NEW POLL: BLINDNESS FEARED MORE THAN LOSS OF OTHER SENSES, STRONGLY SUPPORT MORE FUNDING FOR RESEARCH
From FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 18-Sep-2014
Source Newsroom: Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO)
Newswise — Washington, D.C.—According to a new poll, Americans across racial and ethnic groups describe losing eyesight as potentially having the greatest impact on their day-to-day life — more so than other conditions, including loss of memory, hearing and speech. A higher percentage of African-Americans (57%) cite this concern compared to non-Hispanic whites (49%), Asians (43%) and Hispanics (38%).
Blindness ranked among the top four “worst things that could happen to you” for all respondents, alongside cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and HIV/AIDS. More African-Americans cited blindness as their top fear.
The poll generated another key finding: A large majority of respondents strongly consider research to improve the prevention and treatment of vision disorders a priority (83% of African-Americans and non-Hispanic whites, 80% of Asians and 79% of Hispanics).
When told that the federal government spends on average $2.10 per person each year on such research, half of African-Americans (51%) and Hispanics (50%) say this is not enough followed by non-Hispanic whites (47%) and Asian-Americans (35%).
About half of all groups believe that non-governmental sectors — industry, patient groups and philanthropies — should also increase funding for eye and vision research (57% of Hispanics, 51% of African-Americans, 49% of Asians and 47% of non-Hispanic whites).
These and other findings are from a national public opinion poll commissioned by Research!America and the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR). The poll, which was carried out by Zogby Analytics, was funded by a grant from Research to Prevent Blindness and released at a National Press Club event in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18.
Leaders from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) played a role in both the development of the poll and the release event, which featured a panel discussion with Neil Bressler, MD (Wilmer Eye Institute), Paul Sieving, MD, PhD (National Eye Institute), James Tsai, MD (New York Eye and Ear Infirmary) and Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD (Ohio State University College of Optometry). The panel discussion was moderated by Michelle Miller of CBS News.
The Association for Research and Vision in Ophthalmology (ARVO) is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world. Members include nearly 12,000 eye and vision researchers from over 75 countries. ARVO advances research worldwide into understanding the visual system and preventing, treating and curing its disorders.
SCRIPPS RESEARCH INSTITUTE CHEMISTS MODIFY ANTIBIOTIC TO VANQUISH RESISTANT BACTERIA
From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 17-Sep-2014
Source: Scripps Research Institute Citations Journal of the American Chemical Society
Professor Dale Boger (right) and Assistant Professor Akinori Okano led the research.
Newswise — LA JOLLA, CA—September 17, 2014—Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have devised a new antibiotic based on vancomycin that is powerfully effective against vancomycin-resistant strains of MRSA and other disease-causing bacteria.
The new vancomycin analog appears to have not one but two distinct mechanisms of anti-microbial action, against which bacteria probably cannot evolve resistance quickly.
“This is the prototype of analogues that once introduced will still be in clinical use a generation or maybe even two generations from now,” said Dale L. Boger, the Richard and Alice Cramer Professor of Chemistry at TSRI.
The report by Boger and members of his laboratory was published recently online ahead of print by the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Increasing Reports of Resistance
Vancomycin entered clinical use in 1958, five years after its isolation from microbes in a soil sample gathered by an American missionary in Borneo. For nearly six decades it has been useful against a wide range of bacteria, and it remains a standard weapon against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a major cause of hospital-acquired infections. A compound closely related to vancomycin also has been widely used to protect livestock.
Since the late 1980s, there have been increasing reports of vancomycin resistance in classes of bacteria that usually succumb to the antibiotic, including MRSA. Although vancomycin remains useful, scientists have been looking for new drugs to replace it in cases—often life-threatening—where it no longer can help patients.
The Boger laboratory has focused on inventing improved versions of vancomycin rather than entirely new compounds. “Vancomycin has lasted in clinical use for more than 50 years, in part because it isn’t very vulnerable to antibiotic resistance,” Boger said. “Our thought has been that if we find a vancomycin analog that addresses this current source of resistance we’ll get another 50 years of use out of it.”
Vancomycin works by binding to the building blocks of bacterial cell walls, in a way that prevents their proper assembly and leaves bacteria too leaky to live and replicate. The resistance comes from a single amino-acid alteration that some bacteria make to those building blocks, so that the antibiotic molecule can no longer get a firm grip. That drops vancomycin’s potency by a factor of about 1,000.
In 2012, Boger and his team reported making a vancomycin analog—informally termed vancomycin amidine—with a subtly altered binding pocket that fastens about equally well to the original and resistant sites on bacterial cell wall subunits. To get the precise structural modification they needed, they had to come up with a method for the “total synthesis” of this vancomycin-based compound—a controlled, step-by-step construction using organic chemistry reactions in the lab, rather than a natural enzyme-mediated production within cells.
“Years of work in this lab culminated in a total synthesis strategy that not only allowed us access to this target compound, but also gave us the ability to perform almost any other chemical modification of vancomycin that we wished,” said Akinori Okano, first author of the new report, who is an assistant professor of chemistry at TSRI.
Vancomycin amidine turned out to have acceptable level of activity against vancomycin-resistant and -sensitive bacteria, yet there was room for improvement. Thus in the new study, Okano, Boger and their colleagues used their vancomycin synthesis methods to add an additional feature to the molecule—a peripheral chlorobiphenyl (CBP), long known as a general booster of vancomycin’s potency.
“To our delight, the combination of these modifications led to an incredibly potent molecule, well beyond anything we had expected,” said Okano.
In lab dish tests, the new vancomycin analog proved highly effective against the usual vancomycin-sensitive bacteria as well as vancomycin-resistant MRSA and enterococcal bacteria.
The tests also suggested that the CBP modification, whose boost to potency has been thought to come from some broad enhancement of vancomycin’s activity, might in fact work via its own distinct attack on bacterial cell wall synthesis.
“This is probably the clearest depiction to date of the fact that for the CBP derivatives there must be a second mechanism of action, independent of vancomycin’s main mechanism of action,” Boger said. “[Such analogs] are likely to display especially durable antibiotic activity—that is, they won’t be prone to rapidly acquired clinical resistance.”
Boger and his colleagues now will try to optimize the synthesis process for the new analog, to provide quantities suitable for preclinical testing in animals.
Other co-authors of the paper, “Total Synthesis of [Ψ[C(=NH)NH]Tpg4] Vancomycin and its (4-Chlorobiphenyl) methyl Derivative: Impact of Peripheral Modifications on Vancomycin Analogs Redesigned for Dual D-Ala-D-Ala and D-Ala-D-Lac Binding,” were Atsushi Nakayama and Alex Schammel of the Boger Laboratory.
The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grant CA041101).
About The Scripps Research Institute
The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is one of the world’s largest independent, not-for-profit organizations focusing on research in the biomedical sciences. TSRI is internationally recognized for its contributions to science and health, including its role in laying the foundation for new treatments for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, and other diseases. An institution that evolved from the Scripps Metabolic Clinic founded by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps in 1924, the institute now employs about 3,000 people on its campuses in La Jolla, CA, and Jupiter, FL, where its renowned scientists—including three Nobel laureates—work toward their next discoveries. The institute’s graduate program, which awards PhD degrees in biology and chemistry, ranks among the top ten of its kind in the nation.
ENTOMOLOGIST SAYS EXPECT MORE SPIDERS INSIDE AS WEATHER TURNS COOLER
From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 16-Sep-2014
Source Newsroom: Kansas State University
I always keep a clean jam jar and a sheet of paper ready to collect invading spider and let them out at the window.
Newswise — MANHATTAN, Kansas — This is the time of year when the Kansas State University entomology department receives a lot of calls. The question most asked: Why am I getting so many spiders in my house?
“Insects move inside the house seeking warmer temperatures,” said Jeff Whitworth, assistant professor of entomology. “Just like humans, insects prefer a climate around 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Spiders are seeking those warmers environments as well as searching for food.”
Tennessee medical officials have reported an increase in brown recluse bites this year. However, Whitworth says there is no indication there are more spiders this year compared to previous years. The brown recluse, most common in the central and southeast regions, is the most feared spider in the Midwest because of its hemotoxic venom. But Whitworth says the brown recluse isn’t as scary as you think.
“The nice thing about the brown recluse spider, as its name implies, is it is reclusive,” he said. “We have reared spiders now for approximately two to three years and we have found the brown recluse to be non-aggressive.”
Whitworth; Holly Schwarting, research associate in entomology; and J.R. Ewing, master’s student in entomology, are researching the most reliable method of managing brown recluse spiders. Pest control operators are divided on whether sticky traps, pesticide or a combination of the two are a better way to kill spiders in your home.
Whichever form of removal you choose to use, Whitworth says to wait until March. Brown recluse spiders become inactive from mid-October until March.
Back tomorrw. Jeanne