Ebola exposes chinks in our techno-optimistic armor

If you’re a bio-nerd like me, you’ve known about Ebola for a very long time. You knew it was trouble from the get-go and wondered how it would unfold should it get widespread. Well, now we know. But as things have unfolded, I see three things that I feel expose our techno-optimism for what it is: […]

Ego play: My Erdős–Bacon number is 7, sort of

Paul Erdős was the most prolific publisher of mathematics papers (more than Euler). Much like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, mathematicians have an number to connect mathematicians to Erdős, as measured by paper co-authorship networks. It’s called the Erdős Number. I suppose, to be a purist, these connections should be via mathematical papers, but there’s a […]

The Impact of a Consortium of Fermented Milk Strains on the Gut Microbiome of Gnotobiotic Mice and Monozygotic Twins

“The results also showed that (i) consumption of an FMP containing five bacterial strains was not associated with a statistically significant change in the proportional representation of resident community members within and between individuals; (ii) the appearance and disappearance of strains comprising the FMP consortium did not exhibit familial patterns in the fecal microbiota; and […]

Bacterial genomics: A new source of antimicrobial targets : Nature Reviews Microbiology

“Bacterial clone-based genome sequencing frequently results in gaps, which harbour hypothetical genes of unknown function. Sorek and colleagues show that these gaps contain a vast array of genes encoding proteins that are toxic to the sequencing host (Escherichia coli), including previously uncharacterized restriction enzymes, toxin–antitoxin systems and non-coding RNAs.” Of course, to me, this is […]

A Method for Generation Phage Cocktail with Great Therapeutic Potential – PLoS ONE

“Bacteriophage could be an alternative to conventional antibiotic therapy against multidrug-resistant bacteria. However, the emergence of resistant variants after phage treatment limited its therapeutic application. Our data showed that the phage cocktail was more effective in reducing bacterial mutation frequency and in the rescue of murine bacteremia than monophage suggesting that phage cocktail established by […]

Macro and Micro Diversity of Clostridium difficile Isolates from Diverse Sources and Geographical Locations – PLoS ONE

“Clostridium difficile has emerged rapidly as the leading cause of antibiotic-associated diarrheal disease, with the temporal and geographical appearance of dominant PCR ribotypes. We have undertaken a breadth genotyping study using multilocus sequence typing (MLST) analysis of 385 C. difficile strains from diverse sources by host (human, animal and food), geographical locations (North America, Europe […]

Crowd-Sourcing Drug Discovery

“The first challenge that OSDD’s cyber-community assigned itself was to glean more information from the M. tuberculosis genome. It was sequenced in 1998, but researchers had clues to the functions of only a quarter of its 4000 genes. In December 2009, OSDD set out to reannotate all possible genes. Some 500 volunteers got the job […]

Vaccine development: Man vs MRSA : Nature News

“For decades, Robert Daum has studied the havoc wreaked by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Now he thinks he can stop it for good.” Excellent story of the fight against MRSA by the guy who first made us aware of it.   Read this article… Image from Nature