8,000 New Combinations Identified to Slow Down Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

The drug combinations have been tested in only a laboratory setting and are at least years away from being evaluated as possible treatments for people

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Antibiotic
Health organisations across the world are trying to reduce the use of antibiotics. Pixabay

Biologists have identified over 8,000 new combinations of antibiotics that are surprisingly more effective at killing harmful bacteria than the prevailing ones.

Scientists have traditionally believed that combining more than two drugs to fight harmful bacteria would yield diminishing returns.

The prevailing theory is that the incremental benefits of combining three or more drugs would be too small to matter, or that the interactions among the drugs would cause their benefits to cancel one another out.

However, the study discovered over 8,000 combinations of four and five existing medications that are effective, a finding that could be a major step toward protecting public health at a time when pathogens and common infections are increasingly becoming resistant to antibiotics, the researchers said.

“I was blown away by how many effective combinations there are as we increased the number of drugs,” said Van Savage, the Professor at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA).

“People may think they know how drug combinations will interact, but they really don’t.”

For the study, reported in the journal npj Systems Biology and Applications, the team looked at eight common antibiotics and analysed how every possible four to five drug combination, including with varying dosages, worked against E-coli.

Bacteria
Bacteria, Pixabay

The combinations were effective because individual medications have different means of targeting E. coli.

“Some drugs attack the cell walls, others attack the DNA inside,” Savage said. “It’s like attacking a castle or fortress. Combining different methods of attacking may be more effective than just a single approach.”

“There is a tradition of using just one drug, maybe two,” said Pamela Yeh, Assistant Professor at the UCLA.

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“We’re offering an alternative that looks very promising. We shouldn’t limit ourselves to just single drugs or two-drug combinations in our medical toolbox.

“We expect several of these combinations, or more, will work much better than existing antibiotics,” Yeh added.

However, Yeh noted that although the results are very promising, the drug combinations have been tested in only a laboratory setting and are at least years away from being evaluated as possible treatments for people. (IANS)

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Safely Disinfect Your Prized Designer Shoes

Here are some simple tips to disinfect your designer shoes.

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shoes
In thse times of COVID its imperative to disinfect your cherised designer shoes. Pixabay

BY N. LOTHUNGBENI HUMTSOE

We know COVID-19 is transmitted via direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person (through coughing and sneezing), and touching surfaces contaminated with the virus. But we also know that viruses and bacteria can attach to shoes and remain infectious there for several hours or days too.

As one can run the risk of bringing the virus home through footwear as well, its recommended to leave your shoes out of the home. But how can we disinfect our favorite pair of shoes? IANSlife spoke to Mr Ambud Sharma, Founder and CEO, Escaro Royale to get his tips and directions :

Cleanliness is a vital factor when it comes to combating the spread of the virus. Therefore, it’s important to keep your luxury shoes disinfected as it costs a fortune.

Most of the times, we all are used to spraying a quick spatter cleansers on a pair of trainers or sneakers, but this simply isn’t an option when attempting to sanitize your pure leather shoes and luxury footwear. This needs to be held delicately and therefore it’s not simply only about sanitizing the shoes. Disinfecting kills germs and bacteria with the help of a suitable chemical or cleaner.

Do a thorough Cleaning

Always remember to clean your shoes before disinfecting them. Get rid of the dirt and grime out of the soles and side of a shoe using disposable wipes. You just need to pull one from the pack and use it to remove dust and dirt, while de-odourizing your footwear. The wipes are also great for shining shoes and removing scuff marks too.

shoes
Shoes can be disinfected with these simple tips. Pixabay

Aerosol disinfectant- a savior

Use an aerosol disinfectant meant for fabrics. It has a lower content of disinfectant chemicals such as acetone and bleach, which is likely to stain some fabrics. Ensuring that you’re using an aerosol and not a manual pump spray is also essential, as the application won’t be uniform.

Allow them to dry

After applying the disinfectant, let the shoes dry at room temperature in a clean environment with no sunlight. Let those designer shoes breathe in a new life!

Take proper care of leather and suede too

If you have leather and suede shoes, then you can clean it using a suede eraser. It can be used in removing any kind of dust, dirt or dry stains on suedes and are designed especially for this particular type of leather. You can also use leather cleaners for the same.

Don’t leave shoes wet

Wet shoes are more prone to bacteria. So, if your shoes get wet, it’s important to dry your shoes properly to make sure you don’t cause any damage or let those germs penetrate. The best option here is to let your shoes dry naturally, but if you want to catalyze the process, stuff them with tissue or newspaper to grasp the moisture. If you’re using newspaper, try to avoid sheets with lots of dark ink or pictures, this will help avoid the ink bleeding on to your shoes.

Always Remember!

At last, do not forget to wear gloves when handling potentially contaminated objects, including when disinfecting shoes. After disinfecting your footwear, immediately throw disposable gloves away. The reusable gloves can be stored in a separate laundry basket.

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Remember to avoid using your luxury shoes to a place which you think can be contaminated until you can have it professionally cleaned and disinfected. (IANS)

 

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New Strain of Plastic-Eating Bacteria Found

German Scientists Identify New Strain of Plastic-eating Bacteria

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Plastic
Plastic and other garbage floats in a collector of a new device that uses a curtain of tiny air bubbles to catch plastic floating in the capital's canals is seen in Amsterdam, Netherlands. VOA

By Zlatica Hoke

German scientists say they have identified a strain of bacteria that is feeding on polyurethanes, a plastic resistant to biodegradation. This is an environment news.

A team of researchers at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Leipzig, Germany, has found that a strain of soil bacterium, identified as Pseudomonas putida, can produce enzymes to digest polyurethanes thus making it biodegradable.

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The German team says the bacterium found in the soil surrounding a heap of polyurethane waste was feeding on polyurethane diol, which is used in plastic as a component that protects products from corrosion.

Plastic
A worker sorts through recycling bins at a centre that offers residents money in exchange of their recyclable garbage in an attempt to keep the streets clean in Cairo, Egypt. VOA

Hermann Heipieper, one of the researchers and author of the study published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, said “this finding represents an important step in being able to reuse hard-to-recycle (polyurethane) products.”

The study offers hope of ridding the planet of the growing quantities of discarded plastics’ products that threaten human and animal life. But some scientists are skeptical.

In earlier experiments, biodegradation of some plastics components was achieved with fungi. Yale University students in 2011 discovered a fungus that can digest and break down polyurethane plastic even in a place without air – like the bottom of a landfill. Since then scientists around the world have identified other fungal species that can breakdown polyurethane. In 2017, a team of scientists identified another fungus that can feed on plastic by breaking down chemicals that hold it together.

These studies also raised concerns about the ability of micro-organisms to invade and corrupt a dead and therefore sterile substance like plastic. Research on coral reefs has shown that floating plastics carry disease-causing microbes that infect the coral.

The Leipzig study says bacteria are much easier to control and produce for industrial use. Its authors say the next step is to identify the gene code of the enzymes produced by the bacteria to digest polyurethane.

Some scientists are arguing against introducing man-made enzymes or potentially dangerous micro-organisms into the natural environment.

Two years ago, scientist Douglas Rader wrote in an op-ed for the Environmental Defense Fund that “There is so much more we need to understand about the complex relationships between plastics and marine ecosystems before we can take drastic action such as spraying the ocean with so-called plastic-eating bacteria.”

Plastic
Workers load collected plastic bottles on to a truck at a junk shop in Manila. VOA

Despite new findings, science is nowhere near solving the growing plastics pollution problem. Humankind has manufactured and discarded so much plastics over the years that the world is getting short of places to dump the enormous quantities accumulated every day. Refusal by many developing countries to accept plastic waste from rich nations has exacerbated the problem.

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Some countries are cutting down on the use of plastics bags, drinking straws, bottles and utensils. Scientists keep coming up with new biodegradable products to replace plastic, such as wrapping materials made from algae, straws made of paper and disposable utensils made of bamboo, but the movement could be described as “too little too late.” Recycling the plastics to make building materials, fabrics, and other new plastic products cannot even make a dent in the growing amounts of plastics waste.

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Plastic remains the most practical packaging material and is indispensable in medical, pharmaceutical, sanitary and many other industries. Some new biodegradable, but equally useful material, has yet to be developed.

Meanwhile scientists estimate that about 8 million pieces of plastics enter the oceans every day. For some of them it will take hundreds of years to properly degrade if they are not first swallowed by fish and other marine creatures that will die from it. (VOA)

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Distinctive Bacteria in The Gut May Be Associated With High Blood Pressure

Gut microbiota are constantly changing, depending on what we eat, our environment and especially our genetic makeup

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Bacteria
Gut microbiota are constantly changing, depending on what we eat, our environment and especially our genetic makeup. Pixabay

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have identified a distinct collection of bacteria found in the gut that may contribute to and predict the development of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).

PAH is a chronic and progressive disease in which the arteries that supply blood to the lungs are constricted, resulting in symptoms such as shortness of breath, heart palpitations, fatigue and others.

In PAH, persistently high blood pressure in lung arteries makes the right side of the heart work too hard to pump blood, resulting in right-sided heart failure. According to the study, published in the journal Hypertension, everyone has a collection of bacteria in their gut — known as microbiota — that aid in digestion.

The researchers found that having a specific microbiota profile in their gut predicted the presence of PAH with 83 per cent accuracy.

“We showed for the first time that specific bacteria in the gut are present in people with PAH. While current PAH treatments focus on the lungs, looking at the lung/gut axis could open the door to new therapies centered in the digestive system,” said Indian-origin researcher and study lead author Mohan Raizada from University of Florida in the US.

For the study, stool samples were collected from 18 PAH patients and 12 people without a history of cardiopulmonary disease. The microbiota DNA from the stool samples were isolated and sequenced. The testing revealed a group of bacteria unique in the PAH patients that were associated with PAH.

Blood Pressure
In PAH, persistently high blood pressure in lung arteries makes the right side of the heart work too hard to pump blood, resulting in right-sided heart failure. Pixabay

According to the study, this is the first link between a specific collection of bacteria and pulmonary arterial hypertension. However, it is not the first time that gut bacteria have been connected to medical conditions. A variety of different gut microbiota profiles have been linked to a variety of cardiovascular diseases including high blood pressure, the study added.

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Gut microbiota are constantly changing, depending on what we eat, our environment and especially our genetic makeup. “However, the bacteria associated with PAH are unique and do not seem to change. We believe these particular bacteria are constant,” Raizada said. (IANS)