Humans 2.0 - "With CRISPR, scientists can change, delete, and replace genes in any animal, including us. Working mostly with mice, researchers have already deployed the tool to correct the genetic errors responsible for sickle-cell anemia, muscular dystrophy, and the fundamental defect associated with cystic fibrosis. One group has replaced a mutation that causes cataracts; another has destroyed receptors that H.I.V. uses to infiltrate our immune system." [more inside]
"Humans as Superorganisms: How Microbes, Viruses, Imprinted Genes and Other Selfish Entities Shape Our Behavior" by Peter Kramer and Paola Bressan discusses the idea that an individual homo sapiens is only one component of the human superorganism we call a person, focusing on the psychological and psychiatric ramifications thereof. (Paola Bressan previously.)
The CRISPR Revolution [ungated: 1,2,3] - "Biologists continue to hone their tools for deleting, replacing or otherwise editing DNA and a strategy called CRISPR has quickly become one of the most popular ways to do genome engineering. Utilizing a modified bacterial protein and a RNA that guides it to a specific DNA sequence, the CRISPR system provides unprecedented control over genes in many species, including perhaps humans. This control has allowed many new types of experiments, but also raised questions about what CRISPR can enable." [more inside]
Five years after my great-uncle’s death, penicillin changed medicine forever. Infections that had been death sentences—from battlefield wounds, industrial accidents, childbirth—suddenly could be cured in a few days. So when I first read the story of his death, it lit up for me what life must have been like before antibiotics started saving us. -- Lately, though, I read it differently. In Joe’s story, I see what life might become if we did not have antibiotics any more.
Fecal transplants have been used with success to treat C.difficile infections, often acquired in hospital or nursing homes and notoriously difficult to treat. They have also shown some efficacy in treatment of ulcerative colitis (pdf). [more inside]
The secret, social lives of bacteria. "Bonnie Bassler discovered that bacteria 'talk' to each other, using a chemical language that lets them coordinate defense and mount attacks. The find has stunning implications for medicine, industry -- and our understanding of ourselves." [Via]
We all know that marijuana has some medical uses. It has been discussed on Mefi many times before. Earlier this month a group of pharmacists and chemists published a study in which they found that cannabis is a source of antibacterial chemicals for multidrug resistant bacteria. If you are a pharmacists or chemist here is the actual study. A synopsis of the study for everyone else.
"By early 2005, nearly one-third of the wounded soldiers admitted to the National Naval Medical Center had been colonized by the bacteria."
Rumors were circulating at the hospital that insurgents dosed their homemade bombs with the flesh of dead animals. ---multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter, and how we brought it to Iraq ourselves. "My colleagues and I have been looking for Acinetobacter baumannii in soil samples for years, and we haven't found it," she says. "These organisms are quite rare outside of hospitals." In other news, conditions in Iraqi hospitals are so bad due to lack of even the most basic supplies they're calling it a breach of the Geneva Conventions.
First vancomycin-resistant bacteria found in Detroit. This is worrisome, as vancomycin is usually the last antibiotic of choice when fighting a bacterial infection. Bacteria are both helpful and hurtful to the human body, but the little bugs seem to evolve much more quickly than humans own immune systems. Have we seen an end to antibiotics used in the fight against bacteria? What alternatives do we have?