Tag Archives | Bacteria

TB Bacteria May Have Once Helped Break Down Nutrients Needed For Bigger Brains

Sputum sample containing Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Sputum sample containing Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Talk about unforeseen consequences: A group of scientists think that tuberculosis started out as a symbiotic bacteria that extracted food nutrients  needed to grow bigger, more powerful brains. Scientific American has an article on the study, but it’s behind a pay wall. I’ve just pulled the abstract from the study they cited, and can remember just enough from my neurological psychology classes to sort of piece it together. Interesting stuff. (Note: The paragraph breaks are my own. I have trouble absorbing information what I read when it’s presented in a giant block of text.)

Meat eating has been an important trigger for human evolution however the responsible component in meat has not been clearly identified. Here we propose that the limiting factors for expanding brains and increasing longevity were the micronutrient nicotinamide (vitamin B3) and the metabolically related essential amino-acid, tryptophan.

Meat offers significant sourcing challenges and lack causes a deficiency of nicotinamide and tryptophan and consequently the energy carrier nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) that gets consumed in regulatory circuits important for survival, resulting in premature ageing, poor cognition and brain atrophy.

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Your Filthy Smartphone Is Crawling With Your Personal Mix Of Staph, Strep, And Other Passengers

240px-Staphylococcus_aureus_01Your smartphone is filthy, and I don’t just mean what’s in your browser’s search history folder. A group of scientists have discovered that our cell phones carry our their owner’s individual devil’s brew of bacteria: A house blend of staph, strep, and other biological goodies.

To test our biological connection with phones, University of Oregon researchers sequenced microbes from the dominant-hand index fingers and thumbs of 17 subjects and from the touchscreens of their smartphones, during a recent Robert Wood Johnson Foundation workshop in Princeton, New Jersey. The study found smartphones closely resembled the microbiome sampled from their owner’s finger, with 82 percent of the most common bacteria on participants’ fingers also found on their phones.

Interestingly, women were found to be more closely connected, microbiologically speaking, to their phones than were men. Although men and women were both statistically similar to their own phones, the relationship was stronger for women than for men.

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CDC Bumble Leaves Workers Exposed to ‘Especially Dangerous’ Strain of Anthrax

Microphotograph of a Gram stain the bacterium Bacillus anthracis which causes anthrax

Microphotograph of a Gram stain the bacterium Bacillus anthracis which causes anthrax

Oh, you know, we were just preparing an especially dangerous strain of the bacteria for use in two lower-security CDC labs, and…

Wait, what?

It is a Friday the 13th Dr Paul Meechan will not soon forget.

On that night last week, bioterrorism researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discovered they had mistakenly sent live anthrax bacteria out to fellow scientists in two lower-security clearance labs at the agency, instead of what they thought were harmless samples of the deadly pathogen.

The initial safety lapse occurred in the CDC’s Bioterror Rapid Response and Advanced Technology laboratory, a high security lab that was trying out a new protocol for inactivating anthrax, using chemicals instead of radiation.

In an interview, the CDC’s Meechan described some of the events that led to the discovery that as many as 75 agency staff had been exposed to live anthrax.

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Best Way To Colonize Planets? Send Our DNA And Print New Humans When It Gets There

PIC: Webridge (CC)

PIC: Webridge (CC)

Sounds far fetched, but we’ve been delivering DNA and “printing” new humans on this planet for a long while. Oh, and to our new future alien friends: I’d return to sender if I were you. This particular batch of Sea Monkeys can get out of hand pretty quickly

Assuming human deep space travel turns out to be not just incredibly dangerous, but perhaps “crazy idiotic” and “laughable,” as Harvard biologist Gary Ruvkun put it, the tenacious dream of an interstellar civilization forces some out-of-the box thinking. What if, instead of rocketing humans to other planets, we made an exact copy on site?

Adam Steltzner, the lead engineer on the NASA JPL’s Curiosity rover mission, believes that to send humans to distant planets, we may need to do one of two things: look for ways to game space-time—traveling through wormholes and whatnot—or rethink the fundamental idea of “ourselves.”

“Our best bet for space exploration could be printing humans, organically, on another planet,” said Steltzner on stage at Smithsonian Magazine’s Future Is Now conference in Washington, DC this month.

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No-Soap, No-Shampoo, Bacteria-Rich Hygiene Experiment

PIC: AOBIOME (C)

PIC: AOBIOME (C)

Read what happens when one NYT reporter stops using soap and starts using an experimental body spray full of concentrated bacteria instead.  While the results are intriguing, I’m far too fond of showers to give them up.

For most of my life, if I’ve thought at all about the bacteria living on my skin, it has been while trying to scrub them away. But recently I spent four weeks rubbing them in. I was Subject 26 in testing a living bacterial skin tonic, developed by AOBiome, a biotech start-up in Cambridge, Mass. The tonic looks, feels and tastes like water, but each spray bottle of AO+ Refreshing Cosmetic Mist contains billions of cultivated Nitrosomonas eutropha, an ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) that is most commonly found in dirt and untreated water. AOBiome scientists hypothesize that it once lived happily on us too — before we started washing it away with soap and shampoo — acting as a built-in cleanser, deodorant, anti-inflammatory and immune booster by feeding on the ammonia in our sweat and converting it into nitrite and nitric oxide.

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Fecal (Poo) Transplants on the Rise

Digestive system diagram enWe’ve covered what Mosaic calls “Medicine’s dirty secret” before, but the idea of using someone else’s feces to cure an ailment is apparently growing fast, including instructions for trying it at home:

This is how far a mother will go.

Your daughter has been sick for more than four years with a severe autoimmune disease that has left her colon raw with bloody ulcers. After multiple doctors and drugs have failed, you are frantic for her to get better. Then you send her disease into remission, virtually overnight, with a single act of love. “Who wouldn’t do that for their daughter?” you say. It’s like a miracle, you say. “An overnight magic wand.”

You’ve agreed to do it again – twice – for strangers. You’ve seen first-hand how effective it can be and you felt so badly for the patients and their families. Had you donated blood or plasma, no one would blink.

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Poison-Breathing Bacteria May Be Boon to Industry, Environment

Pic: Cir_Flickr (CC)

Pic: Cir_Flickr (CC)

Interesting that they list industry first, seeing as how economic activity depends on the environment.  Via ScienceDaily:

Buried deep in the mud along the banks of a remote salt lake near Yosemite National Park are colonies of bacteria with an unusual property: they breathe a toxic metal to survive. Researchers from the University of Georgia discovered the bacteria on a recent field expedition to Mono Lake in California, and their experiments with this unusual organism show that it may one day become a useful tool for industry and environmental protection.

The bacteria use elements that are notoriously poisonous to humans, such as antimony and arsenic, in place of oxygen, an ability that lets them survive buried in the mud of a hot spring in this unique saline soda basin.

“Just like humans breathe oxygen, these bacteria respire poisonous elements to survive,” said Chris Abin, author of a paper describing the research published recently in the journal Environmental Science & Technology and a doctoral candidate in microbiology.

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Peter Gorman Was Infected With Flesh Eating Bacteria In The Amazon

1002190_10151833672538659_352508625_nPeter Gorman, one of the men largely responsible for bringing awareness of ayahuasca to the western world and the author of the truly remarkable book Ayahuasca In My Blood could use some serious help.

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-peter-gorman-please

Peter is a noted and award-winning journalist and adventurer – also a damn good friend, father, brother, guide and simply all-around one of the good guys, and there ain’t many good guys left.

For nearly 30 years Peter has been working with Ayahuasca, and in Peru in the deep jungle — he is a living legend.

Let’s keep it that way

This recent trip the jungle sunk its teeth in really, seriously deep and Peter picked up three different staph infections – a flesh eating bacteria – that tore into him and threatened to eat his leg away below the knee.

As I write this, his leg has been saved – however, he’s not out of the woods yet.

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Strain of Deadly ‘Flesh-Eating’ MRSA Bacteria Originally Came from Cattle

roflbotMuch like HIV made the leap from non-human primates to us, a strain of the antibacterial-resistant pathogen MRSA seems to have originated with cattle:

Via Eurekalert:

A strain of bacteria that causes skin and soft tissue infections in humans originally came from cattle, according to a study to be published in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. The researchers who conducted the genetic analysis of strains of Staphylococcus aureus known as CC97 say these strains developed resistance to methicillin after they crossed over into humans around forty years ago. Today, methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) strain CC97 is an emerging human pathogen in Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia. The findings highlight the potential for cows to serve as a reservoir for bacteria with the capacity for pandemic spread in humans.

The researchers sequenced the genomes of 43 different CC97 isolates from humans, cattle, and other animals, and plotted their genetic relationships in a phylogenetic tree.

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U.K. Experts Warn Of Possible Antibiotic Apocalypse

Is Rise of the Bacteria a legit doomsday possibility? Via the BBC:

The rise in drug resistant infections is comparable to the threat of global warming, according to the chief medical officer for England. She told a committee of MPs that bacteria were becoming resistant to current drugs and there were few antibiotics to replace them. Going for a routine operation could become deadly due to the threat of infection.

Antibiotics have been one of the greatest success stories in medicine. However, bacteria are a rapidly adapting…MRSA is one of the most feared words in hospitals wards and there are growing reports of resistance in strains of E. coli, tuberculosis and gonorrhea.

The World Health Organization has warned the world is heading for a “post-antibiotic era” unless action is taken. It paints a future in which “many common infections will no longer have a cure and, once again, kill unabated”.

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