Now Some Good News

>NEW VACCINE developed against MERS - Middle East Respiratory Syndrome
9th April 2019. University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Pub. The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The MERS virus can cause sudden severe and fatal respiratory symptoms, systemic infection and multi-organ failure. It was first identified in 2012 has caused more than 2,250 confirmed infections with a 35 percent mortality rate in 27 countries. MERS can be spread from camel-to-human or person-to-person. Due to its high camel population the Arabian Peninsula has been linked to many cases, but there was an outbreak in S. Korea in 2015 - evidence that it has the potential to spread worldwide.

Senior author Chien-Te K Tseng, professor in UTMB's Centers for Biodefense and Emerging Diseases, said “In the past, we've mainly focused on developing universal influenza vaccines by targeting the viral proteins to specific cells that have a molecule called CD40 on their surfaces. We modified and optimized our earlier vaccine platform to generate new potential MERS vaccines."

>Microbes hitched to insects provide a rich source of new antibiotics

February 1, 2019 By Eric Hamilton For news media Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison Summary: The largest and most thorough study to assess insect-associated microbes for antibiotic activity to date has found that insect-borne microbes often outperformed soil bacteria in stopping some of the most common and dangerous antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

An exhaustive search of microbes from more than 1,400 insects collected from diverse environments across North and South America found that the same class of bacteria that gave us many of our antibiotics, known as Streptomyces, makes a home not just in the soil but all over, including on insects. 50,000 trials tested each microbe's ability to inhibit the growth of 24 different bacteria and fungi, many of which, like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA, pose serious threats to human health. A greater proportion of insect-associated microbes were able to inhibit the growth of these bacterial or fungal targets than were microbes isolated from soil or plants.

A new antibiotic from a Brazilian fungus-farming ant, was discovered. Named Cyphomycin, it was found effective in lab tests against fungi resistant to most other antibiotics and combatted fungal infections without causing toxic side effects in a mouse model. The researchers have submitted a patent based on cyphomycin because of its effectiveness in these early tests, setting up the team to begin to do the significant additional work required before cyphomycin could be developed into a new drug used in the clinic. The work was published Jan. 31 in the journal Nature Communications. Download report pdf.

>Gene-editing tool now being used to develop better antibiotics

January 11, 2019. 
More brilliant innovative thinking from University of Wisconsin–Madison! Jason Peters, a UW–Madison professor of pharmaceutical sciences, and his collaborators at the University of California, San Francisco  developed the new system to figure out new weaknesses in the disease-causing pathogens.

The gene-editing tool CRISPR has been repurposed to study which genes are targeted by particular antibiotics. The technique, Mobile-CRISPRi, allows scientists to screen for antibiotic function in a wide range of pathogenic bacteria. Using a form of bacterial sex, known as conjugation, the researchers transferred Mobile-CRISPRi from common laboratory strains into diverse bacteria - allowing researchers to identify how antibiotics inhibit the growth of pathogens. 

>NHS to partner with Commonwealth nations to stop superbugs
27 September 2018  News story  DHSC
Volunteer NHS clinical staff will work alongside local health workers in Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

>New Antibiotics, Emerging Disease Threats Ahead at IDWeek
September 24, 2018 - Marcia Frellick  
San Francisco — Five new antibiotics that are in clinical development and will likely progress to big clinical trials will be in the spotlight at the upcoming IDWeek 2018.
"These are drugs that really explore new mechanisms for very resistant bugs," said Cesar Arias, MD, PhD, from the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston and the Infectious Diseases Society of America, who is vice chair of the meeting.
One of the drugs is a bacteriophage first-in-class lysin that is being investigated as a potential treatment for staphylococcus aureus. Phase 2 results will be presented during the pipeline session. This is a big deal in the era of resistance and superbugs.

>Significant breakthrough by scientists at Manchester University developing the first non-antibiotic drug to successfully treat tuberculosis in animals.

11 September 2018.
One in three people across the world are thought to be infected with TB, an infectious disease. It is most common in Africa, India and China, but on the rise in the UK with London often described as the TB capital of Europe.  About 1.7 million worldwide die from TB each year and 7.3 million people were diagnosed and treated in 2018, up from the 6.3 million in 2016.  A TB vaccine was developed over 100 years ago but for the past six decades doctors have been able to use antibiotics against this killer disease. Now TB bacteria are increasingly developing drug-resistance. The team hope the compound, developed after 10 years of painstaking research, will be trialled on humans within three to four years. The programme is funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC). 

Source: Materials provided by University of Manchester

>Cicada Wings: Novel antimicrobial surfaces to combat AMR infections in medical implants and devices
 July 2018
 Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol  Department Name: Oral and Dental Science

This innovative project explored a unique physical means to combat biomaterial-associated bacterial infections, utilising novel surfaces that kill bacteria with nanospikes, that resemble the nanotextured surfaces found on cicada wings in nature and have already been shown to be effective at killing certain bacteria by us. 

Read More

>Department of Health and Social Care
9 July 2018   News story
£10 million research competition launched to tackle antimicrobial resistance
The competition aims to encourage the development of innovative scientific approaches to stopping antimicrobial resistance and to infection control and prevention.

>Hope found in a toenail fungus
26 April 2018.  By Bhaya Khullar. Read: Fungus around toenails can kill bacteria that cause life threatening infections
A report published in Reviews in Medical Microbiology claims to have discovered a fungus found growing on human toenails may offer a new source of novel antibiotic treatment! The fungus, was grown in the lab under controlled conditions for after which its extract, prepared by a standard procedure, yielded a cocktail of compounds that killed Escherichia coli, Streptococcus pyogenes and Pseudomonas aeruginosa – bacteria that cause life threatening infections in humans. The research team who found the new antibiotic cocktail consists of Adnan H. Aubaid, Haider Al-Shawi and Nawfal H. Al-Dujaili at the Medicine College of the University of Al-Qadisiyah, Diwaniya Technical Institute of the Al-Furat Al-awsat Technical University, and the Department of Biotechnology of the Al-Kufa University in Iraq. Penicillin, the first antibiotic was produced by a fungus.

>New type of antibiotic discovered in soil 

13 February 2018   Alex Matthews-KIng
Whole new class of antibiotics discovered in soil       
After years of drought in drug discovery, scientists hail good news in 'antibiotic arms race'

>Key role of one gene segment in E-coli’s DNA

13 November 2017 

Scientists find vulnerability that may hold key to killing superbugs
Scientists have unearthed two completely unexpected methods used by drug-resistant superbugs to 
withstand antibiotic treatments, raising the potential for new cures in the future.

>Human-virus hybrid created to kill off antibiotic-resistant MRSA superbug

 Human-virus hybrid created to kill off antibiotic-resistant superbugs
17 April 2017. Ian Johnston 
Tests are underway to establish if equipping a human immune cell with a 'targeting device' from a virus is safe

>Antibiotic resistance: Superbugs can be killed by modifying existing drugs, scientists discover

New way found to make antibiotics kill resistant superbugs
3 February 2017  Ian Johnston 
One type of antibiotic is found to kill bacteria by ripping it open by brute force, a previously unknown method that could help make a whole new generation of drugs

>Armor-like shark skin may offer defense from superbugs
Published on 27 Mar 2015   
Do sharks offer a key to fighting deadly bacteria? The White House unveiled a new campaign Friday to contain drug-resistant bacteria known as “superbugs,” and one of the unlikely resources that researchers are turning to is shark skin. Hari Sreenivasan reports. 


Penicillin heralded the dawn of the antibiotic age - due to overuse and misuse we are approaching a post-antibiotic age.