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Latest on Infectious diseases

Increased risk of Type I diabetes observed in mice administered with antibiotics:

Young mice administered with doses of antibiotics equivalent to those used in children had an increased risk for type I diabetes according to a recent publication in the journal "Nature Microbiology". The research led by Dr. Martin J. Blaser found that the NOD mice, which are used as animal models for type I diabetes research, when administered antibiotics developed type I diabetes more quickly than the control mice. Antibiotics removed the beneficial gut bacteria and completely altered the gut microbiome. This is the first study to link perturbed microbial gut flora to antibiotic administration resulting in metabolic changes thus leading to type I diabetes.

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Bacteriophage therapy found to be useful for treating diabetic toe ulcers in humans.

With the increasing number of diabetic patients globally, diabetic foot ulcers is becoming a public health concern with antibiotic resistance and concomitant treatment failures exacerbating this growing problem. In this article a phage Sb-1, which infects and kills S. aureus was used to treat patients with S. aureus infected diabetic toe ulcers that failed all previous antibiotic therapy on compassionate-use basis. According to the publication, remarkable improvement in wound healing was observed with phage therapy and all ulcers healed within seven weeks.

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A new antibiotic that kills Staphylococcus aureus discovered in human nose!

A commensal bacteria called Staphylococcus lugdunensis that normally resides in the nose was found to produce a potent peptide antibiotic that kills the drug-resistant superbug Staphylococcus aureus. This peptide antibiotic called Lugdunin was serendipitously discovered by a group of scientists from the University of Tubingen, Germany, while studying nasal colonization of S. aureus in humans. Their research showed that people carrying S. lugdunensis in the nasal cavity are less likely to be nasally colonized with S. aureus and further research attributed this to production of lugdunin by S. lugdunensis. In addition to killing S. aureus, lugdunin was also found to kill vancomycin resistant Enterococcus. This discovery suggests that more bacteria residing in the human body could be harnessed to discover new antibiotics.

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FDA accepts new drug application for a novel antibiotic to treat community acquired bacterial pneumonia:

The U.S FDA has accepted two new drug applications (NDA), for the oral and IV formulations of Solithera. Solithera (solithromycin) from Cempra is a novel next-generation macrolide antibiotic used for treating community-acquired bacterial pneumonia. It is more potent than azithromycin, an approved macrolide antibiotic and is active against macrolide-resistant strains. A recently concluded phase III study indicated non inferiority over moxifloxacin. Solithromycin will be the first antibiotic in twenty five years for treating community acquired bacterial pneumonia.

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Bacteria resistant to drug of last-resort has reached USA:

Colistin, an antibiotic of last resort for Gram negative bacterial infections is the last hope for clinicians when patients fail to respond to any other antibiotic. In a report on May 26th 2016 in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy , researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in USA report that a woman tested positive for colistin resistant E.coli. This is the first report of a plasmid (extra-chromosomal DNA harboring antibiotic resistance genes capable of moving across bacteria) DNA mediated colistin resistance reported in humans in the United States.

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FDA advises restricted use of fluoroquinolone antibiotic:

The U.S FDA issued a safety alert warning on 12th May 2016 to restrict the use of fluoroquinolone for certain uncomplicated infections such as sinusitis and bronchitis unless there are no other treatment options available since these drugs outweigh the benefits. Use of fluoroquinolones is associated with serious side effects that include tendonitis, central nervous system effects, peripheral neuropathy etc. The most common example of fluoroquinolone is ciprofloxacin, a broad spectrum antibiotic.

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Protecting blood vessels could pave the way for treating sepsis:

Sepsis is caused by severe inflammation in the organs due to an overactive immune response to infection. An estimated 19 million people die of this life threatening condition. A hallmark of sepsis is the weakening of blood vessels & leakage of contents leading to complications, and death eventually occurs due to multiorgan failure. In a recent publication in Science translational medicine, researchers from South Korea have found an antibody based solution to prevent the weakening and rupture of blood vessels.The identified antibody, ABTAA (Ang2-binding and Tie2-activating antibody), binds to angiopoietin 2 (ANG2), activates a receptor TIE2 and eventually prevents vascular damage. When tested in sepsis mouse models, ABTAA in combination with antibiotics markedly enhanced survival rates.

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Killing bacterial biofilms the unconventional way:

Scientists at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore report in the Journal Nature communications of a significant breakthrough in improving effectiveness of an existing antibiotic (colistin) in bacterial biofilms with the use of a second antibiotic (erythromycin) that disrupts cell-cell communication & prevents bacterial cell adhesion. This results in killing of the dispersed bacterial cells by colistin. This paves the way for targeting bacterial biofilms with existing antibiotics.

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Free living microbe with the smallest genome:

Researchers led by genome sequencing pioneer Craig Venter have engineered a bacterium to have the smallest genome and the fewest genes of any freely living organism. Named Syn 3.0, the genome from Mycoplasma mycoides has just 473 genes, 52 genes lesser than the previous best, Mycoplasma genitalium . Although these 473 genes are essential, function of 149 genes could not be identified. Many of these 149 genes have homlogs in humans and researchers are now trying to identify functions of these genes.

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A protein helps lock urinary tract infection causing bacteria to cell surface:

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection in most cases caused by the bacteria E.coli. The infection is commonly found in women wherein the bacteria travel from the urethra to the bladder & attach to the surface of the urinary tract without getting flushed out by urine. A study published last week in Nature communications have exhibited for the first time in great detail that the protein FimH on the surface of the bacteria is responsible for the firm adhesion thus protecting the bacteria from being flushed out by urine. This raises the possibility of developing drugs that prevent bacterial attachment & thus avoiding antibiotic administration during UTI infections.

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A paradigm shift required to tackle bacterial drug resistance:A portfolio of non-antibiotic

drug candidates:

Alternatives to antibiotics - a pipeline portfolio review is a vividly written article by a group of twenty four scientists from academia and industry, commissioned by the Wellcome Trust, and jointly funded by the Department of Health (England). The article describes the various approaches being undertaken to develop a non-antibiotic drug for systemic or invasive infections and the tentative year in which the drug will be registered to enter the market. The article emphasizes on the need for increasing the number of projects & funding to bring novel classes of antibacterial drugs to the market.

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Plastic eating bacteria discovered!!

A new species of bacteria called Ideonella sakaiensis that grows on polyethylene terephthalate (PET) was discovered by a group of scientist in Kyoto, Japan. This species of bacteria produces two enzymes that efficiently degrade PET polymer in to two environment friendly monomers called terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol which is then used as carbon source for bacterial growth. Basically, Ideonella sakaiensis uses PET as the energy and carbon source for its growth.Genes coding for these two enzymes were isolated and just the enzymes were shown to degrade PET.

This species was named after Sakai, a city in Japan from where it was discovered.

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Blood test to discriminate bacterial & viral infections:

A blood test to discriminate whether a person is down with bacterial or viral infections could significantly reduce the use of antibiotics. A team of researchers from Duke University, Durham, U.S have obtained promising results trying to understand the differential gene expression patterns in humans when encountered with a bacteria or virus. Science Translational Medicine,

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The Zika virus:

A relatively unknown virus called Zika is on the verge of creating a global pandemic. First isolated in 1947, the virus has been recently linked in Brazil to microcephaly, a physical deformity of the head of newborn babies. Transmitted by the mosquito Aedes aegypti ,new cases are being reported as far as U.S & even in Europe. The WHO has declared it as Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

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