Friday, April 04, 2008

A Good Day for "Science Friday"

This was a good day for Science Friday.

I learned there are many drug resistant bacteria in the soil. In fact most of the soil bacteria tested will actually consume the antibiotic drugs! They tested 18 drugs and most of the bacteria were able to eat 17 of the drugs with no ill effects. The connection between drug resistant bacteria plaguing humans/hospitals and soil bacteria is not clear though an interesting subject for future study.

Your body is made up of more bacterial cells than human ones. You are definitely not alone.

Bacteriophages are virus that consume bacteria. Due to drug resistant bacteria, the study of phages has again become an important area of research. During the 20's? or 30's when phages were first discovered there was great interest and research in using them to combat bacterial infections. With the advent of broad spectrum antibiotic drugs the interest in bacteriophages declined precipitously but was carried on in some parts of the Soviet Union. Trouble was that phages targeted only very specific bacteria. One type of phage would consume only one type of bacteria: not a broad spectrum drug so identifying the specific bacteria causing the infection was critical. The diagnostic skills and equipment during the early research was not very good so the success rate was less than it should have been and often failed. Now that we have better diagnostic tools, they can target bacteria very accurately without having to worry about drug resistance. The virus evolve with the bacteria so there's no eluding the virus by the bacterium cloaking itself with a new coating.

There are many cities in the U.S. of all places (I thought we were hopeless) who are using green low tech solutions to conserve energy, i.e. city building roofs in Chicago could reach 160F degrees during a hot summer day. By planting gardens on the roof they reduced the temperature by 70F degrees saving one building $10,000 in cooling cost annually.

Go to the website to read more or download and listen to the podcast.

Wired magazine had the Science magazine article 'Bacteria That Eat Antibiotics' on their website earlier today but it was apparently taken down probably because they did not have permission from Science to use the article? So, unfortunately, unless you have a subscription to Science magazine you won't be able to access the article.


Blogger kate smudges said...

Hi Ki,

I had no idea - bacteria eating antibiotics without any ill effects. It'll be interesting to see where the research on phages takes us.

10:58 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Kate,
They started the show about phages with a story about a guy who broke his foot with the bone piercing his skin. He contracted an infection of the bone and after many antibiotic treatments the doctors decided it was hopeless and recommended amputation of his foot. The patient was not happy about losing his foot so he researched curing long term infections and came upon phage treatment. He went to Tbilisi, Georgia in the former Soviet Union where they were still doing phage treatments. Fortunate for him they were able to cure the infection when antibiotics wouldn't.

I've also heard that honey which was used by the ancient Egyptians cured wound infections. In fact I think I wrote an article about this last year. I'll have to search my blogs. So there appears to be other cures for infections besides antibiotics, which is reassuring.

6:22 PM  

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