WHO-Worldwide country situation analysis: antimicrobial resistance

WHO releases report on antimicrobial resistance plans.

Antimicrobial resistance has been detected in all parts of the world; it is one of the greatest
challenges to global public health today, and the problem is increasing. Although antimicrobial
resistance is a natural phenomenon, it is being propagated by misuse of antimicrobial
medicines, inadequate or inexistent programmes for infection prevention and control (IPC),
poor-quality medicines, weak laboratory capacity, inadequate surveillance and insufficient
regulation of the use of antimicrobial medicines.
A strong, collaborative approach will be required to combat antimicrobial resistance, involving
countries in all regions and actors in many sectors. Over a 2-year period, from 2013 to
2014, WHO undertook an initial “country situation analysis” in order to determine the extent
to which effective practices and structures to address antimicrobial resistance were already
in place and where gaps remained. The survey was conducted in countries in each of the six
WHO regions.

PDF here


Diet swap experiment reveals junk food’s harm to gut

A two-week diet swap experiment hints at just how damaging a Western diet might be to our guts.

Researchers asked people to switch diets for two weeks – 20 US volunteers moved to a low-fat, high-fibre diet while 20 volunteers from rural Africa were asked to eat more “junk” food.

Although the swap was brief, its impact was visible, Nature Communication says.

The Americans benefited from less bowel inflammation, while the African volunteers’ bowel health deteriorated.

It is not possible to make any firm conclusions based on such a small study, say experts.

But the findings do support the belief that modern Western diets – which are high in fat and sugar and low in fibre – are bad for us.


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Leukemia Under the Lens, 1845

Alfred Donné’s microscopic daguerreotypes described the cellular symptoms of leukemia for the first time.


In 1837, over the objections of skeptical colleagues, Alfred François Donné set up 20 microscopes at his own expense in the lecture hall of the Medical Faculty of Paris. There, he provided practical microscopy lessons to students. His goal was to make microscopy a standard part of medical practice, an aim he had already championed with the invention of a foldable pocket microscope.

When Louis Daguerre presented his brand-new photographic technique in 1839, Donné leapt at the chance to modify it to capture his microscopic images to spice up his lectures to ever-growing audiences. Donné’s adoption of such cutting-edge technology established him as a pioneer in the use of photographs—rather than hand-drawn sketches—to communicate scientific discoveries.


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Ebola drug cures monkeys infected with West African virus strain

An experimental drug has cured monkeys infected with the Ebola virus, US-based scientists have said.

The treatment, known as TKM-Ebola-Guinea, targets the Makona strain of the virus, which caused the current deadly outbreak in West Africa.

All three monkeys receiving the treatment were healthy when the trial ended after 28 days; three untreated monkeys died within nine days.

Scientists cautioned that the drug’s efficacy has not been proven in humans.


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New Genetic Tests for Breast Cancer Hold Promise

A Silicon Valley start-up with some big-name backers is threatening to upend genetic screening for breast andovarian cancer by offering a test on a sample of saliva that is so inexpensive that most women could get it.

At the same time, the nation’s two largest clinical laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, normally bitter rivals, are joining with French researchers to pool their data to better interpret mutations in the two mainbreast cancer risk genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Other companies and laboratories are being invited to join the effort, called BRCA Share.

Full story on NYT

Athlete’s foot drug may be MS therapy

Two common drugs – one used for treating athlete’s foot and another for alleviating eczema – may be useful therapies for multiple sclerosis, scientists believe.

In early animal studies, the medicines repaired some of the cell damage and paralysis seen in MS.

The drugs encouraged new growth of myelin to coat and protect the nerves.

Experts say although the results in Nature journal are promising, people should not be tempted to self-medicate.

Much more work is needed to check that the treatments will work in people.

Lab tests on human cells already hint that they might.

The two drugs in question – an antifungal called miconazole and a steroid called clobetasol – are currently topical medicines that are applied as creams to the skin.

They already have a good safety history for treating these conditions, says lead researcher Dr Paul Tesar, from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in the US.

He says the formulation of the drugs would need to be changed so that they could be better targeted to the nervous system where MS strikes.


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Dementia ‘halted in mice brains’

The team at Duke University, in the US, showed immune cells which start attacking nutrients in the brain may be a trigger for the disease.

They say their findings could open up new avenues of research for a field that has not developed a single drug to slow the progression of the disease.

Experts said the findings offered new hope of a treatment.

The researchers indentified microglia – normally the first line of defence against infection in the brain – as major players in the development of dementia.

They found some microglia changed to become exceptionally adept at breaking down a component of protein, an amino acid called arginine, in the early stages of the disease.


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From Many, One

Diverse mammals, including humans, have been found to carry distinct genomes in their cells. What does such genetic chimerism mean for health and disease?


In 1976, researchers from the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine in London published the puzzling case of a woman who had two different blood types: 93 percent of her red cells were type O, while the remaining 7 percent were type A1, the most common type A subgroup.1 A few years later, Winifred Watkins of the MRC Clinical Research Centre and colleagues came across another blood donor with two distinct red blood cell types, and further investigation led to an even more astonishing finding: a phenotypically normal man, with presumably XY cells in his testes and most of his body, was found to carry XX cells in his skin and other tissues.2

These case studies heralded a new appreciation for the phenomenon of genetic chimerism—when an individual carries two or more genetically distinct cell lines in different parts of her body. Until the advent of techniques for blood typing and karyotyping cells, genetic chimeras where thought to be very rare. They only came to light when the phenotypes associated with the two distinct genomes were so discordant that the resulting individual was clearly exceptional, with patches of distinct skin coloration throughout the body, for example, or hermaphroditic genitals. In reality, genetic chimeras may be quite common, disguised in perfectly normal bodies harboring genetically distinct cell lineages.

While most fictional works portray chime­ras as an amalgam of two individuals, the truth is that the individ­uality of the distinct cell lines is lost as the two combine.

In all likelihood, most chimeras are not even aware of their condition. Boston resident Karen Keegan, for example, would have never discovered her mixed genetic makeup if in 1998, at age 52, she hadn’t needed a kidney transplant. When doctors tested the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) type of her three children to see if any of them could donate a kidney, they were surprised to find that two of the children could not have been hers at all: while all three carried one HLA copy that matched their father’s, only one child carried a second copy that matched Karen’s. Of course, having given birth to these children, she knew they were hers. Sure enough, while Karen had one cell line only in her blood, the doctors eventually found the “missing” HLA type in a second cell line in her skin, hair, bladder, mouth mucosa, and thyroid.3


Full Story-TheScientist

Dogs trained to detect prostate cancer with more than 90% accuracy

The ability of two German shepherds to identify the most common form of cancer in British men has sparked hopes of finding a practical application

Dog from Medical Detection Dogs
Claire Guest, co-founder of UK charity Medical Detection Dogs, said its own research had found a 93% reliability rate when detecting bladder and prostate cancer. Photograph: Emma Jeffery/Medical Detection Dogs/PA

Hopes that man’s best friend can help medics detect prostate cancer have been boosted by research suggesting that trained German shepherd dogs can sniff out the chemicals linked to the disease from urine samples with remarkable accuracy.

The reliability rate reported by an Italy-based team in the Journal of Urology comes from the latest of several studies stretching back decades and raises the prospect of canines’ sense of smell helping doctors identify a number of human cancers and infectious diseases.

The two female dogs sniffed urine samples from 900 men, 360 with prostate cancer and 540 without. Both animals were right in well over 90% of cases


Full Story-The Guardian