Archive News 2015


How to Solve the Problem of Antibiotic Resistance

Venki Ramakrishnan, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist based at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the University of Cambridge, tells us about the importance of gaining a better understanding of the use and misuse of these wonder drugs.
-Scientific American read more

Antibiotics, bacteria, resistance genes found in dust from feedlots

After testing dust in the air near cattle feedlots in the Southern High Plains, researchers at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech University found evidence of antibiotics, feedlot-derived bacteria and DNA sequences that encode for antibiotic resistance.
-Science Daily read more

New type of antibiotic resistance living in hiding

Aggressive infections constitute an increasing health problem all over the world. The development of bacterial resistance development is immense, and in the USA, resistant staphylococci cause more deaths than AIDS on an annual basis. Traditionally, antibiotic resistance is associated with genetic mutations in the bacteria, but researchers at the University of Copenhagen can now show that this is not necessarily the case:
-Science Daily read more

A new antibiotic kills pathogens without detectable resistance

Widespread introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s, beginning with penicillin, and streptomycin, transformed medicine, providing effective cures for the most prevalent diseases of the time. Resistance development limits the useful lifespan of antibiotics and results in the requirement for a constant introduction of new compounds. However, antimicrobial drug discovery is uniquely difficult, primarily due to poor penetration of compounds into bacterial cells. Natural products evolved to breach the penetration barriers of target bacteria, and most antibiotics introduced into the clinic were discovered by screening cultivable soil microorganisms. Overmining of this limited resource by the 1960s brought an end to the initial era of antibiotic discovery. Synthetic approaches were unable to replace natural products.
-Nature read more


The Antibiotics Problem in Meat

A new study suggests that a consumer demand for chicken and pork in places like India, Russia, China, and Brazil will help drive a large increase in overuse of the drugs by 2030. Is there anything we can do about it?
-The Atlantic read more

Increase in antibiotic-resistant infections linked to government corruption, study finds

The increase in antibiotic-resistant infections, labelled an impending health crisis by the World Health Organisation, has been linked to a country's level of government corruption in new research from the Australian National University.
-ABC News read more


WHO report finds systems to combat antibiotic resistance lacking

A quarter of countries that responded to a WHO survey have national plans to preserve antimicrobial medicines like antibiotics, but many more countries must also step up. A new report, "Worldwide country situation analysis: Response to antimicrobial resistance", which outlines the survey findings, reveals that while much activity is underway and many governments are committed to addressing the problem, there are major gaps in actions needed across all 6 WHO regions to prevent the misuse of antibiotics and reduce spread of antimicrobial resistance.
-World Health Organization read more

Bacterial flora of remote tribespeople carries antibiotic resistance genes

Scientists have found antibiotic resistance genes in the bacterial flora of a South American tribe that never before had been exposed to antibiotic drugs. The findings suggest that bacteria in the human body have had the ability to resist antibiotics since long before such drugs were ever used to treat disease.
The research stems from the 2009 discovery of a tribe of Yanomami Amerindians in a remote mountainous area in southern Venezuela. Largely because the tribe had been isolated from other societies for more than 11,000 years, its members were found to have among the most diverse collections of bacteria recorded in humans. Within that plethora of bacteria, though, the researchers have identified genes wired to resist antibiotics.
-Science Daily read more

No, you don’t have to finish all your antibiotics

Most people believe – and have been told by health professionals – that it’s essential to finish a course of antibiotics to prevent antibiotic resistance. But this advice is not only wrong, it could actually be harmful. The idea that you have to take all the antibiotics you’re prescribed is based on the assumption that all the bacteria causing the infection have to be killed, so the surviving minority don’t become resistant. In fact, for most otherwise healthy people, significantly reducing, but not necessarily totally eliminating, the bacteria causing the infection allows the body’s natural defences to take over and mop up the remaining few.
-The Conversation read more

Turtle therapy might help develop alternative to antibiotic treatments for humans, Queensland researchers say

The medical treatment known as phage therapy has proven successful in treating sick turtles where antibiotics failed.
Scientists at James Cook University found an amazing similarity between humans and turtles: in both, antibiotics can be as harmful as they are helpful when treating illnesses.
-ABC News read more

Golden staph: the deadly bug that wreaks havoc in hospitals

Take this quick medical pop quiz: which of the following conditions would you prefer to have during your next stay in hospital? A. Staphylococcus aureus (golden staph) bloodstream infection; or B. a heart attack?
I am guessing most non-medical readers voted for the Staph option and, if my experience is anything to go by, the majority of medical readers will have also made a microbial choice.
-The Conversation read more

New Strain of Acinetobacter Identified in Fatal Outbreak

A clade B strain of Acinetobacter baumannii (AB) was tied to a healthcare-associated outbreak that led to six patient deaths. Clade B is characterized by extensive drug resistance. It is also hypervirulent, and experts warn it warrants continued investigation and increased surveillance.
Crystal L. Jones, MD, from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland, and colleagues published their outbreak report online March 29 in Clinical Infectious Diseases. The outbreak investigation included clinical and microbiological data as well as comparative genomics and animal models of virulence.
-Medscape read more


National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2015-2019

The Australian Government has released the first National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy to guide the response to the threat of antibiotic misuse and resistance. The strategy was developed in partnership with industry and government, and will guide action by governments, health professionals, veterinarians, farmers and communities to reduce the emergence of resistant bacteria.
- The Department of Health read more


Informatics Core Facility


The Informatics Core Facility provides bioinformatics services, and from 2016 will provide additional software and services to support researchers working in a broad range of informatics disciplines across the university’s campuses.
- Sydney Medical School read more

National Science Week

Australia's annual celebration of science, 15th-23rd August 2015
- read more


Microbiology Australia Vol. 36 No. 3

The official journal of the Australian Society for Microbiology Inc. is available online now. Get the full report from ASM Canberra 2015, read Vertical Transmission by ASM President, Jon Iredell and don't miss the interesting article by Lyn Gilbert and Peter Collignon, Out of Africa: response to Ebola in the developed world; lessons for the future.
- ASM download issue

Poo transplants can eliminate two superbugs from the gut: mice study

white mouse

Photo: Rick Eh/flickr

Two of the most common antibiotic-resistant bacteria circulating in hospitals can be wiped out by transplanting faeces from a healthy animal into the gut of an infected one, a study on mice has found. The study, published today in the journal PLOS Pathogens examined two antibiotic resistant bugs: vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE) and multi-drug resistant Klebsiella pneumonia.
- The read more


Bacteria on ancient flea trapped in amber may be ancestor of Black Death

flea perserved in amber

Researchers believe the bacteria, described in the Journal of Medical Entomology, was an ancient strain of Yersinia pestis, which caused the bubonic plague, aka the Black Death. More than a third of Europe's population, at least 30 million people, succumbed to the scourge in the 14th century.
Droplets of the bacteria were found on the flea's proboscis (sucking mouthpart) and in the rectum of the flea.
- read more