Friday January 24, 2020

Fish Mucus Offers Potential New Antibiotics

It would be interesting to figure out if anything in the mucus, which protects the fish, could actually help protect humans

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Around 334 million people worldwide suffer from asthma, and about a quarter of a million people die from it every year. Pixabay

With current antibiotics dwindling in effectiveness against multidrug-resistant pathogens, researchers have identified an untapped antibiotic candidate in the protective mucus that coats young fish.

The mucus contains bacteria with promising antibiotic activity against known pathogens-even dangerous organisms, such as the microbe that causes MRSA infections.

This viscous substance protects fish from bacteria, fungi, and viruses in their environment, trapping the microbes before they can cause infections. The slime is also rich in polysaccharides and peptides known to have antibacterial activity.

“Fish mucus is really interesting because the environment the fish live in is complex,” said Molly Austin, an undergraduate chemistry student at the Oregon State University.

“They are in contact with their environment all the time with many pathogenic viruses.”

The researchers will be presented at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Spring 2019 National Meeting and Exposition.

For the study, the mucus was swabbed from juvenile deep-sea and surface-dwelling fish caught off the Southern California coast. The team examined young fish because they have a less-developed immune system and more mucus on the outside of their scales that could contain a greater concentration of active bacteria than adult fish.

Fish are seen in a fish market near the canal of Port Said, Egypt, March 18, 2018.
Fish are seen in a fish market near the canal of Port Said, Egypt, March 18, 2018. VOA

They isolated and screened 47 different strains of bacteria from the slime.

Five bacterial extracts strongly inhibited methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), and three inhibited Candida albicans, a fungus pathogenic to humans.

A bacteria from mucus derived from a particular Pacific pink perch showed strong activity against MRSA and against a colon carcinoma cell line.

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The study could also help reduce the use of antibiotics in fish farming by leading to better antibiotics specifically targeted to the microbes clinging to certain types of fish.

While novel chemical reagents have been found in the human microbiome, the marine equivalent remains relatively unstudied.

It would be interesting to figure out if anything in the mucus, which protects the fish, could actually help protect humans. (IANS)

Next Story

Gene Expression Signature in Blood May Predict Onset of Tuberculosis

This blood test may predict onset of tuberculosis

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Blood Test
Gene expression signatures in blood could be used to predict tuberculosis at a very early stage. PIxabay

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have revealed a blood test could predict the onset of tuberculosis three to six months before people become unwell, a finding which could help better target antibiotics and save countless lives. This test is a must for a healthy lifestyle.

For the findings, published in the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine, researchers at University College London sought to identify which, if any, gene expression signatures in blood could be used to predict the disease at a very early stage and before symptoms

Gene expression signatures are single or combined measurements of levels of specific gene products and are being tested in a range of diseases to aid diagnosis, prognosis or prediction of the response to treatment.

Some are already being used to support the management of cancers, but none have reached the clinic in infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis (TB).

“Our findings establish the gene signatures in blood which show most promise for identifying people who are at risk of disease,” said study author Mahdad Noursadeghi, Professor at University College London.

Blood Test
The emergence of gene expression signature blood tests, which can aid diagnosis and early treatment, provides real hope for the management of infectious diseases. Pixabay

“Future development of a blood test based on these findings could make an important contribution to efforts to reduce the impact and spread of this deadly infection,” Noursadeghi added.

For this study, researchers initially conducted a systematic review of published gene signatures found to be present in blood samples from people with TB, compared to healthy individuals.

From this, 17 candidate gene expression signatures for TB were identified, and tested in more than 1,100 blood samples in published data sets from South Africa, Ethiopia, The Gambia, and the UK. Scientists analysed samples from people who had no TB symptoms at the time they gave blood. Those people were then followed up to identify which participants developed TB in the subsequent months.

Researchers found that eight of these signatures, including measurement of expression of a single gene, could predict the diagnosis of TB within three to six months, which falls within the accuracy required by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for new diagnostic tests.

This accuracy was achieved, by revealing the patients’ immune responses to bacteria before the symptoms of the disease develop. “The emergence of gene expression signature tests, which can aid diagnosis and early treatment, provides real hope for the management of infectious diseases,” said Indian-origin researcher and the study’s lead author Rishi Gupta.

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“In this study we identify multiple signatures to identify the onset of tuberculosis, which is extremely encouraging, potentially providing multiple targets for early detection,” Gupta added.

Further development of these tests could help identify people who will benefit most from preventative antibiotic treatment, in order to reduce the occurrence of tuberculosis, the researchers said. (IANS)