Thursday, 13 May 2021

Will your future clothes be made of algae?


Living materials, which are made by housing biological cells within a non-living matrix, have gained popularity in recent years as scientists recognize that often the most robust materials are those that mimic nature.


An international team of researchers from the University of Rochester and Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands used 3D printers and a novel bioprinting technique to print algae into living, photosynthetic materials that are tough and resilient. The material has a variety of applications in the energy, medical, and fashion sectors.


To create the photosynthetic materials, the researchers began with a non-living bacterial cellulose -- an organic compound that is produced and excreted by bacteria. Bacterial cellulose has many unique mechanical properties, including its flexibility, toughness, strength, and ability to retain its shape, even when twisted, crushed, or otherwise physically distorted.


The bacterial cellulose is like the paper in a printer, while living microalgae acts as the ink. The researchers used a 3D printer to deposit living algae onto the bacterial cellulose.


The combination of living (microalgae) and nonliving (bacterial cellulose) components resulted in a unique material that has the photosynthetic quality of the algae and the robustness of the bacterial cellulose; the material is tough and resilient while also eco-friendly, biodegradable, and simple and scalable to produce. The plant-like nature of the material means it can use photosynthesis to "feed" itself over periods of many weeks, and it is also able to be regenerated -- a small sample of the material can be grown on-site to make more materials.


The unique characteristics of the material make it an ideal candidate for a variety of applications, including new products such as artificial leaves, photosynthetic skins, or photosynthetic bio-garments.




Srikkanth Balasubramanian, Kui Yu, Anne S. Meyer, Elvin Karana, Marie‐Eve Aubin‐Tam. Bioprinting of Regenerative Photosynthetic Living MaterialsAdvanced Functional Materials, 2021; 2011162 DOI: 10.1002/adfm.202011162


Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

New antibiotic pops bacteria like balloons


Colistin was first described in 1947, and is one of the very few antibiotics that is active against many of the most deadly superbugs, including E. coli, which causes potentially lethal infections of the bloodstream, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii, which frequently infect the lungs of people receiving mechanical ventilation in intensive care units.


Researchers have revealed that colistin punches holes in bacteria, causing them to pop like balloons. The work , which was funded by the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust, also identified a way of making the antibiotic more effective at killing bacteria.



These superbugs have two 'skins', called membranes. Colistin punctures both membranes, killing the bacteria. However, whilst it was known that colistin damaged the outer membrane by targeting a chemical called lipopolysaccharide (LPS), it was unclear how the inner membrane was pierced…until now.




Akshay Sabnis, et al. Colistin kills bacteria by targeting lipopolysaccharide in the cytoplasmic membraneeLife, 2021; 10 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.65836


Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Medical Cannabis as a Pharmaceutical: Microbiological Risk and Quality Control

There is a continuing interest in the established and potential therapeutic properties of medical cannabis. These properties are due to cannabinoids, which are a group of compounds present in cannabis. As this interest continues in medicinal cannabis, the quality of medicinal cannabis needs to be strengthened. This means applying a robust microbiological standard. This also means the same standards applied as they would to any other pharmaceutical preparation.


This article considers the microbiological aspects; a previous article looked at the analytical methods and outcomes in relation to medicinal cannabis manufacturing (and the first article in this series considered medical and pharmaceutical cannabis products in general). 



The reference is:


Sandle, T. (2021): Medical Cannabis as a Pharmaceutical – Part 3: Microbiological Risk and Quality Control, Journal of GxP Compliance, 25 (1):

 Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (

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