New class of antibiotics may lead to therapy for drug-resistant tuberculosis

Researchers are hot on the trail of a whole new class of broad-spectrum antibiotics, according to a new report in the October 17th issue of the journal Cell, a Cell Press publication.

The discovery holds promise at a time when a quarter of all deaths worldwide are the result of bacterial infectious diseases, and yet more and more disease-causing bacteria are growing resistant to currently available antibiotics. What’s more, the antibiotics under study in this report may offer a more effective and shorter course of treatment for tuberculosis (TB), a disease that is carried by one in three people in the world and that is particularly difficult to treat with today’s antibiotics. Continue reading “New class of antibiotics may lead to therapy for drug-resistant tuberculosis”

Scientists identify gene that may make humans more vulnerable to pulmonary tuberculosis

Researchers from the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) and its collaborators have now identified for the first time a new gene that may confer susceptibility to pulmonary tuberculosis. Their findings, published October 10 in the open access journal PLoS Genetics, reported that a gene named Toll-like receptor 8 (TLR8), previously shown only to recognize some factors from viruses such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), has a probable role in human susceptibility to Mycobacterium tuberculosis infections. The results from the study also found that males are more susceptible than females. Continue reading “Scientists identify gene that may make humans more vulnerable to pulmonary tuberculosis”

Searching For HIV’s Achilles Heel

Why is it so hard to make an HIV vaccine? Dr. John Coffin, who is one of the fathers of modern retrovirology,  Professor of Molecular Biology and Microbiology at Tufts University asks in his insightful blog article, full of humor and historical metaphors. Dr. Coffin proposes that the answer to this question, which has eluded us for the last 25 years, lies in the unusual relationship of this particular virus with its host. He explains variety of ingenious ways HIV is able to evade the immune system and how it has evolved to exploit it for its own benefit.

Despite incredible challenges remaining to find this HIV’s Achilles, Dr. Coffin maintains his optimism for overcoming these: ” Given the obvious need for effective prevention to stem the AIDS pandemic, we must keep trying. Unfortunately, HIV has evolved into a niche whose very properties seem designed to thwart our attempts to turn the immune system against it. As an article of faith, we must believe that there is an Achilles’ heel in the virus’s sugary armor that we can exploit, but we haven’t found it yet.”

Read this excellent article at Small Things considered: the microbe blog.

Tuberculosis drug shows promise against latent bacteria

A new study has shown that an investigational drug (R207910, currently in clinical trials against multi-drug resistant tuberculosis strains) is quite effective at killing latent bacteria. This revelation suggests that R207910 may lead to improved and shortened treatments for this globally prevalent disease.
Continue reading “Tuberculosis drug shows promise against latent bacteria”

Cranberry juice creates energy barrier that keeps bacteria away from cells

For generations, people have consumed cranberry juice, convinced of its power to ward off urinary tract infections, though the exact mechanism of its action has not been well understood. A new study by researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) reveals that the juice changes the thermodynamic properties of bacteria in the urinary tract, creating an energy barrier that prevents the microorganisms from getting close enough to latch onto cells and initiate an infection.
Continue reading “Cranberry juice creates energy barrier that keeps bacteria away from cells”

Scientists resurrected 1918 flu antibodies from elderly survivors

Ninety years after the sweeping destruction of the 1918 flu pandemic, researchers at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt have recovered antibodies to the virus – from elderly survivors of the original outbreak.

In addition to revealing the surprisingly long-lasting immunity to such viruses, these antibodies could be effective treatments to have on hand if another virus similar to the 1918 flu breaks out in the future.
Continue reading “Scientists resurrected 1918 flu antibodies from elderly survivors”