Microbiology

06/29/2014 - 19:52

Recent years have witnessed an explosion in the levels of tuberculosis, making it the second biggest cause of death by infectious disease after HIV. A major reason behind this is the emergence of strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis that are resistant to rifamycin family antibiotics such as rifampicin, the most effective tuberculosis antibiotic available. However, a breakthrough may be on the way in the fight against tuberculosis. A new study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry describes a modified rifampicin called 24-desmethylrifampicin, derived from a rifamycin analogue, which is strongly antibacterial against many rifampicin-resistant M. tuberculosis strains.

05/09/2014 - 09:44

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have engineered a bacterium whose genetic material includes an added pair of DNA “letters,” or bases, not found in nature. The cells of this unique bacterium can replicate the unnatural DNA bases more or less normally, for as long as the molecular building blocks are supplied.

 

05/08/2014 - 14:57

A protein called suppression of cytokine signalling-4 (SOCS-4) is a key regulator of the immune response against influenza virus. It is important in controlling the ‘cytokine storm’ associated with the lungs of critically ill patients. These are the main findings of a new study in the journal PLoS Pathogens from researchers in Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne and the University of Melbourne.

 

05/08/2014 - 08:10

The largest metagenomic search for antibiotic resistance genes in the DNA sequences of microbial communities from around the globe has found that bacteria carrying those vexing genes turn up everywhere in nature that scientists look for them. The findings reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on May 8 add to evidence showing just how common and abundant those resistance genes really are in natural environments.

 

05/02/2014 - 08:37

The majority opinion of advisory groups to the World Health Organisation (WHO) is that remaining stocks of live variola, the virus that causes smallpox, should be discontinued. The issue is on the agenda of the upcoming meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA), which is the governing body of WHO.

 

05/01/2014 - 13:35

Researchers have identified a section of the anthrax toxin Lethal Factor that could help produce a more effective vaccine. Anthrax is a potentially lethal disease caused by a bacterium called Bacillus anthracis. The bacteria produce spores that when inhaled, ingested or absorbed into the skin release toxins. When anthrax affects the lungs or intestines it can cause death within a few days whilst infection of the skin (cutaneous anthrax) is less dangerous.