. With the use of mapping techniques in isolating virus like particles from the skin swabs of 16 healthy participants, the team from the University of Pennsylvania discovered that about 95% of skin resident viruses seem to be uncharacterised, basically `viral dark matter’ wherein the presence is felt though the character seems to be uncertain.

According to Elizabeth A. Grice, senior author, PhD and an assistant professor of Dermatology at Penn Medicine commented that there is a need for better understanding of these viruses, considering their potential effects on the skin cells and the resident bacteria. Till now, comparatively less work has been done in this area in part due to the technical challenges involved.

Features of Viral Genetic Substance

A skin swab for instance, taken for the purpose of analysis would comprise of generally human and bacterial DNA with only a small amount of viral genetic material. Earlier mapping efforts utilised databases of known viral genes to identify some of the viral genetic material in all the bacteria and human DNA. However such approaches tend to overlook the viruses not classified in databases.

 With enhanced techniques in isolating virus like particles – VLPs, from the skin swabs and analysing very small quantity of genetic material, the research team were capable of aiming their sequence and analysis on viral DNA without totally depending on previously prevailing databases and made a breakthrough on analysing material afresh.

According to senior author, Elizabeth Grice, the team found that the material had features of viral genetic substance though no taxonomic classification.The most common infecting virus which was found by the researchers was the human papilloma virus that was connected to some kind of skin cancer. They also found that the viruses were location based.

Procedure Developed for DNA Sequence Analysis

Samples from forehead, palm, armpit and the other areas collected by the team for instance, revealed that viruses were more varied in areas which were occasionally exposed and covered like the wrinkle of an elbow. Moreover, the research also recognised a standard for investigations in the future studies of the normal, healthy skin virome together with a set of virus analysis tool which would now be made available to scientists for additional research in human viruses.

The University of Pennsylvania team conducting the research are now utilising the method in researching the variability of skin viruses as well as analysing virus response to issues like antibiotic use and ultraviolet radiation exposure.

Grice together with her colleagues also made available along with the paper’s supplemental information, the procedures they had developed for the DNA sequence analysis. She informed that it is freely available so that the people could do their own research or reproduce results.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Scientists Are Working on a Drug to Mimic Exercise


Scientist Investigating If Pill Could Compensate Effect of Workout

Scientists from the University of Sydney have been researching on what exercises could do to the body while investigating if pill could compensate the effect of a workout and one study looks at how the physical activity tends to affect the molecules in the muscles.Another has checked on chemicals which could be utilised in an exercise pill and how it could compare with regular gym session.

The concept is being cultivated for medical commitments to aid people who would be unable to exercise. If the pill tends to be a reality, it would probably take at least another 10 years. New research published in the journal – Cell Metabolism has reported that around 1,000 molecular changes tend to take place in our muscles when the workout is carried out.

These changes have been recognised and scientists have been successful in having an exercise – blueprint. They would soon be capable of using this blueprint which would provide details of the molecular reactions to exercise and single out the main changes and begin duplicating them with the assistance of the drug. This indicates that we would soon be getting all the benefits of exercise without the need of workout.

Exercise Most Powerful Therapy for Several Diseases

The head of the research group that commenced the study, Professor David James explained that exercise is the most powerful therapy for several human diseases inclusive of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease as well as neurological disorders.

But for several people, exercise does not seem to be a feasible option of treatment. Researchers from the University of Sydney have worked along with the researchers from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark in creating the blueprint. They have collected all the data by analysing human skeletal muscle biopsies from untrained, healthy males after a ten minute of exercising and used the technique known as mass spectrometry in order to study protein phosphorylation.

It was then that they observed that after exercising, more than 1,000 changes had taken place at a molecular level. Until now, there were very few changes which had been linked with exercises. Research co-author, Dr Nolan Hoffman had explained that while scientists had long suspected that exercises tends to cause complicated series of changes to human muscles, this was the first time that they were capable of mapping precisely what happens.

Recent Study a Step in the Right Direction

He added that this was a main breakthrough since it enables scientist to utilise this information in designing a drug which imitates the true beneficial changes related to exercises. Creating the drug would be simple and as per Hoffman, it would take at least a decade, since any kind of medication would be needed to target multiple molecules simultaneously.

But the recent study has certainly been a step in the right direction. Professor James stated that the data clearly indicate the complexity of the response and it is not one thing though rather the drug would have to aim multiple things and that their research has made provision of a roadmap to figure it out. In the meanwhile, a separate study in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences studied the possibility of exercise pills and compared these with the effect of regular exercise.

Ismail Laher, one of the authors informed The Washington Post, that he needed to be clear that there is no way to replace routine exercise with an exercise pill. He stated that exercise needs the heart rate to go up, blood to flow faster and one cannot do that with an exercise pill, but in certain groups, it is the next best thing.