Tagsautism biodefense biotechnology blogging computers diving dovdox blog drinking entomology environment epidemiology film fishing flu Food fun hack ham radio health hobbies humor hype journalism links microbiology mosquitoes new york open access photography politics public health public policy research news science science policy science publishing technology tools twiv vaccine vaccines virology viruses web development writing
Yes, I’m on Twitter
Tag Archives: microbiology
The first time I met the genus Pseudomonas, I was a brand-new graduate student doing a rotation in David Figurski’s lab at Columbia University. Dave works on “promiscuous” plasmids that can move to many different species of bacteria. These plasmids … Continue reading
I love it when my interests intersect, so this new report from researchers in Italy and Belgium, on the microbiota of sourdough breads, definitely caught my attention. As the authors explain: This study aimed at the identification of the [lactic … Continue reading
Coral reefs are in a tight spot these days. Increasing CO2 levels and rising ocean temperatures aren’t doing them much good, but their biggest problems are more direct. Overfishing is wiping out important predators, the aquarium trade picks off whatever … Continue reading
Favorite comment below this YouTube video: the one dubbing it “Soylent Brown.” Best moment in the video: 1:32 – look at the label on the refrigerator. Comforting thought: if McDonald’s adopts this, it will be an upgrade.
In a paper appearing right now in Nature Methods, researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farm campus describe a new type of microscopy that’s just chock full of awesomeness. By shooting a special pulsating light source into the … Continue reading
Back in May, I blogged about a proposal to monitor dissolved methane levels in the Gulf of Mexico as a surrogate marker for oil. The idea was that the Deepwater Horizon blowout was spewing a mixture of oil and methane … Continue reading
Today is World Toilet Day. This is not a joke. In fact, it’s deadly serious. Follow the link for some sobering statistics about what inadequate plumbing means for billions of people.
Today is the United Nations’ first worldwide Hand Washing Day. Yes, it means exactly what it sounds like. As the BBC reports: “The message we are really trying to get out is the importance of correctly washing your hands with … Continue reading
In a new paper in PLoS Medicine, researchers have stumbled onto a promising “new” treatment for that resurgent scourge, tuberculosis:
“Rifapentine is back,” says Johns Hopkins infectious disease specialist Eric Nuermberger, M.D., whose studies in mice, to be published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine online Dec. 17, have found it so promising as an initial treatment for active TB that clinical trials are scheduled to begin next year in at least eight countries.
The mouse studies showed that substituting higher and daily doses of rifapentine for another antibiotic, rifampin, cured mice two to three times faster than the much older, standard regimen of drugs that includes rifampin. Researchers say if tests in people confirm the findings in mice, the average time to clear the potentially fatal bacterial infection could be reduced from six months to three or less.
Of course, that last “if” is a mighty big one. A longstanding saying in biomedical research is that mice lie and monkeys exaggerate. Still, this marks one of the few pieces of potentially good news in the ongoing fight against TB. Interestingly, rifapentine is a very old antibiotic that fell out of favor (and out of production) years ago, so the new work resurrects a forgotten antibiotic to treat a resurrected classical disease. If the strategy does pan out, we’ll just have to hope that rifapentine won’t fall into the same cycle of lax control, overprescription, and general misuse that’s made so many other antibiotics fail.
Among the deluge of press releases I see each day, there are inevitably a few odd ones. This news from computer technology maker ATEN, however, was exceptionally odd. It seems they’ve developed a new line of antibacterially-coated KVM switches. A KVM switch, as if you didn’t know, is the switch the über-geeks who administer server farms use to switch a single keyboard, video monitor, and mouse between multiple computers. And why does the world need antibacterial KVM switches? The PR flack at ATEN is glad you asked:
The average desk harbors 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat, and some of the most germ-contaminated items include the keyboard and mouse, according to a study conducted by the University of Arizona. Despite this fact, network administrators rarely have time to clean their desktops which can lead to the spread of bacteria in the data center. As a result, the presence of microbes contributes to the spread of pneumonia, the flu, pink eye and strep throat, among other extremely contagious viruses.
“We have designed these groundbreaking and nanocoated enterprise KVM switches to serve the needs of network administrators who operate in ‘clean room’ environments such as hospitals, laboratories, manufacturing facilities and others,” said Sampson Yang, CEO, ATEN Technology, Inc. “Beyond these specific environments, product protective antimicrobial nanocoating can benefit data centers and multi-user environments, as well as server rooms within libraries, schools or government facilities where protection is critical.”
Can you count the factual errors and logical fallacies in the above two paragraphs? I see at least five, maybe six, but I’ll close with a nod to one of my biggest pet peeves. All together now, chant it with me: Bacteria Are Not Viruses. Continue reading