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December 28, 2006, 9:42 PM CT

Treatments for urinary infections leave bacteria bald

Treatments for urinary infections leave bacteria bald Bacteria that cause many urinary tract infections are normally coated in fine hairlike structures known as pili.
A different approach to treating urinary tract infections (UTIs) could defeat the bacteria that cause the infections without directly killing them, a strategy that could help slow the growth of antibiotic-resistant infections.

Instead of trying to wipe out bacteria, scientists in the laboratory of Scott Hultgren, Ph.D., the Helen L. Stoever Professor of Molecular Microbiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, have been working to create pharmaceuticals that essentially "defang" the bacteria by preventing them from assembling pili, microscopic hairs that both enable the invasion of host cells and allow the bacteria to mount a cooperative defense against the host's immune system.

"We're leaving the bacteria bald but healthy and happy," says Jerome S. Pinkner, lab manager for Hultgren. "Rather than trying to kill them, we're working to make them non-pathogenic, so that they will be unable to adhere to or invade the bladder tissues and are readily eliminated from the body."

Pinkner and colleagues think the bacteria will find it harder to evolve resistance to a therapy that does not directly impact their survival. As per an April 2006 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases fact sheet, resistance to at least one antibiotic has been detected in more than 70 percent of the bacteria that cause hospital-acquired infections.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


December 20, 2006, 4:28 AM CT

Blood Transfusions Raise Infection And Death Risk

Blood Transfusions Raise Infection And Death Risk
Blood transfusions save the lives of millions of heart surgery patients and others each year. But a new study suggests that patients who receive transfusions during heart bypass surgery have a higher risk of developing potentially dangerous infections, and dying, after their operation.

In fact, this increased risk may help explain a longstanding medical mystery: why women bypass patients are more likely than men to die in the first few months after surgery. Women are more likely to receive blood during heart bypass operations, which are performed on more than 465,000 Americans each year.

The findings, from the Patient Safety Enhancement Program (PSEP) at the University of Michigan Health System, are based on data from 9,218 Michigan bypass patients. After adjusting for factors such as the urgency of the operation, those who received blood transfusions from donors were five times more likely to die within 100 days of their operation than those who did not.

The paper is reported in the recent issue of the American Heart Journal. It builds on a prior U-M analysis that observed that a difference in infection rates accounted for the difference in death risk between men and women bypass patients.

The U-M team, with the help of Neil Blumberg, M.D., of the University of Rochester Medical Center, focused on blood transfusions as a contributing factor. Previous research has shown that recipients of stored donor blood have more post-surgical infections, and that women receive more transfusions because they tend to have lower hemoglobin concentrations.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


December 7, 2006, 10:05 PM CT

Hormonal Contraception Does Not Increase HIV Risk

Hormonal Contraception Does Not Increase HIV Risk
Using hormonal contraception does not appear to increase women's overall risk of infection with the AIDS virus, report the authors of a large study commissioned by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health.

The study, published on the Web site of the journal AIDS, is the largest, most comprehensive of its kind to date. It followed thousands of women in Africa and compared their patterns of contraceptive use to their risk of infection with HIV.

The NIH project officer for the study, H. Trent MacKay, M.D., M.P.H, Chief of the Contraception and Reproductive Health Branch, said the study findings do not provide a basis for changing current recommendations regarding contraceptive use.

Dr. MacKay cautioned that, eventhough hormonal contraception provides an effective means of pregnancy prevention, it does not protect against HIV or other sexually transmitted infections. Abstinence is the only sure way to prevent sexual transmission of HIV, he said. Barring abstinence, use of a latex condom, consistently and correctly, is highly effective against HIV infection.

More than 100 million women around the world use hormonal contraception, the study authors wrote. In all, 18 million women have been infected with HIV, most during heterosexual relations. "Understanding whether hormonal contraceptive use alters the risk of HIV acquisition among women is a critical public health issue," the study authors wrote.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


November 30, 2006, 4:38 AM CT

Metabolic Syndrome May Be Treatable With Malaria Drug

Metabolic Syndrome May Be Treatable With Malaria Drug
Studies of a rare genetic condition that increases cancer risk have unveiled a potential therapy for metabolic syndrome, a common disorder that afflicts as a number of as one in every four American adults and puts them at sharply increased risk of type 2 diabetes and clogged arteries.

Researchers know relatively little about metabolic syndrome, which is associated with a range of symptoms that include obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, low levels of good cholesterol and high blood sugar levels. The number of adults and children with the condition is rising sharply in industrial countries, and diagnoses are also increasing in developing countries like India and China as they adopt Western standards of living.

In findings reported in the recent issue of Cell Metabolism, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. report that a small dose of the malaria drug chloroquine eased a number of symptoms of metabolic syndrome in mice, reducing blood pressure, decreasing hardening and narrowing of the arteries and improving blood sugar tolerance.

"We just received funding for a clinical trial, and we're very excited to see if the processes activated by chloroquine can effectively treat one of the most common health problems of modern industrialized society," says senior author Clay F. Semenkovich, M.D., professor of medicine and of cell biology and physiology at Washington University. "We already know that chloroquine is safe and well-tolerated, and our mouse results suggest we may only need very low and perhaps infrequent doses to achieve similar effects in humans."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


November 29, 2006, 9:36 PM CT

Risks Increase On Episodic Antiretroviral Therapy

Risks Increase On Episodic Antiretroviral Therapy
Results from one of the largest HIV/AIDS therapy trials ever conducted show that a specific strategy of interrupting antiretroviral treatment more than doubles the risk of AIDS or death from any cause. In the study, the researchers used two predetermined levels of CD4+ T cells, the primary immune cell targeted by HIV, to guide them in respectively suspending or restarting the study participants on antiretroviral treatment.

A report describing this researchwhich involved 318 clinical sites in 33 countriesappears in this week's issue of The New England Journal (NEJM). The trial, known as Strategies for Management of Anti-Retroviral Therapies, or SMART, was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

"The SMART trial has provided important new data that will help physicians and their HIV-infected patients make therapy decisions," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "The study reflects an extraordinary global collaboration among hundreds of dedicated AIDS clinicians and thousands of their patients, all of whom should be commended for their contributions to this pivotal HIV/AIDS therapy study".

As HIV/AIDS has evolved into a chronic disease without a cure, lifelong antiretroviral treatment has become the norm. Lifelong treatment, however, can be difficult to adhere to as well as expensive. For these reasons, there has been a concerted research effort to test therapy interruption strategies that may enhance patients' quality of life and limit adverse drug effects. The experimental strategies vary in their approach to when to interrupt treatment. Some, like SMART, use a specific CD4+ count as a guide; others schedule regular time periods during which therapy is stopped (for example, alternating one month off and three months on).........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


November 28, 2006, 4:41 AM CT

Flu Can Bide Time In Icy Limbo Before Re-emerging

Flu Can Bide Time In Icy Limbo Before Re-emerging
It sounds like a campy '50s horror movie ("It Came from the Ice!"), but a Bowling Green State University biologist believes it's a very real possibility. Dr. Scott Rogers is talking about the potential for long-dormant strains of influenza, packed in ice in remote global outposts, to be unleashed by melting and migratory birds.

"We've found viral RNA in the ice in Siberia, and it's along the major flight paths of migrating waterfowl," whose pathways take them to North America, Asia and Australia, and interconnect with other migratory paths to Europe and Africa, explains Rogers.

Viruses, he says, can be preserved in ice over long periods of time, then released decades later when humans may no longer be immune to them. For instance, survivors of the worldwide flu pandemic of 1918 had immunity to the responsible strain-called H1N1-but that immunity has died with them, meaning a recurrence "could take hold as an epidemic".

H1, the first of 16 versions of the protein heamagglutinin, is what Rogers and his Russian and Israeli colleagues sought in their research, which is being reported in the recent issue of the Journal of Virology. The BGSU professor and biological sciences department chair believes it to be the first time anyone has found--and maybe even looked for--the viral RNA in ice.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


November 27, 2006, 4:42 AM CT

Human testis harbors HIV-1 in resident immune cells

Human testis harbors HIV-1 in resident immune cells
Scientists have demonstrated HIV replication within resident immune cells of the testis, providing an explanation for the persistence of virus in semen even after effective highly active antiretroviral treatment. The related report by Roulet et al., Susceptibility of human testis to human immunodeficiency virus-1 infection in situ and in vitro, appears in the recent issue of The American Journal of Pathology.

As per the most recent World Health Organization data, 39.5 million people are infected with HIV. Semen remains the main means of spreading the virus, even though highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) can successfully suppress virus in the blood. The presence of HIV in the semen despite successful HAART has intrigued scientists.

Scientists led by Dr. Nathalie Dejucq-Rainsford examined testis tissue for the presence of HIV receptors. They observed that all of the necessary cellular receptors (CD4, CXCR4, CCR5, and DC-SIGN) were present on cells located within the testis, specifically testicular macrophages.

The point was demonstrated further by using explanted organ cultures in which human testis tissue was grown in culture. This testis culture, which retained the same tissue architecture as in vivo tissue and continued to secrete testosterone, was able to support infection by HIV-1. Virus produced from the testis culture was fully active as collected virus was able to infect permissive cells in culture.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


November 16, 2006, 9:23 PM CT

Edible Food Wrap Kills Deadly E. Coli

Edible Food Wrap Kills Deadly E. Coli USDA chemist Tara McHugh displays edible food wraps designed to slow the spoilage of fresh fruits and vegetables. Similar wraps developed by McHugh also kill E. coli.
Scientists have improved upon an edible coating for fresh fruits and vegetables by enabling it to kill deadly E. coli bacteria while also providing a flavor-boost to food. Composed of apple puree and oregano oil, which acts as a natural antibacterial agent, the coating shows promise in laboratory studies of becoming a long-lasting, potent alternative to conventional produce washes, as per a team of researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the University of Lleida in Spain.

The study comes on the heels of the recent deadly E. coli outbreak in spinach and amid growing concern by experts that some produce-cleaning techniques may not be effective in destroying E. coli. The study is scheduled for the Nov. 29 issue of the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

"All produce-cleaning methods help to some degree, but our new coatings and films may provide a more concentrated, longer-lasting method for killing bacteria," says Research Leader Tara H. McHugh, Ph.D., a food chemist with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service in Albany, Calif. As the films are made of fruit or vegetable puree, they also provide added health benefits such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, she says.

Scientists have known about the antimicrobial activity of plant-derived essential oils for some time, but McHugh says that her group is the first to incorporate them into a fruit- or vegetable-based edible food wrap for the purpose of improving food safety. Three years ago, she and her associates developed a similar edible food wrap, but without the antimicrobial properties.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


November 10, 2006, 5:02 AM CT

To slow AIDS in Russia, treat HIV-positive addicts

To slow AIDS in Russia, treat HIV-positive addicts
The key to combating AIDS in Russia may be to treat HIV-infected drug users. A new model estimating the spread of HIV in Russia suggests that treating injection drug users with antiretroviral medicine will slow transmission of the virus among the general population.

The study, which will appear in the recent issue of the journal AIDS, was led by Douglas Owens, MD, a researcher at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System and professor of medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine, and Margaret Brandeau, PhD, professor of engineering at Stanford.

Estimates vary, but around 1 million Russians - slightly more than 1 percent of the adult population - are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Injection drug users account for three-quarters of all HIV cases in Russia, and the epidemic is spreading rapidly to non-drug users. As per the United Nations, Russia's HIV infection rate is among the fastest-growing in the world. By 2020, HIV could afflict 14.5 million Russians, as per a research studyfrom the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

Advances in antiretroviral therapies have the potential to stem the spread of the virus in Russia, but in 2005 less than 1 percent of HIV-infected Russians - 5,000 people - received the life-extending drugs.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


November 10, 2006, 4:42 AM CT

Researchers Deciphering Flu Virus

Researchers Deciphering Flu Virus
As the Northern Hemisphere braces for another flu season, scientists at Florida State University's National High Magnetic Field Laboratory are making strides toward better understanding the mechanics of the virus that causes it -- a virus that kills between one-quarter and one-half million people each year.

Tim Cross, director of the lab's Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) program, and collaborators from Brigham Young University are trying to understand the minute parts of the highly virulent Influenza Type A virus. To do that, they are using all of the magnet lab's NMR resources, including its 15-ton, 900-megahertz magnet, to produce a detailed picture of the virus's skin.

"Using the magnet helps us build a blueprint for a virus's mechanics of survival," said Cross, who also is a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at FSU. "The more detailed the blueprint, the better our chances of developing drugs capable of destroying it".

The only magnet of its kind in the world, the "900" is critical to the project's process. Otherwise, an image this complicated would be impossible to obtain.

Cross and David Busath, a biophysicist at Brigham Young University, recently discovered key components of the protein holes, or "channels," in the influenza viral skin. These components lead to unique chemical reactions that are believed to be important clues for understanding how the channels regulate whether the virus can distribute its genes into host cells and reproduce or not. The researchers' findings were published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source



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Did you know?
Scientists at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston have found a genetic marker that may identify individuals at greater risk for life-threatening infection from the West Nile virus. Results of the study are reported in the Nov. 15 print edition of Journal of Infectious Diseases.

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