Vinegar kills tuberculosis and other mycobacteria
The active ingredient in vinegar, acetic acid, can effectively kill mycobacteria, even highly drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis, an international team of researchers from Venezuela, France, and the US reports in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.
Acetic acid might be used as an inexpensive and non-toxic disinfectant against drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) bacteria as well as other stubborn, disinfectant-resistant mycobacteria.
Work with drug-resistant tuberculosis bacteria carries serious biohazard risks. Chlorine bleach is often used to disinfect TB cultures and clinical samples, but bleach is toxic and corrosive. Other effective commercial disinfectants can be too expensive for TB labs in the resource-poor countries where the majority of TB occurs.
“Mycobacteria are known to cause tuberculosis and leprosy, but non-TB mycobacteria are common in the environment, even in tap water, and are resistant to commonly used disinfectants. When they contaminate the sites of surgery or cosmetic procedures, they cause serious infections. Innately resistant to most antibiotics, they require months of therapy and can leave deforming scars.” says Howard Takiff, senior author on the study and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics at the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Investigation (IVIC) in Caracas.
California high school to test students for tuberculosis
Some 1,800 students and staff at a southern California high school are to be screened for tuberculosis on Friday, after one pupil was diagnosed with the disease and dozens more may have been infected, health officials said.
The mandatory medical screening at Indio High School about 135 miles outside Los Angeles comes after 45 students out of 131 who were screened for the illness this week tested positive for possible exposure.
The numbers of those potentially infected were higher than expected, but the “the likelihood of the illness being passed from one person to the next is remote,” said Cameron Kaiser, a Riverside County health official who ordered the expanded school-wide testing.
TB Vaccine May Work Against Multiple Sclerosis
A vaccine normally used to thwart the respiratory illness tuberculosis also might help prevent the development of multiple sclerosis, a disease of the central nervous system, a new study suggests.
In people who had a first episode of symptoms that indicated they might develop multiple sclerosis (MS), an injection of the tuberculosis vaccine lowered the odds of developing MS, Italian researchers report.
“It is possible that a safe, handy and cheap approach will be available immediately following the first [episode of symptoms suggesting MS],” said study lead author Dr. Giovanni Ristori, of the Center for Experimental Neurological Therapies at Sant’Andrea Hospital in Rome.
But, the study authors cautioned that much more research is needed before the tuberculosis vaccine could possibly be used against multiple sclerosis.
Tuberculosis: Nature has a double-duty antibiotic up her sleeve
Technology has made it possible to synthesize increasingly targeted drugs. But scientists still have much to learn from Mother Nature. Pyridomycin, a substance produced by non-pathogenic soil bacteria, has been found to be a potent antibiotic against a related strain of bacteria that cause tuberculosis. The EPFL scientists who discovered this unexpected property now have a better understanding of how the molecule functions. Its complex three-dimensional structure allows it to act simultaneously on two parts of a key enzyme in the tuberculosis bacillus, and in doing so, dramatically reduce the risk that the bacteria will develop multiple resistances. The researchers, along with their colleagues at ETH Zurich, have published their results in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.
Stewart Cole, director of EPFL’s Global Health Institute, led a team that discovered the anti-tuberculosis effect of pyridomycin in 2012. By inhibiting the action of the “InhA” enzyme, pyridomycin literally caused the thick lipid membrane of the bacterium to burst. Now the scientists understand how the molecule does this job.
Dual anti-mutation ability
The tuberculosis bacillus needs the InhA enzyme along with what scientists refer to as a “co-factor,” which activates the enzyme, in order to manufacture its membrane. The scientists discovered that pyridomycin binds with the co-factor, neutralizing it.
Potential vaccine readies immune system to kill tuberculosis in mice
A potential vaccine against tuberculosis has been found to completely eliminate tuberculosis bacteria from infected tissues in some mice. The vaccine was created with a strain of bacteria that, due to the absence of a few genes, are unable to avoid its host’s first-line immune response. Once this first-line defense has been activated, it triggers the more specific immune response that can protect against future infections.
The research, by scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Colorado State University, appears in the September 4, 2011, issue of Nature Medicine.
Tuberculosis, an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is a global health concern, accounting for 2-3 million deaths annually. One third of the world’s population is infected with the bacterium, and according to the World Health Organization, new infections occur at a rate of about one per second. Most people who are infected don’t get sick, because the immune system keeps the bacteria under control. However, people whose immune systems are weakened, such as those with HIV/AIDS, are highly susceptible to the active form of the infection. With staggering rates of HIV infection in some parts of the world, such as Africa, co-infection with TB is a serious problem. To make matters worse, some strains of M. tuberculosis have become resistant to every drug currently used to treat tuberculosis.
“We’re back to where we were before there were drugs for TB,” says William R. Jacobs, Jr., an HHMI investigator at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
UK immigrant screening misses most latent TB: study
British tuberculosis screening for new immigrants fails to detect most imported cases of latent disease and screening should be widened to include more people from the Indian subcontinent, scientists said on Thursday.
Britain has recently been dubbed “the tuberculosis (TB) capital of Europe” and is the only country in Western Europe with rising rates of disease.
Current British border policies require immigrants from countries with a TB incidence higher than 40 per 100,000 people to have a chest X-ray on arrival to check for active TB.
Genetic signature may lead to better TB diagnosis
Scientists have found a “genetic signature” in the blood of patients with active tuberculosis (TB) and believe their discovery could help develop better diagnostic tests for the disease, as well as better treatments.
More than 2 billion people, or a third of the world’s population, are estimated to be infected with the organism Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB), which causes TB, but the vast majority have the infection in latent form and have no symptoms.
The British scientists said they had now found a pattern of genes in the blood that is specific to up to 10 percent of those 2 billion people who develop active TB in their lungs.
African mining may be driving TB epidemic: study
Poor living and working conditions for miners of gold, diamonds and other precious metals have contributed significantly to tuberculosis (TB) epidemics across Africa, scientists said on Tuesday.
Researchers from Britain and the United States said their study suggested that crowded living and working conditions, dust in mines, and the spread of HIV mean Africa’s mining industry may figure in up to 760,000 new cases of TB each year.
Men travelling from afar to work in mines, such as from Botswana to South Africa, are at the greatest risk of getting TB, the researchers wrote in a study published in the American Journal of Public Health.