Why a warming world is costing you precious hours of sleep
Nick Obradovich couldn’t fall asleep, again. And now he was getting grumpy. It was October 2015, and San Diego was experiencing historically warm fall temperatures in the mid-70s. The normally cool and dry city logged its three warmest October nights…
Neglected 80-year-old Antibiotic Reemerges as Highly-Effective Against Resistant Bacteria
A discarded 80-year-old antibiotic may provide protection against multi-drug resistant superbugs, according to a new study.
Discovered back in the 1940s, nourseothricin is a natural product made by a soil fungus that contains several forms of a complex molecule called streptothricin.
It generated high hopes of becoming a powerful agent against gram-negative bacteria, which, due to their thick outer protective layer, are especially hard to kill with other antibiotics.
But nourseothricin proved toxic to human kidneys, and its development was dropped.
However, the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections has triggered a search for new antibiotics, which led Professor James Kirby and his colleagues at Harvard Medical School to take another look at nourseothricin.
Dr. Kirby said in his study on the compound that early tests of nourseothricin suffered from incomplete purification of the streptothricins.
More recent work has shown that the multiple forms have different toxicities with one, streptothricin-F, being significantly less toxic while remaining highly active against contemporary multidrug-resistant pathogens.
Dr. Kirby and his team characterized the antibacterial action, renal (i.e. kidney) toxicity, and mechanism of action of highly purified forms of two different streptothricins, D and F.
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He said the D form was more powerful than the F form against drug-resistant Enterobacterales and other bacterial species but caused renal toxicity at a lower dose.
“Based on unique, promising activity, we believe the streptothricin scaffold deserves further pre-clinical exploration as a potential therapeutic for the treatment of multidrug-resistant, Gram-negative pathogens,” said Dr. Kirby.
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“Isolated in 1942, streptothricin was the first antibiotic discovered with potent gram-negative activity.”
“We find that not only is its activity potent, but that it is highly active against the hardiest contemporary multidrug-resistant pathogens and works by a unique mechanism to inhibition protein synthesis.”
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Volcanic microbe eats CO2 ‘astonishingly quickly’, say scientists
A microbe discovered in a volcanic hot spring gobbles up carbon dioxide “astonishingly quickly”, according to the scientists who found it. The researchers hope to utilise microbes that have naturally evolved to absorb CO2 as an efficient way of removing…
Harvard professor’s fossil fuel links under scrutiny over climate grant
An eminent Harvard environmental law professor’s links to the fossil fuel industry are under scrutiny from colleagues and students after she was awarded a prestigious research grant to investigate corporate climate pledges. Jody Freeman, founding director of Harvard’s environmental and…
Meat, dairy and rice production will bust 1.5C climate target, shows study
Emissions from the food system alone will drive the world past 1.5C of global heating, unless high-methane foods are tackled. Climate-heating emissions from food production, dominated by meat, dairy and rice, will by themselves break the key international target of…
In An Unusual Step, a Top Medical Journal Weighs in on Climate Change – InsideClimate News
For years, research journals devoted to the earth sciences have warned of the dire consequences that could result from global warming and pollution going unchecked. Now, one of the nation’s oldest medical journals has committed itself to increasing the public’s…
Harvard awards $1.3M to fund climate change solutions – Harvard Gazette
Harvard faculty and students are advancing solutions to climate change and its wide-ranging impacts through new scientific, technological, legal, behavioral, public health, policy, and artistic innovations. Ten research teams will share $1.3 million in the eighth round of the Climate…
Solving a natural riddle of water filtration
(University of Texas at Austin) An international, interdisciplinary team of researchers that includes engineers from The University of Austin has found a way to replicate a natural process that moves water between cells, with a goal of improving how we filter out salt and other elements and molecules to create clean water while consuming less energy.
As plant/animal diversity wanes, is microbial life changing too? A perilously ‘profound ignorance’
(Terry Collins Assoc) The downward trajectory of plant and animal diversity constitutes a key issue of the Anthropocene. Whether diversity is changing also in the world of microbes is unknown, however — a “profound ignorance” — because the importance of these microorganisms maintain Earth’s habitability. A paper published today frames the rate of change of microbial biodiversity as an important question on which progress is possible.
New complex recognized as one of the world’s healthiest lab buildings
New lab complex will help Harvard progress toward its Sustainability Plan and achieve its goals to be fossil fuel-neutral by 2026 and fossil fuel-free by 2050.