Monday, 31 December 2018

New approach to fighting antibiotic resistant bacteria

One of the most pressing concerns on the planet is the issue of multi-drug resistance bacteria and the risk these organisms pose to human health. One of the ways to address this could stem from a new research project.

The project is being undertaken at the University of Houston, where two researchers secured a $3.5 million grant (over a five-year period) to build novel technologies to ascertain which are the best chemical combinations to kill the most resistant bacteria, in the form of antibiotics. The grant comes from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Antimicrobial resistance is about the ability of a microorganism to resist the action of antimicrobial drugs. The phrase multi-drug resistance is when an organism is resistant to one or more chemicals. While this state of resistance can occur in nature, the major threat to human health arises with known human pathogens acquiring resistance, a more common method is through gene transfer. Here, genes causing resistance can be transferred between different strains of microorganism. Where this occurs in the healthcare setting, where patients are more vulnerable, concerns arise.
In recent decades the proportion of organisms becoming multi-drug resistance has increased. Much of this arises from the mis-prescribing of antibiotics.
Commenting on the new research project, lead researcher Professor Vincent Tam explains: “People are dying, there’s no question about that. And it’s because bacteria - time and again - have come up with ways to fight back against the antibiotics we are throwing at them and survive.”
The microbiologist adds: “In the war of people versus bacteria, bacteria are winning.” To combat this Professor Tam explains, combining antibiotics is a common practice. However, the complication arises from selecting the correct combination.
What is needed is a faster and more robust process to ensure that the correct chemical combinations are selected. This is the basis of the new research. For this the researchers are collaborating with the commercial company BacterioScan.
The intention is to build a rapid diagnostic device that is capable of testing bacterial responses to various drug combinations. The aim is for a medical professional to place bacterial samples into the device. The device will then assess bacterial growth in the presence of different antibiotics. The data will be captured digitally and analysed, with the clinician provided with the optimal antibiotic combination.
Testing will begin with a selection of hospital pathogens, including Pseudomonas aeruginosaAcinetobacter baumannii; and Klebsiella pneumoniae. The aim is to pinpoint the different structural classes of antibiotics which will be effective against the organisms at different sites.

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Breast milk & babies' saliva shape oral microbiome

A study led by Dr Emma Sweeney and Adjunct Associate Professor Christine Knox, from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, with colleagues at the University of Queensland, showed that the growth of some microbes was inhibited for up to 24 hours following breastmilk and saliva mixing.

Dr Sweeney said the team's earlier studies had found significant differences in the prevalence of key bacteria within the mouths of breastfed and formula-fed babies and that breastmilk and saliva interactions boost innate immunity by acting in synergy to regulate the oral microbiome of newborn babies.

"Our findings suggest that breastmilk is more than a simple source of nutrition for babies because it plays an important role in shaping a healthy oral microbiome," Dr Sweeney said.

"Our previous research found that the interaction of neonatal saliva and breast milk releases antibacterial compounds, including hydrogen peroxide.

"Breastmilk is high in an enzyme called xanthine oxidase which acts on two substrates, found in babies' saliva.

"The release of hydrogen peroxide from this interaction also activates the 'lactoperoxidase system' which produces additional compounds that also have antibacterial activity, and these compounds are capable of regulating the growth of microorganisms.

"In this study, we exposed a variety of microorganisms to breastmilk and saliva mixtures, and found that the growth of these microorganisms was inhibited, immediately and for up to 24 hours, irrespective of whether the microorganism was considered to be 'pathogenic' (harmful) or 'commensal' (normally found) in an infant's mouth."

Dr Sweeney said the composition of newborns' mouth microbiota was an important factor in health and wellbeing.

"Changes to these bacterial communities in newborns have important implications for infection or disease early in life," she said.

"While adult oral microbiota are stable, our studies have shown that the microbiota in the mouths of newborns is much more dynamic and seems to be altered by the mode of feeding within the first few months of life," she said.

"The combination of breastmilk and saliva has been shown to play an important role in shaping the healthy oral microbiota during the first few months of life, but this also has significant implications for premature or sick babies who are fed via a tube.

"In these cases, the mixing of breastmilk and babies' saliva does not occur and so they do not receive the benefits of the antibacterial compounds released during breastfeeding.

"Other researchers have shown that hydrogen peroxide can remain active at pH levels similar to that of a baby's stomach, so we think that this antimicrobial activity seen in the mouth may also continue within the baby's stomach and intestines.


E. L. Sweeney, S. S. Al-Shehri, D. M. Cowley, H. G. Liley, N. Bansal, B. G. Charles, P. N. Shaw, J. A. Duley, C. L. Knox. The effect of breastmilk and saliva combinations on the in vitro growth of oral pathogenic and commensal microorganisms. Scientific Reports, 2018; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-33519-3

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Researchers closer to gonorrhea vaccine

In a study of proteins historic in its scope, researchers at Oregon State University have pushed closer both to a vaccine for gonorrhea and toward understanding why the bacteria that cause the disease are so good at fending off antimicrobial drugs.

The findings, published in Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, are especially important since the microbe, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, is considered a "superbug" because of its resistance to all classes of antibiotics available for treating infections.

Gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease that results in 78 million new cases worldwide each year, is highly damaging if untreated or improperly treated.

It can lead to endometritis, pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, epididymitis and infertility.

Babies born to infected mothers are at increased risk of blindness. Up to 50 percent of infected women don't show any symptoms, but those asymptomatic cases can still lead to severe consequences for the patient's reproductive health, miscarriage or premature delivery.

Aleksandra Sikora, a researcher with the OSU College of Pharmacy and OHSU's Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, helped lead an international collaboration that performed proteomic profiling on 15 gonococcal strains; proteome refers to all of the proteins any given organism produces.

Among the isolates in the study were the reference strains maintained by the World Health Organization that show all known profiles of gonococcal antimicrobial resistance.

For each strain, researchers divided the proteins into those found on the cell envelope and those in the cytoplasm. More than 1,600 proteins -- 904 from the cell envelopes and 723 from the cytoplasm -- were found to be common among the strains, and from those, nine new potential vaccine candidates were identified.

A vaccine works by introducing an "invader" protein known as an antigen that triggers the body's immune system and subsequently helps it quickly recognize and attack the organism that produced the antigen.

Researchers also found six new proteins that were distinctively expressed in all of the strains, suggesting they're markers for or play roles in drug resistance and thus might be effective targets for new antimicrobials.

In addition, scientists looked at the connection between bacterial phenotype -- the microbes' observable characteristics and behavior -- and the resistance signatures that studying the proteins revealed; they found seven matching phenotype clusters between already-known signatures and the ones uncovered by proteomic analysis.


Fadi E El-Rami, Ryszard A. Zielke, Teodora Wi, Aleksandra E Sikora, Magnus Unemo. Quantitative proteomics of the 2016 WHO Neisseria gonorrhoeae reference strains surveys vaccine candidates and antimicrobial resistance determinants. Molecular & Cellular Proteomics, 2018; mcp.RA118.001125 DOI: 10.1074/mcp.RA118.001125

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology

Friday, 28 December 2018

The field of Microbiology and its Research Specialties

Microbiology is now an advanced scientific field, focusing on the study of various microscopic organisms like fungus, bacteria, virus, etc. Microbiology is used largely for research and diagnostic lab studies, which covers all aspects of microorganisms like the evolution, ecology, behavior, physiology, and biochemistry alongside the pathology of various diseases caused by these organisms.

A guest post by Anthony Karen

The primitive form of today’s advanced microscopes was developed during the 17th century, from where microbiology evolved as a specialty. It was Anton von Leeuwenhoek who first published observations about bacteria. Microbiology also disproved a long-existed theory called ‘spontaneous generation.’ The belief was that all living things evolved spontaneously from a combination of various organic and inorganic ingredients. For example, people once believed that the mice evolve from soiled cloth in combination with wheat.

Further, the 20th century witnessed a huge advancement in microbiology, when antibiotics and vaccines were invented, and the man started using chemotherapeutic agents in the treatment of bacterial diseases. Later, DNA was found to be the primary genetic element of cell formation, which further paved way to exploring the genomes of various microorganisms.

Different microbiology branches

  • Bacteriology – it is the study of different types of bacteria. 
  • Immunology – Study of immune systems of living organisms. It has a close relation with the pathology of viruses and bacteria as well as their hosts. 
  • Mycology – Study of fungus-like mold or yeast. 
  • Nematology – Branch of the study of nematodes or roundworms. 
  • Phycology – Study of algae. 
  • Parasitology – Parasites as the name suggest. However, all types of parasites are not microorganisms. Bacteriology covers the study of bacterial parasites. 
  • Protozoology – Study of single-celled organisms (amoebae etc.) 
  • Virology – Study of the virus. 
Microbiology research

Likely to any other field of science, microbiology research can also be divided into a couple of categories. The primary variations are pure microbiology and applied microbiology. The objective of basic research is to understand the core of a scientific phenomenon whereas applied microbiology focuses on the specialist information derived from basic research and use it to find answers for specific questions and resolve problems.

Pure research specialties are:
  • Evolutionary microbiology – Study about the evolution of various microorganisms. 
  • Cellular microbiology - Study of microbial cell structure and functions. 
  • Astro-microbiology - Study of life on earth and its origin and also extraterrestrial life if any. 
  • Systems microbiology – Computational (mathematical) modeling of the microbiological systems and activities. 
Other pure microbiology research specialties also include but not limited to microbial ecology, microbial physiology, and microbial genetics, etc.

Applied microbiology research specialties include:
  • Medical microbiology – Role of microorganisms in human diseases.
  • Food Microbiology - Study of microbial activities in spoiling and preserving food items. It also studies the food-borne illnesses. It is used in food production effectively as fermentation of beer etc. 
  • Agricultural microbiology – Interaction of microorganisms with corps, plants, and soil. 
  • Microbial biotechnology – Usage of microbes in consumer production and industrial purposes. 
  • Pharmaceutical microbiology - Microorganisms in pharmaceutical products like antibiotics, vaccines, and other therapeutic products. 
Microbiology is a consistently growing scientific specialty, which is mighty enough to unveil many more hidden secrets about life on Earth, other planets, and also to better control diseases and contribute towards better living conditions.

Author Bio: Anthony Karen is a health expert who has been running many health seminars and public discussions. She also manages her blog and reviews the health-related details provided by authentic sources.

Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Broad genome analysis shows yeasts evolving by subtraction

An unprecedented comparison of hundreds of species of yeasts has helped geneticists brew up an expansive picture of their evolution over the last hundreds of millions of years, including an analysis of the way they evolved individual appetites for particular food sources that may be a boon to biofuels research.
A team of researchers led by labs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Vanderbilt University sequenced and compared the genomes of 332 species of budding yeasts, all members of a subphylum of yeasts that multiply by producing daughter cells from buds on their surface. More than 200 of the yeast types had their genomes catalogued for the first time for the study, which was published today (Nov. 8, 2018) by the journal Cell.

Even in an era of big-data comparisons of DNA -- when studies often involve analyzing the genes of many people or many fruit flies at a time -- the yeast study is a step into new territory.


Xing-Xing Shen, Dana A. Opulente, Jacek Kominek, Xiaofan Zhou, Jacob L. Steenwyk, Kelly V. Buh, Max A.B. Haase, Jennifer H. Wisecaver, Mingshuang Wang, Drew T. Doering, James T. Boudouris, Rachel M. Schneider, Quinn K. Langdon, Moriya Ohkuma, Rikiya Endoh, Masako Takashima, Ri-ichiroh Manabe, Neža Čadež, Diego Libkind, Carlos A. Rosa, Jeremy DeVirgilio, Amanda Beth Hulfachor, Marizeth Groenewald, Cletus P. Kurtzman, Chris Todd Hittinger, Antonis Rokas. Tempo and Mode of Genome Evolution in the Budding Yeast Subphylum. Cell, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.10.023

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

All infectious diseases are seasonal

Most of us are aware of the seasonal cycle of influenza outbreaks, which for Americans peak in the winter. In a new paper, Micaela Martinez, PhD, a scientist at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, makes a case that all infectious diseases have a seasonal element. The "Pearl" article appears in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

Martinez collected information from the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and peer-reviewed publications to create a calendar of epidemics for 69 infectious diseases, from commonplace infections to rare tropical diseases. A given year will see outbreaks of flu in the winter, chickenpox in the spring, and gonorrhea and polio in the summer -- to name a few of the best described seasonal outbreaks.

She found seasonality occurs not just in acute infectious diseases like flu but also chronic infectious diseases like Hepatitis B, which depending on geography, flares up with greater regularity certain times of the year. Preliminary work has shown that even HIV-AIDS has a seasonal element, thought to be driven by seasonal changes in malnutrition in agricultural settings.

The paper describes four main drivers of seasonality in infectious diseases. Environmental factors like temperature and humidity regulate seasonal flu; in vector-borne diseases like Zika too, the environment plays a role in the proliferation of mosquitos. Host behaviors such as children coming into close proximity with each other during the school year are a factor in measles. Ecological factors such as algae play a role the outbreak of cholera. Seasonal biological rhythms, similar to those that govern migration and hibernation in animals, may also be a factor in diseases like polio, although more research is needed.


Micaela Elvira Martinez. The calendar of epidemics: Seasonal cycles of infectious diseases. PLOS Pathogens, 2018; 14 (11): e1007327 DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1007327

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Good pour plate practices

The Microbiologics blog has a useful back-to-basics article on good pour plate practices. Included in the article is the following advice:

1. Keep the molten agar in the water bath for no more than three to four hours. Don’t pour the agar until it has cooled to <50°C (preferably 44°C to 46°C).
2. Don’t re-melt the agar. Agar should only be melted one time.
3. Use phosphate buffer pH 7.2 if necessary to dilute the suspension.
4. Decrease the risk of contamination by pouring plates in a laminar-airflow cabinet. When pouring multiple plates, flame the mouth of the flask before moving on to the next plate to reduce the risk of contamination.
5. Fill plates according regulators’ recommendations. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Bacteriological Analytical Manual (BAM) recommends filling plates with 12 ml to 15 ml of agar. The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) recommends a fill of 15 ml to 20 ml of agar.
6. Some microorganism species, such as obligate aerobes, may recover better on spread plates than pour plates. When growing these strains, it is recommended to verify counts with a spread plate.
7. Incubate most bacterial species for 48 to 72 hours. Note: Incubate Candida albicans and Aspergillus brasiliensis for three to five days.

8. Count small microorganism colonies, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, with the aid of an illuminated colony counter or magnifying glass.

9. Keep in mind recovery will be lower on selective agar. If selective agar is used, test non-selective agar in parallel using the same microorganism suspension. A higher CFU concentration for the selective agar may be necessary.
10. Don’t be surprised if the value obtained when performing tests differs from the mean assay value. Note: Microbiologics uses non-selective Tryptic Soy Agar when testing most microorganisms.

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology

Monday, 24 December 2018

Happy holidays!

I'd like to wish all readers of Pharmaceutical Microbiology all the best wishes for the holiday season and thank you for supporting this website.

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Salmonella found to be resistant to different classes of antibiotics

Brazil's Ministry of Health received reports of 11,524 outbreaks of foodborne diseases between 2000 and 2015, with 219,909 individuals falling sick and 167 dying from the diseases in question. Bacteria caused most outbreaks of such illnesses, including diarrhea and gastroenteritis. The most frequent were Salmonella spp., with 31,700 cases diagnosed in the period (14.4% of the total), Staphylococcus aureus (7.4%), and Escherichia coli (6.1%).
According to a survey by the Ministry of Social Development, bacteria of the genus Salmonella were the etiological agents in 42.5% of the laboratory-confirmed foodborne disease outbreaks reported in Brazil between 1999 and 2009.
Whole-genome sequencing of the main bacteria that cause acute diarrhea is the research focus for a group at the University of São Paulo led by Juliana Pfrimer Falcão, a professor at the university's Ribeirão Preto School of Pharmaceutical Sciences (FCFRP-USP).
In an article published in PLOS ONE, biomedical scientists Amanda Aparecida Seribelli and Fernanda Almeida, who belong to Falcão's lab, describe how they sequenced and investigated the genomes of 90 strains of a specific serovar of Salmonella entericaknown as S. Typhimurium (an abbreviation of Salmonella entericasubspecies serovar Typhimurium).
The 90 strains were isolated between 1983 and 2013 at Adolfo Lutz Institute in Ribeirão Preto (São Paulo State, Brazil) and Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) in Rio de Janeiro. They provide a portrait of the epidemiology of salmonellosis in Brazil in the last 30 years, coming from all regions of the country and having been collected from patients with foodborne infections or from contaminated food such as poultry, pork, or lettuce and other vegetables.


Saturday, 22 December 2018

Ph. Eur. feedback on general chapter covering depyrogenation in parenteral preparations

The European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur.) has launched a public consultation on its new general chapter 5.1.12 on depyrogenation of items used in the production of parenteral preparations. While depyrogenation is not a new topic for the Ph. Eur., this is the first time that a dedicated chapter covers specifically the inactivation of pyrogens and related endotoxin indicators. Pyrogens are substances that can induce fever when infused or injected and must be removed from materials that come into direct contact with final sterilised products, such as primary packaging and equipment.
In this new general chapter, different types of available endotoxin indicators are described (for instance, ready to use or custom made) and “depyrogenation” is defined in terms of a reduction in lipopolysaccharides (LPSs), the most potent and difficult to eliminate of all pyrogenic substances. All depyrogenation processes should be validated by adding endotoxin indicators to the load in those positions identified as the most difficult to depyrogenate. Endotoxin indicators should be suitable to the material to be depyrogenated (glass, stainless steel, plastic) and depyrogenation can be carried out through dry heat treatment, as well as other treatments, like physical and chemical procedures, when heat treatment is not possible.

Users and parties concerned can submit their comments on the Issue 30.4 of Pharmeuropa until 31 December 2018.

See Pharmeurpoa -

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology

Friday, 21 December 2018

Superbugs could kill millions by 2050

Antibiotics resistance among bacteria (superbugs) is a large and growing problem, with huge health and economic consequences in the US and around the world. According to a new report issued by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development(OECD) millions of people worldwide will die from superbug infections unless countries prioritize fighting the growing threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Currently, around 29,500 people die annually in the USA due to infections to superbugs. According to new research, drug-resistant bacteria killed more than 33,000 people in Europe in 2015. In the report, the OECD said 2.4 million people could die from superbugs by 2050, about 1 million of them n the USA.

The economic toll from superbugs could be vast, reaching $65 billion by 2050, according to the report. If the report’s projections are correct, resistance to backup antibiotics will be 70% higher in 2030 than it was in 2005 in OECD countries.

In September2018, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest public health challenges of our time, it alerted to the danger of antibiotic resistance, stating that each year in the U.S., at least 2 million people get an antibiotic-resistant infection, and at least 23,000 people die. In the USA antibiotic-resistant bacterium has increased from 20% in 2005 to 23% in 2015 and could hit 25% by 2030.

According to the OECD report estimates, the growth of infections due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria will be 7-10 times faster by 2030 than currently. The report predicts that resistance 2nd- and 3rd-line antibiotics will balloon by 70% by 2030.

Global crisisThe antibiotic resistance crisis is predicted to grow faster in southern Europe, including Italy, Greece, and Portugal.
Low- and middle-income countries, such as Brazil, Indonesia, and Russia, will also be hit hard, according to OECD projections. The average resistance in Turkey, Korea, and Greece is ~ 35%. This is 7 times higher than in Iceland, the Netherlands, and Norway.

In Brazil, Indonesia and Russia, between 40% and 60% of infections are already antibiotic-resistant, compared to an average of 17% in OECD countries. In these countries, the growth of antimicrobial resistance rates is forecast to be 4 to 7 times higher than in OECD countries between now and 2050.

Suggested Approaches to attack the problemThe OECD report suggests that ¾ of the death could be prevented by emphasizing the followings:

  • Better hand washing and better hygiene among health-care workers.
  • Another key element of prevention is a more prudent prescription of antibiotics and ending over-prescription of antibiotics.
  • Test patients more quickly to determine if patients have viral or bacterial infections.
  • Delaying antibiotic prescriptions by three days, so that viral infection can take its course is also an option.
  • Finally, creating more public awareness campaigns.

Michele Cecchini, senior health economist, and policy analyst at the OECD’S health division said that “A more prudent prescription of antibiotics is needed. A package combining stewardship programs enhanced environmental hygiene, mass media campaigns, and rapid diagnostic testing would cost to the U.S. a total of $4.93 per capita per year. This package would avert 20,000 deaths and save $2.8 billion per year in the U.S.”

Taking these measures “Would decrease the burden of antimicrobial resistance in these countries by 75%,” said Cecchini. “It would pay for itself in a few months and would produce substantial savings.”

Source: Bioexpert

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology

Thursday, 20 December 2018

ACC Horseshoe Crab Sustainability Project

Associates of Cape Cod, Inc. (ACC ), is pleased to announce an exciting new initiative aimed at complementing our 45 year history of horseshoe crab conservation. ACC introduces a Horseshoe Crab Sustainability Project that will help ensure a stable supply of horseshoe crabs now and for future generations to come. Working with local regulators and having received a class 1 type 4 aquaculture permit and utilizing a patent pending process, ACC collects HSC eggs, fertilizes, grows and strategically releases horseshoe crabs back into their natural environment. This program only utilizes eggs collected from bait crabs that are sacrificed for the eel, conch and whelk fisheries, extending their genetic legacy for generations to come.

See the video below:

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Groundbreaking Studies on Deadly Infectious Disease

Mucormycosis is a drug-resistant fungal infection that attacks patients with weakened immune systems and those who have suffered significant trauma. The infection can be easily missed by physicians because it is so rare and reliable diagnostic assay is lacking. Even when correctly diagnosed, it is often far too late and after the infection has spreads rapidly to vital organs, making most therapies ineffective. The mortality rate for those infected with mucormycosis is around 50%, according to the U.S. centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A pair of recent studies led by LA BioMed researchers published in leading peer-reviewed research journals show that simple diagnostic systems can detect mucormycosis earlier in patients and that the biological makeup of the fungus could open the door for the development of effective therapies.

The first study, PCR-based approach targeting Mucorales specific gene family for the diagnosis of mucormycosis, was published in the August edition of the Journal of Microbiology. Researchers found that mucormycosis can be identified within 24 hours post infection by targeting specific gene family, CotH, in blood and urine tests. The breakthrough shows that mucormycosis can be diagnosed earlier with simple techniques - if physicians know what to look for.

“It’s giving us hope that we can develop a simple diagnostic system to tell clinicians a patient has mucormycosis early on,” said LA BioMed researcher Ashraf Ibrahim, Ph.D. “Right now, we don’t have simple, rapid diagnostic tools and clinicians are often left guessing. If a therapy can be applied early on in the infection, it will dramatically increase that chance of survival.”

The second study, Iron restriction inside macrophages regulates pulmonary host defense against Rhizopus species was published in the August edition of Nature Communications. Reserachers found that the organisms that cause Mucormycosis escape treatment by going into white blood cells and staying dormant. Once treatment stops, they come back and kill the blood cells and infect the organs again. The groundbreaking discovery may lead the way to effective therapies to stop mucormycosis from spreading.

“These studies are significant breakthroughs that serve as the first step into developing a weapon to fight against a deadly disease,” said David Meyer, Ph.D, president and chief executive officer of LA BioMed. “The talented and dedicated researchers at LA BioMed are once again paving the way in discovering pathways to new scientific and medical achievements.”

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

FDA’s new steps to modernize drug development

The FDA continues to advance new policies, modernize our programs and advance opportunities for developing more targeted therapies. Using new technology platforms such as cell and gene therapies and small molecule drugs that target the genomic basis of disease, there are more opportunities to intervene in the underlying mechanisms that cause a disease, and potentially arrest and even reverse its progress. Our efforts are aimed at making sure that our regulatory framework is adapted to these challenges and opportunities, allows for the efficient development of these innovations and the robust demonstration of their safety and efficacy. Our comprehensive efforts are aimed at improving every stage of drug development. We’re focused on making the process of generating pre-clinical and clinical evidence required for making risk-based regulatory decisions more modern, more scientifically rigorous, and more efficient.

The scientific opportunities we’re seeing today demand that we make sure our policies are as sophisticated as the treatments that are being developed. As the nature of drug discovery and development has become more focused on basic mechanisms of disease, targeted at specific genetic or molecular dysfunctions, science is bringing forward more novel opportunities to meaningfully address human disease.

In response, we’re developing technology- and disease-specific regulatory frameworks for innovations that may not have previously had a clear development pathway. We also want to ensure that the development processes are efficient enough to support multiple therapeutic options, not just first-in-class innovations. We need to facilitate second-and-third-to-market innovation as a way to promote more competition within drug classes. This competition can offer important therapeutic differentiation along with opportunities for price competition that can lower costs and broaden patient access.

For further details, see FDA -

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology

Monday, 17 December 2018

How malaria infection activates natural killer cells

Malaria-infected red blood cells trigger the immune system's first line of defense by releasing small vesicles that activate a pathogen recognition receptor called MDA5, according to a study published October 4 in the open-access journal PLOS Pathogens by Peter Preiser of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and Jianzhu Chen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and colleagues.

Malaria is a major public health concern caused by parasitic microorganisms that belong to the genus Plasmodium. A better understanding of early host response and the determinants of immunity are essential to developing innovative therapeutic approaches. Natural killer cells are important immune cells that provide the first line of defense against malaria infection but show significant differences in their responses in the human population. The molecular mechanisms through which natural killer cells are activated by parasites are largely unknown, and so is the molecular basis underlying the variation in natural killer cell responses to malaria infection in the human population. To address this gap in knowledge, Preiser, Chen and colleagues analyzed transcriptional differences between human natural killer cells that respond and don't respond to malaria infection.

Natural killer cells that responded to Plasmodium-infected red blood cells had higher levels of MDA5, which was activated by small vesicles released from the infected cells. Treatment with a small molecule that activated MAD5 restored the ability of non-responder natural killer cells to clear infected red blood cells. The findings suggest that MDA5 could contribute to variation in natural killer cell responses to malaria infection in the human population. Moreover, the study provides new insights into a mechanism by which natural killer cells are activated by parasites and reveals a possible molecular target to control malaria infection in humans.


Weijian Ye, Marvin Chew, Jue Hou, Fritz Lai, Stije J. Leopold, Hooi Linn Loo, Aniruddha Ghose, Ashok K. Dutta, Qingfeng Chen, Eng Eong Ooi, Nicholas J. White, Arjen M. Dondorp, Peter Preiser, Jianzhu Chen. Microvesicles from malaria-infected red blood cells activate natural killer cells via MDA5 pathway. PLOS Pathogens, 2018; 14 (10): e1007298 DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1007298

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Using oxygen to kill pathogenic bacteria

Scientists have turned to an unusual source in order to tackle the problem of pathogenic bacteria – oxygen. This is in relation to MRSA, which is associated with hospital derive infections, in particular.

The scientists have reported their research findings to the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, which took place in mid-August 2018. The meeting attracted around estimated 13,000 chemists, chemical engineers, academicians, graduate and undergraduate students, and other related professionals.

The new method makes use of light to activate oxygen. This leads to the death of bacteria, including the means to destroy antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The research is focused on the inactivation of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

MRSA is responsible for several difficult-to-treat infections in humans. MRSA infections mainly affect people who are staying in hospital. Infections can be serious. Treatment is through antibiotics, but there is a growing concern that some types of pathogenic bacteria are increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

Commenting on the research to, lead researcher Professor Peng Zhang, from the University of Cincinnati, said: “Instead of resorting to antibiotics, which no longer work against some bacteria like MRSA, we use photosensitizers, mostly dye molecules, that become excited when illuminated with light.”

Photodynamic inactivation of bacteria is considered as one of the promising approaches to overcome the problem of drug resistance. The process utilizes a photosensitizer, oxygen, and light of appropriate wavelength.

With the method, the photosensitizers (a molecule that produces a chemical change in another molecule in a photochemical process) convert oxygen into reactive oxygen species that attack the bacteria. Reactive oxygen species can trigger significant damage to cell structures. This process was improved by the researchers through the inclusion of metal nanoparticles, which promote the generation of more reactive oxygen species and direct the process of cell killing to specific sites on the bacterial cell wall. The application of red light further boosts the efficiency of the kill process.

There is also a potential future application with the technology in terms of treating cancer by oxidizing cancerous cells. The technology is being developed in both gel and spray form.
Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology

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