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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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  • by Ostracus (1354233) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @03:42PM (#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.

  • Re:Respect (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bertie (87778) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @04:05PM (#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.

  • Great news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bertie (87778) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @04:08PM (#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.

  • Re:phage medicine. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JDevers (83155) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @04:36PM (#26865575)

    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 of millions before being rendered worthless. This allows a lot of that past knowledge to be reused.

  • Re:phage medicine. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by schwillis (1073082) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @04:36PM (#26865579)
    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 Repton (60818) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @05:09PM (#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.

  • Biofilms (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Guppy (12314) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @06:07PM (#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.

  • by retchdog (1319261) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @06:46PM (#26866627) Journal

    Fortunately, patents expire in seventeen years so there's no loss here!

  • Alright, I'll bite.

    An unstated argument here is that people distributing medicine and those who don't take their full course are somehow at fault.

    Erm, that's because it is their fault. Nothing unstated about it. When getting antibiotics, the vast majority of people get either the full course or nothing at all - there's no in-between. If you choose not to take the full course after receiving it, it's your fault.

    Of course there are plenty of people who can't get the drugs at all - but that's not germane to this conversation as such people are not contributing to drug-resistant bacteria.

    Does it really make moral sense that farm animals are over treated and people end up with half treatments?

    It must be fun building up so many straw men. That's the only reason I can figure that you have for doing it so often.

    Do you think that people really want to have less than proper medicine?

    Yes. As is evidenced by the fact that so many people think that because the "feel fine now" they don't have to finish their course of meds.

  • Re:Tartar control (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RichiH (749257) on Monday February 16, 2009 @05:58AM (#26870675) Homepage

    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.

"Ignorance is the soil in which belief in miracles grows." -- Robert G. Ingersoll

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