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Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Dual Research explains How Gut Bacteria can Protect against Harmful Invading Microbe

The researchers performed experiments in C. elegans worms infected with Salmonella bacteria. In this cross section of a worm, the rod-shaped microbes have invaded the animal's intestine, highlighted in purple. Credit: The Rockefeller University Source: Medical Express

Antibiotics have been saving millions of lives but the growing problem of antibiotic resistance now reflecting its downside; on the other side probiotics which are beneficial microorganisms which provides benefits of antibiotics avoiding any pitfalls. The mechanism of such probiotics is still poorly understood. A research that published in the journals Science and Immunology by researchers at The Rockefeller University pointed out the factual answer.

Their study explains how the enzymes produced by intestinal bacteria protect us from the gut worms and their harmful invasions. These findings together can open an opportunity to develop probiotics that can be used against harmful bacteria like Clostridium difficile.

Researchers in Science paper set out to investigate about the probiotic potential of Enterococcus faecium in the study model roundworm Caenorhabdis elegans. E. faecium has long been known to be a probiotic for livestock but their mode of action was still a smudge. In a series of experiments proved that E. faecium inhibits the harmful effects of infection by Salmonella typhimurium. It can able to grow but not causing tissue damage to the worms.

Additionally a protein called SagA produced by E. faecium is able to protect the worm and mice from Salmonella.

On the other paper of Science Immunology, researchers not only explained how E. faecium protected mice from S. typhimurium but also demonstrated how E. faecium prevented the pathogen to bypass the intestinall epithelium to attack other organs like Liver.

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Tuesday, 18 October 2016


Microorganisms sometimes form aggregation in which they attach to a surface and begin to grow into a colony. This colony formation is called a BIOFILM whereby cells stick to each other and sometimes, produce a matrix the microbes reside in. Biofilms can be found in several places such as, on our teeth, inside our digestive tract, as well as inside of medical equipment like catheters and not only on slimy rocks.

Normally, Biofilms are harmless, but when infections occur they can have devastating health consequences. This is because of the difficulty in observing them and treatment is not by anyway easy. A professor at University of California Merced’s School of Natural Sciences and the Health Sciences Research Institute, Clarissa Nobile, is working on that problem. She studies Candida albicans, a microbe that creates the biofilms that can result in yeast infections in and on the human body. While C. albicans is a normal resident of the human microbiome, it is capable of causing infection that range from mild to deadly. From a publication by Nobile and her research team they revealed that they have succeeded in visualizing biofilms inside the body using bioluminescent markers. "C. albicans infections can be really dangerous," explained Nobile. "They can form inside us on any mucosal surface, or on implanted medical devices like artificial heart valves, catheters or pacemakers. They are drug-resistant, making it extremely difficult to get rid of a biofilm inside the body. Right now, we can treat the symptoms, but we can't get rid of the biofilm unless we remove the medical device it has formed on."

Their publication describes how the biomarkers can detect the enzymes that degrade other proteins, called proteases. Those proteases are Sap5 (Candidapepsin-5) and Sap6 (Candidapepsin-6) and when they are either removed or destroyed, a biofilm does not form or forms improperly, thus preventing a stubborn infection. Nobile’s lab utilizes biochemical, genetic and microbiological tools to investigate the relationships between microbial species that are found in humans. While previous research usually stayed focused on a single microbe or pathogen, Nobile’s work aims to study the complex network of microorganisms and how they affect one another. Her lab also works in collaboration with her company, Biosynesis Inc. They are working on developing diagnostics that will make testing for problematic biolfilms formed by pathogenic microbes easier.
From the entrepreneurial side of it they hope their new technology can be used to identify other pathogens as well. "It's fun to work on the entrepreneurial side of this," Nobile commented. "This is a situation where the basic science translates into a real-world application." Nobile won a Pew Scholar Award last year; and she is the first UC Merced faculty member to win the prize. It provides four years of funding to new investigators that pursue high-risk, high-reward research that has the potential to lead to amazing advances in biology.

Sources: Phys (dot) org via University of California 

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Breast Microbiome: some Prevents while other Causes Cancer

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Its long been known hoe bacteria has been a common dweller on and within us, but bacteria that live in women’s breast tissue have equally important health effect according to a study that published recently in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. The results highlights about the bacteria that are present even in low amounts have dual responsibilities in breast cancer – either increasing risk in some or decreasing risk in others.

Epidemiology suggests that at least one in eight women in US is diagnosed with breast cancer but the origin still remains in vague. Often factors like age, genetic predisposition and some environmental challenges are implicated for the reason of cancer, but now bacteria can also be an added reason under environment factors. Earlier research has provided clues that breast-feeding can lower the risk of cancer and this may be because of breast milk that supports growth of some beneficial microorganisms.

Researchers hunted for bacterial DNA analyzed from breast tissue samples of 58women who were undergoing lumpectomies and mastectomies for either benign or cancerous tumours. They also included 23 healthy participants who were undergoing breast reductions or enhancements. Women who were at a risk of breast cancer have higher levels of Enterobacteriaceae, Bacillus, and Staphylococcus. On the other hand, women who were healthy have other types of bacteria, especially Lactococcus and Streptococcus.

So how these bacteria actually instigate cancer? Enterobacteriaceae and Staphylococcus are involved in DNA damage which is a known route for developing cancer; while other bacteria trigger inflammation. For now researchers are looking forward for animal studies to indentify the exact mechanism.


Monday, 10 October 2016

Poll: Science show is having increase importance among students

Virtual learning experience has been fascinating and has shown its growing importance among students, researchers and learners.  In this week poll we asked people about their habit of listening or following virtual science shows which includes podcasts, video lessons, interactive discussion shows, etc.

Here is the result:

(Click on the picture to enlarge)
In inclusion it must be said that most students prefer virtual learning and interactive science. What do you think? Please do share your comments in the comment box below.

The Poll Statistics can be found at (download link).



Bengt Westermark and colleagues have asserted that the cell line considered to be the most commonly used in brain cancer research is different from the original patient tumor from which it was derived. They were the first to establish the cell line almost 50 years ago. According to the authors, the publicly available cell line, which has been used in more than 1,700 publications, appears to be a type of glioma cell line, likely a glioblastoma, of unknown origin.
This particular case of mistaken identity, among others, shines a spotlight on misidentification or contamination of cell lines as a long-standing quality-control issue that imperils the reproducibility of scientific experiments and the overall field of translational research. In 1968, Westermark and his team established U87MG, a glioma cell line that has since been made available commercially in repositories, such as the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC). The authors suspect that U87MG is the most popular cell line created, with roughly 200 studies published in 2015 alone.
Using forensic and mitochondrial DNA profiling to trace U87MG's origin, Westermark and his colleague questions the authenticity of the cell line. This analysis revealed that the origin of the cell line is different from that of the original tumor, pointing to a potential cross-contamination. The researchers also looked at the genetic signature of U87MG, comparing its similarity to a large database of cancer cell lines. Results confirmed that the cells originated from the Central Nervous System (CNS).  These finding has brought to the forefront need to authenticate cell lines in order to produce more consistent scientific research. To address this important issue, authors call on the research community to move away from "classical" cell lines like U87MG in favor of verified glioma cell lines grown in proper conditions, which tend to be more representative of the tumor of origin.

Source: Science Translational Medicine


Many countries across Africa and Asia-Pacific may be vulnerable to Zika Virus  outbreaks, with India, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Nigeria, Vietnam, Pakistan, and Bangladesh expected to be at greatest risk of Zika virus transmission due to a combination of high travel volumes from Zika affected areas in the Americas, local presence of mosquitos capable of transmitting Zika virus, suitable climatic conditions, large populations and/or limited health resources, according to a new modelling study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
The authors says that identifying where and when populations would be most susceptible to local transmission of Zika virus could help inform public health decisions about the use of finite resources.
"An estimated 2.6 billion people live in areas of Africa and Asia-Pacific where the local mosquito species and suitable climatic conditions mean that local Zika virus transmission is theoretically possible. However, there are still many unknowns about the virus and how it spreads, including which local species of mosquito are most capable of transmitting the virus, and whether immunity exists in areas that have previously reported cases of Zika virus. The impact on populations will also depend heavily on the country's ability to diagnose and respond to a possible outbreak," says study author Dr Kamran Khan, St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Canada.

 "Warmer temperatures in the northern hemisphere (when mosquitos are more active) increase the risk of new outbreaks appearing outside of the Americas. The potential for epidemics to occur in parts of Africa and the Asia-Pacific region is particularly concerning given that the vast numbers of people who could be exposed to Zika virus are living in environments where health and human resources to prevent, detect, and respond to epidemics are limited. Our findings could offer valuable information to support time-sensitive public health decision-making at local, national, and international levels," he added.
In this study, the research team, which included scientists from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Oxford University (UK) and the University of Toronto (Canada), established the ecological niche for Zika virus in the Americas (where Zika virus transmission has been reported or where conditions are suitable). At the time of the analysis, local transmission of Zika virus had been confirmed in 40 countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean (at the time, no cases of local transmission had been reported in the USA). The researchers then gathered data on airline ticket sales from all 689 cities with one or more airports in the region travelling to Africa or Asia-Pacific over a whole year (Dec 2014 to Nov 2015).
The research team then modelled three different scenarios of seasonal suitability for mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus. The first, which modelled monthly suitability for dengue virus transmission, produced the most conservative geographic region of risk. The second also included areas with Aedes aeqypti occurrence and the third included both A. aeqypti and A. albopictus occurrence - these scenarios each increased the size of the region at risk.
In addition, the team mapped the monthly volume of travelers arriving into Africa and Asia-Pacific in order to identify countries at greatest risk of Zika virus importation across seasons. Health expenditure per capita was used as a proxy of a country's capacity to detect and effectively respond to a possible Zika virus outbreak.
Countries with large volumes of travellers arriving from Zika virus-affected areas of the Americas and large populations at risk include India (67422 travellers arriving per year; 1.2 billion residents in potential Zika transmission areas), China (238415 travellers; 242 million residents), Indonesia (13865 travellers; 197 million residents), the Philippines (35635 travellers; 70 million residents), and Thailand (29241 travellers; 59 million residents).
Of the countries with the largest at risk populations, the authors suggest that India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Nigeria, Vietnam, Pakistan, and Bangladesh might be most vulnerable to impact because of their limited per capita health resources.

While the analysis emphasises the potential for human infection via mosquitos, sexual transmission of Zika virus infection is now well documented. The authors say that travellers returning from affected areas would benefit from health education to prevent sexual transmission.
The authors note a number of limitations and assumptions. Firstly, understanding about the efficiency of A. albopictus to transmit Zika virus is still evolving and the study did not include other Aedes species such as A. africanus or A. Hensilli, which could prove capable vectors in particular regions. Importantly, the health consequences of imported Zika virus will depend on local ability to diagnose and respond to a possible outbreak, but will also depend on possible underlying levels of immunity to Zika virus. Although sporadic cases of Zika virus have been reported in both Africa and Asia-Pacific, the breadth and extent of previous infection with Zika virus remains unknown, and it is not known whether the current Asian strain of the virus (seen in the Americas) will affect individuals differently if they have previously been infected with the African strain.
Writing in a linked Comment, Dr Abraham Goorhuis and Professor Martin P Grobusch, Center of Tropical Medicine and Travel Medicine, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands say: "An important prerequisite for the occurrence of large-scale epidemics is the presence of an immunologically naive human population. This is a big unknown in the high-risk countries identified, because urgently needed reliable seroprevalence studies are in short supply. Bogoch and colleagues assume low levels of pre-existing immunity, which in their study translates into a worst-case scenario. This assumption might be true and therefore, vigilance is needed. A best-case scenario would be the existence of previously unknown widespread Zika virus immunity in Asia and Africa. Such immunity could potentially exist if Zika virus infections in the past were not diagnosed, either because they were asymptomatic or because symptomatic infections were misdiagnosed due to their clinical similarity to other (arboviral) tropical infectious diseases. The development of protective herd immunity at a young age would also protect pregnant women against foetal complications. Under such a scenario, the risk of large Zika virus epidemics in Asia and Africa would be low, despite the introduction of the virus by infected travellers."
(The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.)

Kamran Khan, The Lancet Infectious Diseases, doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(16)30270-5


Different factors play a role in the immune recovery of HIV patients. A study coordinated by a Spanish Research Institutes has found out that gut bacteria also play their role in the immune recovery.
Researchers from the University of Valencia (UV) have taken part in a study analysing the influence of gut bacteria on immune recovery in HIV-infected patients undergoing antiretroviral treatment (ART). They have discovered a correlation between immune recovery and the behaviour of a certain subset of gut bacteria in response to treatment. The findings identified that the behaviour appears to be both a consequence and a cause of recovery.
The implications of this finding are that new complementary therapies could be developed that target these bacteria to boost the efficiency of ART and prevent the complications associated with immune deficiency and chronic inflammation. 
"HIV patients suffer from persistent immune deficiencies and chronic intestinal inflammation caused, in part, by the very toxins released by the cells to fight off the HIV infection. In this study we have found that, in some patients, certain gut bacteria become activated during ART and begin to amass anti-inflammatory molecules", explains CSIC researcher Manuel Ferrer of the Catalysis Institute. The immune recovery of these "ART responders" is much better than that of their peers, the make-up and behaviour of whose gut bacteria does not lead to the same anti-inflammatory effect.
In the study, the researchers analysed the gut bacteria found in the faecal matter of healthy subjects and HIV patients undergoing different intensities of infection control and immune recovery. Specifically, they studied the activity levels of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract (the intestinal flora).
The results suggest a correlation between bacterial activity and immune response as a consequence of HIV and antiretroviral treatment. "The make-up and behaviour of the gut bacteria of HIV patients whose body responds adequately to antiretroviral are different to those who respond less well to treatment. It is possible that the reason why some subjects respond better to antiretroviral is because their immune system is predisposed to these beneficial, recovery-enabling bacteria," adds researcher Sergio Serrano-Villar at Hospital Ramón y Cajal.
In essence, gut bacteria appear to play a role in successful immune recovery in HIV-infected individuals. Antiretroviral treatments could therefore have a greater impact on HIV patients' health if combined with therapies that target this subset of bacteria. "The design of new probiotic foods could be an option, for instance" (Ferrer).

The results of the study, published in eBioMedicine journal, could help in the design of new therapies for the prevention of complications associated with immune-depression and chronic inflammation, such as diseases associated with ageing that appear earlier and more frequently in people with HIV. And in extension put credence to usage of probiotics for varying treatment. 

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