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Insect Brains ‘are Source of Antibiotics’ to Fight MRSA

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Cockroaches, far from being a health hazard, could be a rich source of antibiotics.

A study of locust and cockroach brains has found a number of chemicals which can kill bugs like MRSA.

Scientists hope these could become a powerful new weapon to boost the dwindling arsenal of antibiotics used to treat severe bacterial infections.

The research was announced at a meeting of the Society for General Microbiology.

The researchers discovered nine different chemicals in the brains of locusts and cockroaches, which all had anti microbrial properties strong enough to kill 90% of MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) while not harming human cells.

Cockroaches have a reputation for tenacity and for thriving in dirty environments.

Simon Lee from Nottingham University is the author of the study. He said that it is this capacity to live in dirty, infectious conditions that mean insect brains contain these kinds of compounds.

“They must have some sort of defense against micro organisms. We think their nervous system needs to be continuously protected because if the nervous system goes down the insect dies. But they can suffer damage to their peripheral structures without dying,” he told BB News.

He hopes the compounds could go on to be used to treat multi drug resistant infections like E. Coli and MRSA which are becoming increasingly difficult to treat using some of the most powerful antibiotics available to medicine.

“A kill rate of 90% is very very high, and I diluted the substance down so there was only a minute amount there. Conventional antbiotics reduce the number of the bacteria and let your immune system cope with the rest. So to get something with such a high kill rate that is so potent at such a low dose is very promising,” he told BBC News.

The compound would need years of testing for safety and efficacy before any drugs developed from them could go on the market.

Source: BBC NEWS

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Frog Skin may Help Beat Antibiotic Resistance

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Frog skin may be an important source of new antibiotics to treat superbugs say researchers.

The foothill yellow-legged frog is one potential source of antibiotics, say researchers
.So far, more than 100 potential bacteria-killing substances have been identified from more than 6,000 species of frog.

The team at the United Arab Emirates University are now trying to tweak the substances to make them less toxic and suitable for use as human medicines.

The work was presented at the American Chemical Society meeting.

Drug resistant bacteria, such as MRSA, are becoming an increasing problem worldwide.

Yet there is a lack of new treatments in the pipeline.

Among the substances found by the researchers are a compound from a rare American species that shows promise for killing MRSA.

Another fights a drug-resistant infection seen in soldiers returning from Iraq.

The idea of using chemicals from the skin of frogs to kill bacteria, viruses and other disease-causing agents is not a new one.

But it is not a straightforward process to use these chemicals in humans because they are either destroyed in the bloodstream or are toxic to human cells.


After identifying the key chemicals, the researchers have altered their molecular structure to make them less dangerous to human cells while retaining their bacteria-killing properties

They hope their work means some of the substances could be in clinical trials within five years.

They are also investigating how to help the chemicals resist breakdown by the body before they have a chance to act.

Experiments have shown the changes they have made so far do make the antibiotics last longer in the bloodstream.

Study leader Dr Michael Conlon said: “Frog skin is an excellent potential source of such antibiotic agents.

“They’ve been around 300 million years, so they’ve had plenty of time to learn how to defend themselves against disease-causing microbes in the environment.

“Their own environment includes polluted waterways where strong defences against pathogens are a must.”

The work underscored the importance of preserving frog diversity, he added.

“Some frog species, including those that may contain potentially valuable medicinal substances, are in jeopardy worldwide due to loss of habitat, water pollution, and other problems.”

Source: BBC NEWS


Animals Can Harbor MRSA

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Following a Lancet Infectious Diseases report of the spread of a new drug-resistant superbug spreading from south Asia, news agencies have reported “panic” over the germs’ possible consequences. Writing in the Guardian, for example, editor and columnist Sarah Boseley said:

“The era of antibiotics is coming to a close. In just a couple of generations, what once appeared to be miracle medicines have been beaten into ineffectiveness by the bacteria they were designed to knock out.”

The effectiveness of antibiotics depends on how antibiotics are used — how well drug use is managed in clinical practice and outside of it. But some 70 percent of American antibiotics — tens of millions of pounds of drugs each year — is used in animal feed.

The antibiotic-resistant staph strain that kills 19,000 Americans every year.

According to Time Magazine:

“The European Union banned routine use of antibiotics in animal feed years ago because of evidence about its drug-resistance consequences for humans. Now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is recommending the same for the U.S. as well, for the same reason. But for now the practice continues.”

According to Grist:
“MRSA has a major food angle: Today, as much as 70 percent of antibiotics consumed in the United States go into concentrated-animal feedlot operations, or CAFOs, and these vast, factory-scale animal farms have been shown to harbor a novel MRSA strain.”


Grist June 15, 2010

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Good Bacteria Fight the Flu

Bacteria present naturally in your body and sometimes found in food could keep cold and flu viruses at bay.
According to a study, young children who drank a mixture of such bacteria, known as probiotics, had fewer colds, needed fewer antibiotics, and missed fewer days of school.

Researchers have already shown that probiotics can benefit those who are ill, and the bacteria are thought to boost the immune system‘s response to invaders.

ABC News July 27, 2009
Reuters July 27, 2009

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‘Bleach Bath’ Benefit for Eczema

Adding bleach to the bath may be an effective treatment for chronic eczema, US researchers say.
In a study of 31 children, there was significant improvement in eczema in those who had diluted bleach baths compared with normal baths.

The Pediatrics study also showed improvements were only on parts of the body submerged in the bath.

The Pediatrics study also showed improvements were only on parts of the body submerged in the bath.

UK experts stressed the treatment could be extremely dangerous and should only be done under the care of a specialist.

Children with bad eczema suffer from chronic skin infections, most commonly caused by Staphylococcus aureus, which worsen the eczema that can be difficult to treat.

Some children get resistant MRSA infections.

“Bleach used incorrectly could cause enormous harm to a child with atopic eczema while in the hands of an expert it can, as this trial indicates lead to benefit” SAYS  Professor Mike Cork, Sheffield Children’s Hospital

Studies have shown a direct correlation between the number of bacteria on the skin and the severity of the eczema.

It has been shown that bacteria cause inflammation and further weaken the skin barrier.

In the study, researchers randomly assigned patients who had infection with Staphylococcus aureus to baths with half a cup of sodium hypochlorite per full tub or normal water baths for five to 10 minutes twice a week for three months.

They also prescribed a topical antibiotic ointment or dummy ointment for them to put into their nose – a key site for growth of the bacteria.

Eczema severity in patients reduced five times as much as those on placebo.

But there was no improvement in eczema on the head and neck – areas not submerged in the bath.

Rapid improvement :-

“We’ve long struggled with staphylococcal infections in patients with eczema,” said study leader Dr Amy Paller, from Northwestern University in Chicago.

She added they saw such rapid improvement in the children having bleach baths that they stopped the study early.

“The eczema kept getting better and better with the bleach baths and these baths prevented it from flaring again, which is an ongoing problem for these kids.

“We presume the bleach has antibacterial properties and decreased the number of bacteria on the skin, which is one of the drivers of flares.”

Professor Mike Cork, head of dermatology research and a consultant at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, said antiseptic baths had been used as a treatment for eczema for quite a while but the trial was important because it highlights the benefits from reducing bacteria.

“But people should not start putting bleach in their children’s bath.

“Bleach used incorrectly could cause enormous harm to a child with atopic eczema while, in the hands of an expert, it can as this trial indicates lead to benefit.”

He added the trial highlighted the need for children with uncontrolled eczema to be referred to a specialist for treatment.

Sources: BBC News :27th.April.’09

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