Thursday July 18, 2019

Study: Not Only Animal Meat, Veggies Also Transmit Anitibiotic-Resistant Bacteria to Human Gut

This estimate is based on patients who directly acquire antibiotic-resistant superbugs from eating meat

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veggies, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, human gut
They grew lettuce, exposed it to antibiotic-resistant E. coli, fed it to the mice and analyzed their faecal samples over time. Pixabay

Not just animal meat but plant-based foods are also serving as vehicles for transmitting antibiotic-resistant bacteria to the gut microbiome of humans, warn researchers. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that of the two million antibiotic-resistant infections per year in the country, 20 per cent are linked to agriculture.

This estimate is based on patients who directly acquire antibiotic-resistant superbugs from eating meat. “Our findings highlight the importance of tackling food-borne antibiotic-resistance from a complete food chain perspective that includes plant-foods in addition to meat,” said Marlene Maeusli from Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.

meat, human gut, veggies
This estimate is based on patients who directly acquire antibiotic-resistant superbugs from eating meat. Pixabay

To reach this conclusion, the researchers developed a novel, lettuce-mouse model system that does not cause immediate illness to mimic consumption of superbugs with plant-foods. They grew lettuce, exposed it to antibiotic-resistant E. coli, fed it to the mice and analyzed their faecal samples over time.

“We found differences in the ability of bacteria to silently colonize the gut after ingestion, depending on a variety of host and bacterial factors,” said Maeusli. “We mimicked antibiotic and antacid treatments, as both could affect the ability of superbugs to survive passage from the stomach to the intestines.”

meat, veggies, human gut
10th Anniversary of Eat less Meat campaign by Hindu Council. Pixabay

Little has been done till date to determine how eating plants contributes to the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs from plants to humans is different from outbreaks of diarrheal illnesses caused immediately after eating contaminated vegetables.

ALSO READ: Swimming in Ocean Alters Skin Microbiome and Increases Risk of Ear, Skin Infection: Study

Superbugs can asymptomatically hide in or “colonize” the intestines for months or even years, when they then escape the intestine and cause an infection, such as a urinary infection.

“We continue to seek the plant characteristics and host factors that result in key microbial community shifts in the gut that put us at risk for colonization and those that prevent it,” said the researchers at the meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. (IANS)

Next Story

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Pose One of the Biggest Threats to Global Health; Researchers Working on Cell Killing Machine

The nanomachines can drill into cancer cells, causing the cells’ nucleus to disintegrate into fragments

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antibiotic resistant bacteria, cell killing machine
This video screen shot shows what happens when nanomachines drill through the cell membrane. The tiny motors drill through the nucleus and the entire cell disintegrates. VOA

A team of researchers across three universities is working on a cell-killing machine invisible to the naked eye. “We want to be bacteria’s worst nightmare,” said James Tour, T.T. and W. F. Chao Professor of Chemistry at Rice University in Houston. He is also a professor of materials science and nanoengineering, and computer science.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria pose one of the biggest threats to global health, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers at Rice University, Durham University in Britain and North Carolina State University may have discovered a way to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

They’re experimenting with tiny, manmade nanomachines that can drill into a cell, killing it. The machines are single molecule motors that can spin at about 3 million rotations a second when a blue light shines on them. As they spin, they drill into the cell. Harmful bacteria cannot mutate to overcome this type of weapon, Tour said.

“We may have found something that the cell could never build a resistance to,” he added. The nanomachines are so small that about 50,0000 of them can fit across the diameter of a human hair. In comparison, only about 50 cells can take up that amount of space. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are not the only enemies this weapon can fight.

Cancer killer

The nanomachines can drill into cancer cells, causing the cells’ nucleus to disintegrate into fragments. “We’ve tried four different types, and every cancer cell that it touches is toast,” said Tour, whose team tested the nanomachines on a couple strains of human breast cancer cells, cancerous skin cells and pancreatic cancer cells.

The way it works is that a peptide, also a molecule that consists of amino acids, is added to the nanomotor. That peptide recognizes specific cells and binds the nanomachine to that cell so that only cancer cells, not healthy cells, are targeted. A blue light activates the machine. “Generally, it’s not just one nanomachine, it’s 50, and each cell is going to get 50 holes drilled in it generally,” Tour said.

The nanomachines can fight cancerous cells in the mouth, upper and lower gastrointestinal tracts and bladder “wherever you can get a scope in, a light, apply it right there, and use the light” to activate the motors, Tour said. It would only take a few minutes to kill cancerous cells with nanomachines, in contrast to days or longer using radiation or chemotherapy, Tour said.

antibiotic resistant bacteria, cell killing machine
The nanomachines can drill into cancer cells, causing the cells’ nucleus to disintegrate into fragments. Pixabay

Sculpt away fat

In another application, nanomachines could be used to sculpt away fat cells when applied onto the skin through a gel. “You just take a bright light and just pass it over and these start attacking the adipocytes, which are the fat cells and blow those open,” Tour said.

ALSO READ: Researchers Discover Viruses in Kitchen Sponges that can Kill Bacteria

Next steps

Researchers have only worked with nanomachines in a lab, so using this method in a clinical setting is still some time off. Later this year, researchers will start testing nanomachines on staphylococcus bacteria skin infections on live rodents.

One challenge scientists will have to overcome as nanomachine research progresses is how to get the blue light deep into the body if the motors are to fight bacteria or tumor cells that are well below the skin’s surface. (VOA)