science chemistry medicine antibiotics drug_resistance bacteria innovators public_health
New “Incredibly Potent” Antibiotic Made By Altering Workhorse Medicine

by Michael Keller

An antibiotic whose effectiveness has been on the wane in recent years after bacteria started developing resistance to it might get a new lease on life thanks to some serious chemistry work. 

Vancomycin, an antibiotic derived from a soil-dwelling bacterium originally found in Borneo, has been used to treat a range of bacterial infections over the last 56 years. It works by latching onto bacterial cell walls and preventing them from sealing closed. This leaves the microbes leaky and unable to survive. The drug has been used successfully to treat infections by bacteria that had developed resistance to other antibiotics.

But since at least the late 1980s, several types of bacteria have been evolving defenses against the drug. All that it takes for the microorganism to develop resistance is an alteration in a single amino acid in the cell wall for the drug to be much less successful at binding to it. That alteration has shown up in several bacterial species within the genera Enterococcus and Staphylococcus, two common sources of debilitating or fatal infections around the world.

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Txch This Week: Impossible Planets And Sci-Fi Floating Cities

by Norman Rozenberg

This week on Txchnologist, we got up close and personal with some of the tiniest innovations making huge splashes in the world of science. First, Julia Greer and her Caltech research team has made leaps in the world of nanoscale materials. Using direct laser writing, the team is creating complex microscopic architecture that can be tuned to specific needs by engineers.

Scientists in the Netherlands have designed flat shapes that fold into all kinds of tiny 3-D structures with a drop of water. In addition to cool party tricks, these sand granule-sized pieces of silicon have potentially important uses in medicine.

Genetic engineers looking for better ways to make biofuels have designed bacteria to convert complex carbohydrates found in non food plants directly into ethanol. With rising oil prices across the globe and increasing carbon emissions, a new source of fuel is not only important but necessary. This development may have just steered us into the fast lane.

It’s no secret that advances are moving fast throughout medicine. Now, a Swiss team has taken things a step further and designed medical implants that could potentially last a lifetime using diamond-like carbon coatings and the rare, nonreactive metal tantalum. Meanwhile, Indian Institute of Science engineers are using wasp physiology to design new surgical tools. A species of wasp may be the next muse for less invasive tools that will help recovery times and outcomes.

Now we’re bringing you the news we’ve been following this week in the world of science, technology and innovation.

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Green Tea Leaves Make Antibacterial Coatings

by Karin Heineman, Inside Science TV

The second most popular beverage in the world, after water, is believed to be tea.

There are different kinds of tea, but green tea carries with it a slew of promised health benefits. And now, scientists have made a new discovery within a simple cup of green tea.

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Killer Eyes: Naturally Antibiotic Protein Stops Infections

by Marsha Lewis, Inside Science TV

They are known as the window to the soul, each a different color, size and shape. But could your eyes also fight infections?

For years optometrists have been trying to figure out why the human eye is resistant to infection.

“What we know is people virtually never get corneal infections unless they’re a contact lens wearer or unless they have very severe injury to the cornea,” said Suzanne Fleiszig, an optometrist at the University of California, Berkeley.

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