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Scientists Warn Mutating “Superbugs” Resistant To Alcohol Disinfectants #science #virus #diseases

Multidrug-resistant “superbugs” that can cause dangerous infections in hospitals are becoming increasingly resistant to alcohol-based hand sanitizers and disinfectants designed to hold them at bay, scientists said.

In a study of what the researchers described as a “new wave of superbugs”, the team also found specific genetic changes over 20 years in vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus, or VRE – and were able to track and show its growing resistance.

Their findings were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

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VRE bugs can cause urinary tract, wound and bloodstream infections that are notoriously difficult to treat, mainly because they are resistant to several classes of antibiotics.

In efforts to tackle the rise of hospital superbugs such as VRE and MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, institutions worldwide have adopted stringent hygiene steps – often involving hand rubs and washes that contain alcohol.

Tim Stinear, a microbiologist at Australia’s Doherty Institute who co-led the study, said that in Australia alone, use of the alcohol-based hand hygiene has increased tenfold over the past 20 years. “So we are using a lot and the environment is changing,” he said.

Yet while rates of MRSA and other infections have stabilised due to heightened hygiene, Stinear said, VRE infection rates have not. This prompted his team to investigate the VRE bug for potential resistance to disinfectant alcohols.

They screened 139 isolated bacterial samples collected between 1997 and 2015 from two hospitals in Melbourne and studied how well each one survived when exposed to diluted isopropyl alcohol.

They found that samples collected after 2009 were on average more resistant to the alcohol compared with bacteria taken from before 2004.

The scientists then spread the bacteria onto the floors of mouse cages and found that the alcohol-resistant samples were more likely to get into, and grow in the guts of the mice after the cages were cleaned with isopropyl alcohol wipes.

Paul Johnson, a professor of infectious diseases at Austin Health in Australia who also co-led the study, said the findings should not prompt any dramatic change in the use of alcohol-based disinfectants.

“Alcohol-based hand rubs are international pillars of hospital infection control and remain highly effective in reducing transmission of other hospital superbugs, particularly MRSA,” he said.

Stinear said health authorities should try higher-alcohol concentrate products and renew efforts to ensure hospitals are deep cleaned and patients found to be carrying VRE infections are isolated.

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On the brighter side of medical science, virtually everyone knows someone with heart disease of some sort. Now, thanks to modern medical scientific breakthroughs, heart disease may be a thing of the past, literally outpatient surgery and cured.

This is not fake news, this is real medical science.

Early one Saturday morning in March 2015, Boston Children’s hospital got a call from a hospital in Maine.

Doctors there wanted to transfer to Boston Children’s a newborn baby boy whose heart had been deprived of oxygen during surgery to fix a congenital defect with an experimental treatment created by Dr. Sitaram Emani and Dr James McCully of New England Deaconess Hospital.

The baby was on an ECMO but his heart had not recovered.

“We turned the intensive care unit into an operating room,” Emani said.

He snipped a tiny piece of muscle from the baby’s abdomen. McCully grabbed it and raced down the hall.

In his previous research working with pigs, McCully took a plug of abdominal muscle the size of a pencil eraser, whirled it in a blender to break the cells apart, added some enzymes to dissolve cell proteins, and spun the mix in a centrifuge to isolate the mitochondria.

He recovered between 10 billion and 30 billion mitochondria, and injected 1 billion directly into the injured heart cells.

To his surprise, the mitochondria moved like magnets to the proper places in the cells and began supplying energy. The pig hearts recovered.

Now, with a real, live baby’s life on the line, he was back into surgery with a test tube of the precious mitochondria. Emani used an echocardiogram to determine where to inject them for the experimental treatment.

“The spot that is weakest is where we want to go,” he said. “It is important to give as much of a boost as you can.”

He injected 1 billion mitochondria, in about a quarter of a teaspoon of fluid.

Within two days, the baby had a normal heart, strong and beating quickly. “It was amazing,” Emani said.

The scientists have now treated 11 babies with mitochondria, and all but one were able to come off ECMO, Emani said. Still, three of them ultimately died, which Emani attributes to a delay in treatment and other causes.

Two died because their hearts were still so damaged, and one died of an infection. All of the more recent patients survived and are doing well.

In comparison, the death rate among a similar group of babies that did not get mitochondrial transplants was 65 percent. And none of the untreated babies recovered any of their heart function — more than a third of the survivors ended up on heart transplant lists.

In comparison, the death rate among a similar group of babies that did not get mitochondrial transplants was 65 percent. And none of the untreated babies recovered any of their heart function — more than a third of the survivors ended up on heart transplant lists.

More recently, Emani and his colleagues have discovered that they can infuse mitochondria into a blood vessel feeding the heart, instead of directly into the damaged muscle. Somehow the organelles will gravitate almost magically to the injured cells that need them and take up residence. 2

He and his colleagues are persuaded that these transplants work, but acknowledge that it would take a randomized trial to prove it.

But what about adult heart patients?

Researchers are hoping that mitochondrial transplants also can repair heart muscle damaged during heart attacks in adults. And finding enough of those patients should not be an issue, said Dr. Peter Smith, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Duke University.

Already researchers are planning such a trial. The plan is to infuse mitochondria or a placebo solution into the coronary arteries of people having bypass surgery or — an even more dire situation for the heart — having both bypass and valve surgery.

The patients would be those whose hearts are so damaged that it would be difficult to wean them from heart-lung machines after surgery. For these desperate patients, mitochondrial transplants “are a really intriguing option,” Smith said. 3

“The likelihood is very high” that the study will begin next year, said Annetine Gelijns, a biostatistician at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

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James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
August 1st, 2018

 

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