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Medicine Science

Sea Sponge Extract Conquers Resistant Bacteria 132

Posted by kdawson
from the soaking-it-in dept.
Science News has an article on research into a compound found in a particular kind of sea sponge that seems to have the ability to restore antibiotics' effectiveness against resistant bacteria. The hope is that, since the compound is not itself deadly or even harmful to bacteria, it may skew the antibiotic-bacteria arms race in our favor. "Chemical analyses of the sponge's chemical defense factory pointed to a compound called algeferin. Biofilms, communities of bacteria notoriously resistant to antibiotics, dissolved when treated with fragments of the algeferin molecule. And new biofilms did not form. So far, the algeferin offshoot has, in the lab, successfully treated bacteria that cause whooping cough, ear infections, septicemia and food poisoning. The compound also works on... [MRSA] infections, which wreak havoc in hospitals. 'We have yet to find one that doesn't work,' says [one of the researchers]."
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Sea Sponge Extract Conquers Resistant Bacteria

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  • I hope the researchers take care with this and treat it with respect.

    The last thing we need is for golden staph to be in the presence of this algeferin outside the therapeutic window and modify itself accordingly. GS is bad enough already, the last thing we (humans) want is for it modify itself off some oceanic super goo.

    • We cant kill it as-is anyway, so kudos to this guys and keep it comming!

      • by MrNaz (730548) *

        Well in addition to that I hope that this teaches us to respect the Earth's natural resources, the subtle ones as well as the bubbling black and shiny gold ones that we currently fight over like a bunch of heavily armed 5 year olds.

    • by rfuilrez (1213562)

      And the problem of perpetuating a bacterial-resistance arms race, in which bacteria rapidly develop countermeasures against new antibiotics, may be avoided entirely with the new compound. "Since the substance is nontoxic to the bacterium, its not throwing up any red flags," says Moeller.

      Other than "doing something really funky that were excited about," researchers dont yet know how this compound interferes with bacterial resistance to antibiotics, says Moeller. The compound may sneak by bacterias sensors that trigger new ways to combat antibiotics. Bacteria continually treated with this compound for three months are still susceptible to antibiotics.

      It would appear that bacteria don't modify itself? Obviously the research is still early, but hopefully this is a remedy to the situation that lasts for quite some time.

      • Re:Respect (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bertie (87778) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @05:05PM (#26865429)

        Yeah, they probably thought the bacteria would never come up with an answer to penicillin either.

        They've been around an awfully long time, and there's a reason for that: nothing's beaten them yet. Our attempt at suppressing them has been thwarted in just a few decades - not even a blink of an eye on a biological timescale.

        I wouldn't be crowing about having the little blighters licked just yet.

        • Re:Respect (Score:5, Interesting)

          by thermian (1267986) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @05:45PM (#26865623)

          Yeah, they probably thought the bacteria would never come up with an answer to penicillin either.

          Actually it didn't. Instead what happened was antibiotics were handed out like candy and people weren't made to complete their courses.

          If you stop taking antibiotics before the whole course is complete, any remaining bacteria are those which have some resistance (but in the beginning not enough to survive a completed course). Multiply this by the millions of people who didn't complete their courses over the decades, and you have trouble.

          • Re:Respect (Score:5, Informative)

            by Puff of Logic (895805) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @06:35PM (#26865967)
            All true. However the antibiotic usage in humans is vastly outweighed by the antibiotic usage in livestock. One of my med-school courses cited an instance in...Denmark, I believe it was. The annual human consumption of an antibiotic came to something like 25kg that year. Consumption of an analogous antibiotic in livestock for that same year was something on the order of 25,000kg. Over-prescription of antibiotics for CYA or, more commonly, to patients who aren't satisfied until they've receive an antibiotic for their viral (sigh) infection is certainly a problem. Before we get too worked up over that, however, let's stop feeding the drugs to the damned cows, pigs, and chickens!
            • by hercubus (755805)

              good point. some soil scientists found resistant bacteria in the soil of farms just a few months after a particular antibiotic was released for farm use

              and, oh yeah, antibiotics are approved for animal use years before they're approved for human use (in the USA). so by they time a new antibiotic is prescribed to humans its useful life has already been shortened

              bacteria have about done me in several times already. we all have to go sometime but it gripes me that it'll be the greed of the cow people,

          • by Perf (14203)

            Instead what happened was antibiotics were handed out like candy and people weren't made to complete their courses.

            If you stop taking antibiotics before the whole course is complete, any remaining bacteria are those which have some resistance (but in the beginning not enough to survive a completed course). Multiply this by the millions of people who didn't complete their courses over the decades, and you have trouble.

            20 years ago, the medical authorities proscribed 2 weeks worth of antibiotics. Later, it dropped to 10 days. Now, a 4 day proscription is normal.

            Why?
            I don't get it. It seems to conflict with what you just described.

            • by bipbop (1144919)
              This is anecdotal and perhaps not particularly interesting, but the last three times I've had antibiotics I was given ten days worth. I am in California FYI. And, I do not know the answer to your question, but I am interested.
            • In response to people's behavior(failure to take complete course) new types of antibiotics were developed, which my doctor calls "front loading." This means you take the antibiotic for four days, but it maintains effective levels in your body for perhaps the next 10. You can typically read all kinds of information that comes packaged with your prescription, such as describes serum levels per dose vs. time, warning signs for allergic reactions, serous side effects, etc.
            • Instead what happened was antibiotics were handed out like candy and people weren't made to complete their courses.

              If you stop taking antibiotics before the whole course is complete, any remaining bacteria are those which have some resistance (but in the beginning not enough to survive a completed course). Multiply this by the millions of people who didn't complete their courses over the decades, and you have trouble.

              20 years ago, the medical authorities proscribed 2 weeks worth of antibiotics. Later, it dropped to 10 days. Now, a 4 day proscription is normal.

              Why? I don't get it. It seems to conflict with what you just described.

              Good question. I've just been assuming that "they" are just getting better at making more effective antibiotics.

            • by Perf (14203)

              FWIW, my mother does medical transcription and tells me a 4 day dose is the norm nowadays.

        • by T Murphy (1054674)
          One thing I've always wondered is how bacteria's limited genetic code relates to antibiotics. Do the bacteria actively resist the antibiotics (implying there would be a point where we have more antibiotics than bacteria can have resistant genes for), or do the antibiotics actively take advantage of a 'glitch' in the bacteria genes (implying that it will be an endless war)? Am I even asking the right questions?
          • Everything in life can be a glitch from a certain point of view, no life form is "perfect".

            Antibiotics act on the differences(chemical, structural, signal-pathways, etc.) between bacteria and human/animal cells. As long as differences exist, it will be hypothetically possible on a very abstract level to produce antibiotics, but that's assuming we can engineer increasingly complex custom molecules...or find new species to plunder. ;)
          • Re:Respect (Score:4, Informative)

            by Niedi (1335165) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @07:42PM (#26866573)

            Both exist. Bacteria can evade antibiotics in many ways, some active, some passive.

            The easiest way to actively evade antibiotics is by developing efflux pumps which will pump out a certain drug or class of drugs (Tetracycline, beta-lactame).

            The easiest way to passively evade antibiotics is through modification of the drug target which is a rare thing but can happen since bacteria are quite prone to mutations and also multiply like mad.

            The thing that completely stupefies me is how that stuff is supposed to do away with resistances... Maybe it makes them barf their plasmids but still, I have no idea how that is supposed to work. Especially since some plasmids come with their own simple but effective measures against it.
            That option would be pretty easy to verify though.

            • by HiThere (15173)

              What it sounds like it's supposed to do is digest the compounds that the bacteria secrete to allow films of them to enclose a surface or an area. Like the surface of your teeth (to pick perhaps the most common example for people to be aware of). Once they can't stick together, they can't exchange signals that say, e.g., how numerous they are. Bacterial action frequently changes drastically when the population density increases. Also, if the film is dissolved, then they will have a harder time sticking t

        • Unless it kills 100% of the bacteria, we're back to square one. The ones that don't get killed (natural mutation or just more resistant) will multiply and the new strain will be immune. That's the way evolution works...
      • by sjames (1099)

        It might, but so far it looks like they tested with only algeferin in the culture, so naturally it didn't apply any selective pressure. Once mixed with an antibiotic so that the combination actually does apply selective pressure, who knows?

        We can hope that whatever the algeferin does can't be worked around but we just don't know yet.

      • by digitig (1056110)

        It would appear that bacteria don't modify itself? Obviously the research is still early, but hopefully this is a remedy to the situation that lasts for quite some time.

        Do bacteria "modify themselves" anyway? I thought the mechanism was that the bacteria that the technique is least effective on are the ones most likely to pass those characteristics to the next genration. If they've found a way to stop evolution working, this is news!

    • Re:Respect (Score:4, Interesting)

      by liquidpele (663430) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @04:56PM (#26865385) Journal
      As much as I'd like to see that, I doubt it will happen. There are too many doctors who prescribe antibiotics or everything. My wife had one prescribe one for her when she has the *flu*... I'm more worried about some jackass company patenting the compound.
      • Re:Respect (Score:5, Funny)

        by wamerocity (1106155) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @04:58PM (#26865399) Journal
        Well I propose that we do with it what we did with penicillin in the 50's, and infuse it into livestock feed, thereby ending the battle against bacteria forever. FOREVER!
        • by kilodelta (843627)
          I'd be interested to see how many of the bacteria it actually kills. If it eliminates all the bacteria then there's very little chance mutation can arise to work against it.

          But you're right, the overuse of antibiotics got us in the mess we're in today.
      • by Joce640k (829181)

        Those doctors should be struck off for doing so.

        Can people buy antibiotics over the counter in the USA? That's when the real problems start...

        • by sleigher (961421)
          No you cannot. At least not that I am aware of. You can buy lots of anti-bacterial products though.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by shrimppesto (766285)

            Many of those anti-bacterial products actually do not contain antibiotics. Instead, they contain compounds that are germicidal and kill everything they touch.

            The difference is critical. Antibiotics are compounds that selectively kill bacteria, causing less harm to human cells. They must therefore target some unique aspect of bacterial biology in their killing action; the specificity to which such targeting must take place is the reason why it's so easy for a bacteria to develop antibiotic resistance.

      • by mr_walrus (410770)

        depending on his exam and her chest sounds, perhaps the antibiotic
        prescription was a preventative to avoid her slipping into a
        pneumonia condition from that flu. the prophylactic use of antibiotics
        is fairly normal.

    • Salmonella (Score:5, Informative)

      by vuo (156163) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @05:07PM (#26865441) Homepage
      It would be perfect against salmonella. Salmonella is extremely hazardous to public health, because it can reside dormant in the intestinal biofilm for practically indefinite periods (up to 25 years), and the carrier remains infectious all the time. A single bacterium can cause a potentially fatal illness, so in some jurisdictions, anyone who works with food is tested for salmonella. Unfortunately the only way to positively remove salmonella from a carrier is ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic generally considered an antibiotic of last resort. Its serious, potentially disabling side-effects include permanent damage of peripheral nerves, the intestine and spontaneous tendon rupture. A way to dissolve the bacteria from the biofilm would probably make them easier to eradicate with less dangerous antibiotics.
      • Re:Salmonella (Score:5, Informative)

        by ColdWetDog (752185) * on Sunday February 15, 2009 @05:20PM (#26865515) Homepage

        A way to dissolve the bacteria from the biofilm would probably make them easier to eradicate with less dangerous antibiotics.

        Except for the very likely problem of when you dissolve biofilms, you create Yet Another Problem. OK, so somebody has found a novel compound that screws up bacterial metabolism. Let me, just of a moment, pop into cynic mode:

        We have lots and lots of chemicals, simple and complex, that trash biofilms. And bacteria. Generic bleach at high concentrations comes to mind. Of course, you don't want to stick that in your veins.

        The hard part is coming up with something you can put inside a human being (or test eukaryote of your choice, be it politician, lawyer or c. eleagans) and have it kill the bacteria and not the host.

        /end cynic mode. Carry on.

      • Re:Salmonella (Score:4, Interesting)

        by shrimppesto (766285) on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:19AM (#26868811)

        It's probably not quite fair to call ciprofloxacin an antibiotic of last resort, considering how widely it has been used for the past decade or so. Its side effects are indeed serious and debilitating; however, these side effects are also extraordinarily rare, which explains why ciprofloxacin has been prescribed for everything from UTIs to sinusitis without half the population rupturing their tendons.

        This is not to say that such side effects should be ignored, but rather that they should be considered in the analysis of risk vs. benefit. Owing to their rarity, it is quite often the case that the benefits far outweigh the risks.

        Overused? Yes, definitely, no doubt about it. But there are still many scenarios under which ciprofloxacin use can be justified, and many scenarios in which it is still the #1 drug of choice.

    • If it can kill MRSA that has already entered a person then it is good enough for right now. There will always be more ways to kill it in the future, but we still need help now.
    • by Monkier (607445) *

      I think you left out a word:

      Good thing we're not *done* destroying our environment so discoveries like this can continue to be made.

  • by Ostracus (1354233) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @04:42PM (#26865331) Journal

    "Science News has an article on research into a compound found in a particular kind of sea sponge that seems to have the ability to restore antibiotics' effectiveness against resistant bacteria. The hope is that, since the compound is not itself deadly or even harmful to bacteria, it may skew the antibiotic-bacteria arms race in our favor. "

    Good thing we're not destroying our environment so discoveries like this can continue to be made.

    • Actually we are destroying it. If the fuel(biological) consumption remains at the same rate sea temperature are going to be higher(2 to 4 degree Celsius)that will destroy good amount of marine ecology.
  • "Yet" (Score:5, Funny)

    by StaticEngine (135635) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @04:43PM (#26865341) Homepage

    'We have yet to find one that doesn't work,' says [one of the researchers]."

    Oh, but when they do, then once again the vile bacteria will have the upper... psuedopod.

  • Yay! (Score:2, Funny)

    by iminplaya (723125)

    My hero [wikimedia.org]!

  • phage medicine. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by schwillis (1073082) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @05:04PM (#26865423)
    It's funny that phage medicine has been demostrated to be very effective to treat antibiotic resistant bacteria, yet it's never been adopted in western medicine. But something comes along that works in conjunction with anti biotics and it's hot stuff. Fucking pharmasutical companys.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bertie (87778)

      A quick scour of the web has thrown up some interesting reading on that topic. I never realised bacteriophages were used in medicine at all. Seems like the West's just forgotten about them. Thanks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vlm (69642)

      yet it's never been adopted in western medicine.

      Easy business model to "monetize" something out of a chemical plant... trademarks, patents, copyrights, trade secrets, all to protect the investment.

      How go you do this with "sponge juice"? I'm guessing they'd have to completely switch business models and try to run it like a fishery or fish canning factory or something?

      I would not expect the pharmaceutical industrial complex to rally around this new idea.

      It would be like if someone proved orange juice cures colds, or HFCS causes obesity, there's no way to

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by JDevers (83155)

        Oh, but there is plenty of money. The new chemical does NOT kill bacteria, it allows antibiotics to work better. There are already LOTS of chemicals like this (penicillinase inhibitors etc), just none that are nearly this promising and I assure you that a LOT of pharma dollars are spent trying to find new chemicals that allow antibiotics to work better. They would much rather sell medicine that is already developed than spending tens of millions developing something that will only return a few more tens

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by schwillis (1073082)
        They make money because this doesn't kill the bacteria, it disolves their biofilms and lowers their resistance to anti-biotics, so if they invest in harvesting and processing sea sponges for this substance, and trying to figure out how to synthesize it, they are profiting off the selling of the sea sponges, and an increase in sales of anti-biotics to follow up the treatment.
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      It's funny that phage medicine has been demostrated to be very effective to treat antibiotic resistant bacteria, yet it's never been adopted in western medicine. But something comes along that works in conjunction with anti biotics and it's hot stuff. Fucking pharmasutical companys.

      You're overselling phage therapies.
      My understanding is that phages are usually specific to a strain or two of [bacteria].

      This new compound is (so far) effective in sensitizing all bacteria.
      If you don't see the difference in value, then there's nothing I can say to convince you.

      • Re:phage medicine. (Score:5, Informative)

        by sjames (1099) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @08:59PM (#26867315) Homepage

        That's my understanding as well. It's typically necessary to culture the patient's infection and then try dozens of bacteriophages against it to find just the right one.

        Still, the technique does seem to have merit and should probably be in use now except that there's no way to monitize it and so it goes unresearched.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Jesus_666 (702802)
          One approach is to use multi-phage mixes. Even if every kind of phage only affects a few kinds of bacteria, a broad-spectrum approach covers many. I'm not sure whether bacteria can form a resistance against phages but a phage tratment could be a first step, followed by antibiotics to kill anything the phages don't manage to get.
      • by mr_walrus (410770)

        broad-spectrum not always good.

    • antibiotics were heavily in use in the west while the east had to develop alternate methods of attacking bacteria. now that antibiotic resistance is becomming a major problem in the west, bacteriophages may be used more often on *surface ailments*. THe reason being that the body's immune system attacks the phages when used internally.

    • by compro01 (777531)

      As far as I understand, the problem with bacteriophages is that they're highly specialized. A specific phage virus only work against a few specific strains of bacteria, so you need to figure out exactly what strain of bacteria the person has before you can treat it, which can be difficult in many cases, whereas a broad spectrum antibiotic doesn't require that.

    • Re:phage medicine. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Guppy (12314) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @07:49PM (#26866649)

      It's funny that phage medicine has been demostrated to be very effective to treat antibiotic resistant bacteria, yet it's never been adopted in western medicine.

      Well, you have to consider the specific issues surrounding phage therapy as well. Two similar-looking strains of bacteria can have very different phage susceptibility profiles -- an issue similar with antibiotic resistance, but my impression is that a strain match is much more of an issue with phage therapy, as each one is like a extremely "narrow spectrum" antibiotic. This is both good and bad, as it avoids collateral damage to "friendly" bacteria, but requires considerable time and expertise to get the match right -- the expertise needed to effectively implement phage therapy effectively is pretty high.

      In an epidemic, you probably are looking at just one strain of bacteria going around, so is less of a problem (I have heard phage treatment works well versus something like, say, Cholera). However, for general cases, you end up needing to have a large library of phages on-hand (this is probably not an issue for centralized medical systems, but won't work well for an independent family doctor or suburban pharmacy). On the positive side, phages constantly co-evolve with their bacterial hosts, allowing you to overcome resistance by updating your library.

      A "cocktail" would allow you to dispense with needing a large library, or having to get as detailed a susceptibility profile each time. However, there is another problem, that this solution makes worse -- your immune reaction against the phages. Very quickly after your initial encounter with a phage, you will likely develop a response against it (and probably relatives of that phage too). So the long-term practicality of phage treatment is an issue too.

      • by RichiH (749257)

        > but won't work well for an independent family doctor or suburban pharmacy

        No idea about other countries, but German pharmacies get a delivery at least three times a day. Stockpiles of important stuff are distributed across the country. You will get anything _important_ within hours if you need to. And that is without driving to a hospital or something.

        Government regulation in important infrastructure is a good thing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by trenobus (730756)

      Phage therapy involves a lot of labor in isolating a non-symbiotic phage for a particular bacterial strain, and then growing enough of them to give the patient a dose that will not be negated by their immune system. To really be practical, this process would need to be automated.

      Phages are specific, which is a disadvantage economically, as another poster noted. But specificity is an advantage medically, as it means you don't need to wipe out all of the "good bacteria" along with the bad. This is particu

    • Phage therapy has shown itself to be a viable treatment option, especially in Russia and other former Soviet countries where research and development costs were sunk and paid for long ago by the communists. However, there are many drawbacks to phage therapy which can make their use difficult (and particularly so inside the body). First, phages are uniquely in tune with the bacteria they attack, meaning that each phage has to be selected based upon the type of bacteria that they target in the infection. Seco
  • Or the chickens and pigs.

    Good medicine is only for responsible races. I wonder what we'd actually do with a second chance. If we blow it, I'd be tempted to just deliberately poison the water. Oh, wait. . .

    -FL

  • Great news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bertie (87778) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @05:08PM (#26865451)

    Now can we be a bit more careful with it this time? No attempts to coat the planet in a thin layer of the stuff, please. The loss of the best weapons against disease we've ever found is not a fair price to pay for cheaper meat. Hopefully we've learned that lesson, although every time I see a doctor prescribe antibiotics just to get someone out of their surgery, I despair a little.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 15, 2009 @05:26PM (#26865537)

    Aa few years ago I sat outside the entry doors to an ICU where a relative was lying. I sat there for many days, and many hours.

    I observed every single nurse stop and scrub at the scrub station which was located near the ICU entry doors. I observed maybe
    one doctor out of thirty doctors scrub at the station. Most doctors walked right through the doors and did not scrub.

    You can draw your own conclusions about this, but it seems obvious that things weren't being done in a consistent manner,
    and I've been told by some European doctor buddies that this
    sort of lax behavior in matters of sterile procedures is NOT tolerated in German hospitals.

    So, magic bullets are great, but what we really need, in the US at least, is a change in the way the medical "profession" behaves. After what I saw with my own eyes, I can't say the conduct I observed was what I'd call professional, and it will be a cold day in hell before I allow myself to be admitted as a patient in the hospital at UNC-Chapel Hill.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      It sounds like your subject line isn't quite right: what you actually meant to say was "lack of enforcement of US hospital procedures are also to blame", since we can guess (by the nurses' behavior) that hospital policy is to scrub, it just wasn't being enforced.

    • I assume that by "scrub" you mean handwashing?

      You are correct that enforcement of standards is problematic in the US. You are also absolutely correct that it cannot be justified. However, the issue is not as superficial as it seems -- try washing your hands every 30 minutes for an entire day, and you will see for yourself the reason so many doctors are reluctant to do it.

      In better news, the advent of foam hand cleaners (which actually have been shown to have better disinfectant properties than soap

    • by RichiH (749257)

      You are right, this would not be tolerated, over here.

      Another thing which, thankfully, is different in Europe is that we don't put disinfectants into deodorants(!) and other crap. Way to build resistant strains. Hopefully, you keep them over there ;)

    • by renoX (11677)

      >> and I've been told by some European doctor buddies that this sort of lax behavior in matters of sterile procedures is NOT tolerated in German hospitals.

      Note that this doesn't apply everywhere in Europe: France has a high (compared to other European countries) number of illness caught in hospitals (unfortunately for me as I'm French).

  • Wrong name (Score:5, Informative)

    by MoellerPlesset2 (1419023) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @05:27PM (#26865543)
    The compound is called ageliferin.
  • Tartar control (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hyc (241590) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @05:28PM (#26865551) Homepage Journal

    I wonder if this stuff will dissolve dental biofilms. Would be cool to finally have a simple, 100% effective treatment that totally prevents plaque, gum disease, cavities... Tho I suppose if it's that good, the ADA will bury it.

    • Actually, Vitamin K2 might do the job. http://www.freetheanimal.com/root/2008/11/vitamin-k2-menatetrenone-mk-4.html [freetheanimal.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RichiH (749257)

      I hope you are kidding. If you are not, you are part of the problem. You accept that people will die because there is no treatment for X because you are too lazy to brush for two minutes? Way to go, buddy.

      And yes, _I_ am being serious.

  • Let me guess, to get more of it, we need to implant the sponges in little orphan girls?

  • by Repton (60818) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @06:09PM (#26865759) Homepage

    T+10 years: government bodies approve sea-sponge-enhanced antibiotics for use on humans.

    T+12 years: patients start telling their doctor: "My friend told me regular antibiotics don't work. I want sea-sponge antibiotics!

    T+17 years: sea-sponge resistent bacteria start to emerge because of patients not completing their courses.

  • and myself included.I have suffered with 2 MRSA infections in the past year.
    Hope they can get this to the public ASAP.

  • The subhead states "Bacteria treated with compound lose their resistance"

    My question is what is treated?

    If treated means "immersed in a strong bath of the compound for 2 weeks" then the compound may not be very practical. If treated means "a small dose included with the antibiotic" then the treatment is very practical.

    The fact that the article was not very specific suggests its not the latter.

  • ...they ARE sponges after all....
  • that it is not clear that intelligence is the best solution to the question as to how to best propagate life. We've spend generations understanding how bacteria help and harm us, and have created more and more intellectual defenses and offenses to protect us from their harmful effects. Nevertheless, their unintelligent brute force efforts have always bested our best efforts (or we have acted to undermine our own successes). We may think that we are the dominant form of life on this planet, but billions upo
    • They would beg to differ, except they can't beg since they aren't self-aware. I'll take my not so prolific yet sentient existence any day.

  • Biofilms (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Guppy (12314) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @07:07PM (#26866279)

    Ok, besides the mis-spelling of "ageliferin" (for those wondering why Google's not bringing up much)...

    This is pretty big, but it's not coming out of nowhere. I'm not too familiar with this particular compound, but it appears to be a bio-film breaker -- most (but not all) of which work by disrupting quorum sensing [wikipedia.org]. What's exciting about this particular example is both its potency and apparent non-toxicity.

    If suitable for use in humans, you can expect this to dramatically improvement treatment of various types of infections involving biofilm-forming bacteria -- you find these a lot in Cystic Fibrosis patients, immunocompromised patients, and various infections of catheters and implanted items and such.

  • I was once killing time outside a chemist in a shopping centre. In doing so I started reading a pamphlet advertising a new probiotic, as I figured they might be useful to me. However, as it turned out, the pamphlet went to great lengths to explain that any competent doctor would (successfully) treat a person with the flu with antibiotics. The idea of ingesting live organisms from a company that fails high school biology has me pretty worried to say the least.
  • I hereby unpatent adding algefarin to toothpaste to reduce bacterial films in plaque and tartar. hah - take that.
  • So, after the bacteria got a sponge bath, penicillin can kill them. Poor things. Taking a shower can be dangerous.
  • Whoa - This compound they are claiming all these properties for - algeferin - is apparently unknown to the Scientific Literature. What we are debating here is one poster at a regional conference by a graduate student, that shows a sponge extract inhibits a few types of bacteria in laboratory cultures.

  • w00t we can make plasmids now!
  • That's what nature has been doing forever (or for 6000 years, depending on your reliance on books). If you want to fight something that is always evolving, do it with something that evolves at least at the same rate.

    As we humans are limited in our evolution rate by inconvenient things like life span, we have to fight bacteria with something similar like... hum... virus that kill bacteria and are already extensively used in Eastern Europe and Asia?

  • OK, so what are we going to do? Rape the sea for sponges? Or let the pharamceutical co's use more oil for the production of a compound that IS destined to fail? carvalhao sort of has the right idea, but I think using potentially harmlful virus to attack bacteria is the wrong way to go. He/She is right about the changing aspect of it though. But, why not have something that is different every year and yet is essentially the same? When MRSA started making headlines I did some searching to find out more. I c
  • I searched for the words "bromoageliferin" and "biofilm" on Google Scholar to see the distribution of articles by year.

    1997, 1 article [www.csj.jp], Japan
    2007, 1 article [acs.org], US
    2008, 6 articles [google.com], US

    The anti-biofilm activity of this and other substances derived from sponges was discovered by Japanese researches. The application they were looking for was the prevention of biofouling in shipping, power stations cooling systems, etc.
    In 2007, the use of bromoageliferin analogues against antibiotic resistant strains was tested in

  • Off shore drilling and mining have caused a beneficial sea sponge to go extinct.

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