Beating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria – a Breakthrough

Gram-negative bacteria such as those responsible for salmonella, meningitis, heliobacter, legionella, gonorrhea, and cholera cause debilitating diseases and death in people who become infected.

Legionella Pneumophila

Legionella Pneumophila

Worryingly, these bacteria are building ever stronger defenses against our stocks of antibiotic drugs. At some stage, they will become totally resistant to our existing drugs. When this happens, we will enter a nightmarish world in which minor cuts and infections could quickly become fatal.

Gram-negative bacteria have a lipopolysaccharide outer coating whose impermeability assists the bugs in fending off attacks from antibiotics. You could think of this coating as full body-armor.

This coating is called LPS, consisting of lipid A, core polysaccharide, and O antigen. It has been growing increasingly impermeable as bugs follow an evolutionary pathway to defeat our antibiotics. The armor is getting very strong.

The journal Nature has reported that medical researchers from the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School in the United Kingdom have found a way to block the pathway the bacteria use to put this outer coating together. One of the lead researchers commented:

‘This is a giant leap forward in the fight against superbugs. This discovery doesn’t come a moment too soon.’

Researchers have discovered that a protein called LptDE is vital in building the bacteria’s LPS outer coating of armor. They are excited by the fact that the same mechanism is used in all gram-negative bacteria.

This means, if you can find a way to disrupt the LPS outer coating being built in one type of gram-negative bacteria, it should work in all such bacteria.

The preferred method of disruption is to find a drug molecule smaller than the LptDE protein that builds the coating. Importantly, this drug molecule would not need to get inside a bacterial cell to disrupt the building of the cell coating.

The weakened cell coating would allow bugs to be attacked more easily both by our immune cell and antibiotic drugs.

Another aspect that makes the work so vital is that it offers a method which can potentially overcome the new strains of superbugs which are causing serious problems in many hospitals. Too many patients are getting ill in the hospitals where they are meant to get better.

Health experts have said that within a decade or two, routine surgical operations could lead to a large number of deaths, because of widespread, untreatable infections. It would be a return to the days when there were no antibiotics and life was something of a lottery.

The work on disrupting the LPS coating is at an early stage, but it’s encouraging that a viable route has now been identified so that we can continue taking the fight to our microscopic enemies.


What is the Multiverse Theory?

In the world of physics, there are many theories and ideas floating around about the world and the universe we live in. Among the many theories floating around that usually gets a lot of discussion and attention is the multiverse or the meta-universe theory. For folks that have an interest in physics and the possibilities of worlds other than the one we have now, this is one theory that bears pondering.

What Is It?

What is the Multiverse Theory?

The multiverse theory is what experts call the hypothetical set of finite or infinite possible universes, counting the historical universe that people regularly experience. These finite or infinite possible universes compromise everything that exists and everything that can come into existence such as:

•  Space

•  Energy

•  Time

•  Matter

It also takes into account the constants and the physical laws that describe those mentioned previously. These universes contained within the multiverse are what people sometimes call “parallel universes.”

What are These Parallel Universes?

These parallel universes, also called “braneworlds” by some, hover just beyond your reach. According to experts from top colleges like Princeton University and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada, this idea stems from the possibility that there are so many more dimensions to the world than just those of the space and time that people know of. In addition to the 3-dimensional “brane” that people live in and experience, there are other 3-dimensional branes that exist in a higher dimension of space.

Brian Greene, a physicist from Columbia University, states that the notion of the universe as one of just numerous other universes floating around in a space is much like imagining a slice of bread that is floating in a cosmic loaf. Another wrinkle to the theory is that some experts say these brane universes aren’t parallel at all but they sometimes slam into each other and cause Big Bangs that reset colliding universes again and again.

The idea of different worlds and dimensions floating around might seem hokey to some and as of yet, the multiverse theory is just that, a theory. However, it isn’t just some random idea that people came up with because it has some solid physics to back it up. Another interesting idea to ponder is that there are numerous ways to get a multiverse. There are tons of other physics theories that point to the fact that there are multiple universes out there, and some experts believe that chances are high that hidden universes actually exist.