Research Digest

Lab notes: Finding the Achilles heel of drug-resistant superbugs

New research may help develop a new class of antibiotic helper drugs.

Growing antibiotic resistance is threatening the efficacy of health systems around the world and estimates show that in 2050 antibiotic resistance will cause 10 million deaths every year. However, scientists may have now found the weak spot of at least one drug-resistant superbug. Researchers ay the University of Copenhagen and Ross University School have developed a way to make multi-drug resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae susceptible to antibiotics again. Klebsiella pneumoniae is a bacterium that causes fatal lung and bloodstream infections.

The research team used genomics technology to measure the contributions of every gene of the bacterium to antibiotic resistance and identified several genes help the pathogen survive even when exposed to antibiotics like colistin. They then demonstrated that inactivation of one of these genes called dedA made colistin-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae completely sensitive to the antibiotic.

Similarly, they showed that inactivating similar genes in multi drug-resistant Escherichia coli, which can cause diarrhoea, urinary tract infections, severe anaemia and even kidney failure, restored susceptibility to beta-lactam antibiotics in the bacterium.

The research published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports opens up possibilities of using “helper” drugs along with antibiotics to overcome infections by drug-resistant superbugs. A class of drugs called β-lactamase inhibitors are, so far, the only such drugs currently in use. Increasing the efficacy of antibiotics with such helper drugs conceptualised by the new research could reduce the the chances of treatment failure and reduce doses of antibiotics with toxic side effects, the researchers said.

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Children's Day is not for children alone

It’s also a time for adults to revisit their childhood.

Most adults look at childhood wistfully, as a time when the biggest worry was a scraped knee, every adult was a source of chocolate and every fight lasted only till the next playtime. Since time immemorial, children seem to have nailed the art of being joyful, and adults can learn a thing or two about stress-free living from them. Now it’s that time of the year again when children are celebrated for...simply being children, and let it serve as a timely reminder for adults to board that imaginary time machine and revisit their childhood. If you’re unable to unbuckle yourself from your adult seat, here is some inspiration.

Start small, by doodling at the back page of your to-do diary as a throwback to that ancient school tradition. If you’re more confident, you could even start your own comic strip featuring people in your lives. You can caricaturise them or attribute them animal personalities for the sake of humour. Stuck in a boring meeting? Draw your boss with mouse ears or your coffee with radioactive powers. Just make sure you give your colleagues aliases.

Pull a prank, those not resulting in revenue losses of course. Prank calls, creeping up behind someone…pull them out from your memory and watch as everyone has a good laugh. Dress up a little quirky for work. It’s time you tried those colourful ties, or tastefully mismatched socks. Dress as your favourite cartoon characters someday – it’s as easy as choosing a ponytail-style, drawing a scar on your forehead or converting a bath towel into a cape. Even dinner can be full of childish fun. No, you don’t have to eat spinach if you don’t like it. Use the available cutlery and bust out your favourite tunes. Spoons and forks are good enough for any beat and for the rest, count on your voice to belt out any pitch. Better yet, stream the classic cartoons of your childhood instead of binge watching drama or news; they seem even funnier as an adult. If you prefer reading before bedtime, do a reread of your favourite childhood book(s). You’ll be surprised by their timeless wisdom.

A regular day has scope for childhood indulgences in every nook and cranny. While walking down a lane, challenge your friend to a non-stop game of hopscotch till the end of the tiled footpath. If you’re of a petite frame, insist on a ride in the trolley as you about picking items in the supermarket. Challenge your fellow gym goers and trainers to a hula hoop routine, and beat ‘em to it!

Children have an incredible ability to be completely immersed in the moment during play, and acting like one benefits adults too. Just count the moments of precious laughter you will have added to your day in the process. So, take time to indulge yourself and celebrate life with child-like abandon, as the video below shows.

Play

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