April 16th, 2014
Penicillin, one of the scientific marvels of the 20th century, is currently losing a lot of battles it once won against bacterial infections. But scientists at the University of South Carolina have just reported a new approach to restoring its combat effectiveness, even against so-called “superbugs.”
Bacteria have been chipping away at the power of the penicillin family of drugs since their first wide-scale use as antibiotics in the 1940s. For example, the staph infection, brought about by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, was once readily treated with penicillin and its molecular cousins.
But that bug has changed. In the 1960s, a new strain arrived, termed MRSA for methicillin- (or sometimes multidrug-) resistant S. aureus. It has become a serious public health problem because the earliest deployed antibiotics are often useless against the new strain, and its prevalence has only increased since it was first observed. MRSA (pronounced mer-suh) is sometimes called a superbug because of the difficulty physicians have in treating infected patients.
April 16th, 2014
Two new studies describe the latest achievements in growing body parts in a lab and transplanting them into people, this time with nostrils and vaginas.
Windpipes, bladders, blood vessels and other structures have previously been created in part from a patient’s own cells and then implanted. Eventually, scientists hope to tackle more complicated things like lungs and kidneys with this strategy, which is aimed at avoiding rejection of transplanted organs.
The latest experiments were published online in the journal Lancet.
April 16th, 2014
Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center is the first hospital in the nation to conduct an MRI scan of a patient implanted with a new MRI-compatible pacemaker – a breakthrough because metal implants often exclude patients from this imaging because of the strong magnetic force.
Cardiothoracic surgeon Raymond Schaerf, MD, implanted the Accent MRI™ Pacemaker and Tendril MRI™ Lead in Karolyi Fenyvesi, 82, of Burbank, who last week successfully underwent magnetic resonance imaging.
Led by Dr. Schaerf, Providence Saint Joseph in Burbank was part a global clinical study to help determine if a patient can safely and effectively undergo a full-body, high-resolution MRI scan with the Accent MRI system.
April 14th, 2014
The complexity of biology can befuddle even the most sophisticated light microscopes. Biological samples bend light in unpredictable ways, returning difficult-to-interpret information to the microscope and distorting the resulting image. New imaging technology developed at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute‘s Janelia Farm Research Campus rapidly corrects for these distortions and sharpens high-resolution images over large volumes of tissue.
The approach, a form of adaptive optics, works in tissues that do not scatter light, making it well suited to imaging the transparent bodies of zebrafish and the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, important model organisms in biological research. Janelia group leader Eric Betzig says his team developed the new technology by combining adaptive optics strategies that astronomers and ophthalmologists use to cancel out similar distortions in their images.
In a report published in the journal Nature Methods, Betzig, postdoctoral fellow Kai Wang, and their colleagues show how the technique brings into focus the fine, branching structures and subcellular organelles of nerve cells deep in the living brain of a zebrafish. These structures remain blurry and indistinct under the same microscope without adaptive optics. “The results are pretty eye-popping,” Betzig says. “This really takes the application of adaptive optics to microscopy to a completely different level.”