AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: antimicrobial

Next-Gen Therapeutics!

Scientists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have launched a massive mission to confront the escalating challenge of antibiotic resistance in Mycobacterium abscessus (Mab), a pathogen naturally resistant to antibiotics. The urgency of this is emphasized by the increasing threat of Mab infections in healthcare settings, mainly those with compromised lung function or weakened immune systems. In response to the need for innovative therapeutics, the researchers at St. Jude undertook a careful approach, which focused on redesigning the antibiotic spectinomycin to generate new versions capable of overcoming the primary driver of resistance, which is something called efflux (the process cells use to remove drugs). The findings of their work, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, discovered the development of structurally distinct N-ethylene linked aminomethyl spectinomycins (eAmSPCs), outperforming standard spectinomycin by up to 64 times in power against Mycobacterium abscessus.


Connecting to class, this work underscores the significance of antibodies (Unfortunate Ned), which are proteins produced by B cells in response to specific pathogens. The development of this variant against Mab links to the antibody-mediated immune response. Engineering more potent antibiotics against Mab shows a real-world application of understanding and manipulating the immune system’s humoral response, highlighting the importance of B cells in providing long-term protection against infections.

Humoral Response Drawing

Overall, the significance of this breakthrough is not only in the efficiency of eAmSPCs, but also in solving their course of action. By explaining how these compounds avoid efflux, the researchers have paved the way for a shift in antimicrobial therapy. The researchers discovered that eAmSPCs show compatibility with various classes of antibiotics used to treat Mab, while retaining their effectiveness against other mycobacterial strains. This adaptable characteristic leads eAmSPCs to be the potential future of therapeutics, offering hope for patients struggling with limited or nonexistent treatment options.


(Post Includes Edits Made Through Grammarly)

Danger in the Growing Animal Product Industry

As more countries begin to mass produce animal products, more antimicrobials are used to keep the animals from spreading disease. However, this commonplace antimicrobial use results in antimicrobial resistance, specifically in low and middle-income countries with few rules in place. Interestingly, most instances of microbial resistance occur in Asia and South America, but there are few instances in Africa.

Once animals develop antimicrobial resistance, it affects the rest of the food chain. When farmers give their animals antimicrobials, all of their stomach bacteria besides the resistant kind is killed. As a result, antimicrobial-resistant bacteria can spread to the soil, to produce, and to humans. Potentially, in a world without antimicrobials, even simple surgeries can be unimaginably dangerous, and diseases can be difficult to treat. At the moment, in certain countries, people are developing drug-resistant strains of malaria, tuberculosis, influenza, and even HIV.

A description of how drug resistant bacteria reproduce after other bacteria are killed.

Researchers have multiple ways of testing the spread of antimicrobial resistance. They can search for pockets where animals carry illnesses that are resistant to antimicrobials, such as penicillin. Researchers now test how many animals have resistance to drugs by giving them drugs and seeing if the animals respond. In antimicrobial-resistant hotspots, up to 50% of animals may not respond to drugs. People can struggle to find accurate information regarding the amount of drug-resistant animals, specifically in South America, where information is not always public. Researchers have also created the Resistance Bank, where people can see the specific antibiotics animals are resistant to. Its goal is to increase awareness in lower-income countries who may not have the resources to publish scientific articles describing the levels of antimicrobial resistance.

How can we protect ourselves from this growing threat? On a global scale, the spread of antimicrobial-resistant diseases can only be completely slowed with the halting of overuse on people and animals. In contrast, if we each wash our hands often, cook meat before eating it and use separate preparing utensils for raw meat and all other foods, and spread awareness about the overuse of antibiotics, perhaps each one of us can help halt the spread of antimicrobial-resistant infections.


Seagrasses: Benefitting the Ecosystem

Seagrasses have been known to improve water quality greatly, however it was only recently that scientists discovered other major benefits of the plants that reside in the ocean. The name seagrasses is a misnomer, for they are actually plants that grow in shallow ocean water. Seagrasses are one of the largest stores of carbon in the ocean, and they also remove excess nitrogen and phosphorous from the water.

A few years however, ecologist Joleah Lamb’s colleagues fell ill with amoebic dysentery. This is an intestinal illness that they contracted while conducting research on coral reefs in Indonesia. The illness can be caused by the release of raw sewage into the ocean by a city, which leads to a drastic increase in the populations of shoreline bacteria. The water collected close to the shore had been compared to offshore tidal flats and coral reefs with seagrass beds. The two different sites were very close to one another, yet the water where the seagrass was had a significantly smaller amount of Enterococcus bacteria. The bacteria in areas with seagrass was only 1/3 of that in other areas that did not have the plants. This bacteria is not only dangerous for humans, but is harmful for fish and other species as well.

While at this moment it is uncertain how the seagrasses clean the water, we know that seagrasses trap small particulates and prevent them from flowing on in the ocean. It is believed that the plants would catch the bacteria in the same way, or that the leaves might emit antimicrobial compounds that directly kill the bacteria. Another possibility could be that seagrasses release oxygen made during photosynthesis, and the oxygen is toxic to pathogens. Also, it is noted that seagrass meadows often are located next to coral reefs, so some suggest that they work together to protect one another from bacteria and other possible dangers.


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