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  • unbearibull unbearibull May 24, 2010 10:43 AM Flag

    Pentagon to Troop-Killing Superbugs: Resistance is Futile

    Pentagon to Troop-Killing Superbugs: Resistance is Futile
    Submitted by admin on Mon, 05/24/2010 - 07:38

    A super-germ that’s become a lethal threat to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan may have met its match in a novel technique that kills entire bacterial colonies within hours.

    Today’s troops have a 9 in 10 chance of surviving their battle injuries. But wounds and amputation sites leave them vulnerable to infection, especially by Acinetobacter — an opportunistic pathogen nicknamed “Iraqibacter” for its prevalence in war-zone medical facilities. As Wired Magazine reported in 2007, the bacteria has infected at least 700 American troops since 2003, and killed at least 7 people exposed to it in military clinics.

    Iraqibacter was once treated with common, easy-to-access antibiotic drugs. But in the last few years, the bacteria have developed a powerful resistance to all but one medication, called Colistin, that’s got a bit of a nasty side effect: potentially fatal kidney damage.

    And since the illness afflicts relatively few people, Big Pharma companies aren’t exactly lining up to develop new drugs.

    But a Pentagon-funded research team at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, along with small biotech firm PolyMedix, are making rapid strides toward a new line of Iraqibacter treatments — and the medications could spur the development of antibiotics that can fend off other drug-resistant ailments.

    “We didn’t set out to create a mechanism that could be applied to other illnesses,” Dr. Gregory Tew, the UMass scientist behind the project, told Danger Room. “But it’s an impressive and exciting bonus that’s come of our work.”

    The scientists have already used the new type of antibiotics to effectively treat Staph infections, which kill thousands of Americans each year. Common antibiotics work by attaching to a specific molecule (like an enzyme) inside bacterial cells. With some minor adaptive changes, bacteria can alter their cell structure to prevent antibiotic binding, thereby becoming resistant to the drugs. Some infections even develop “persister cells,” which stop growing when the antibiotics are administered, and then turn back on once a round of meds is completed.

    But Tew and co. have developed antibiotics that work from the outside to quickly destroy bacterial cells. The drugs work by poking holes in bacterial membranes, killing the cells instantly. Within a few hours, the antibiotics are able to kill off entire colonies of bacterial pathogens. And resistance is futile: because the meds don’t enter the actual cell, it’s impossible for the bacteria to fight back via structural adaptation.

    The method has already proven effective in clinical trials for treating staph infections, and the Pentagon is betting it’ll be effective in combating Iraqibacter too. In 2009 alone, they doled out nearly $8 million to UMass and PolyMedix, to “study its antibiotic compounds for other biodefense applications and bacterial infections.”

    Read Full Article

    Source: Wired Magazine

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    • This Acinetobacter baumannii is one nasty infection...

      Since OPERATION Iraqi Freedom began in 2003, more than 700 US soldiers have been infected or colonized with Acinetobacter baumannii. A significant number of additional cases have been found in the Canadian and British armed forces, and among wounded Iraqi civilians. The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology has recorded seven deaths caused by the bacteria in US hospitals along the evacuation chain. Four were unlucky civilians who picked up the bug at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, while undergoing treatment for other life-threatening conditions. Another was a 63-year-old woman, also chronically ill, who shared a ward at Landstuhl with infected coalition troops.

      Behind the scenes, the spread of a pathogen that targets wounded GIs has triggered broad reforms in both combat medical care and the Pentagon's networks for tracking bacterial threats within the ranks. Interviews with current and former military physicians, recent articles in medical journals, and internal reports reveal that the Department of Defense has been waging a secret war within the larger mission in Iraq and Afghanistan - a war against antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

      Almost 40% of protective gowns and gloves worn by health care workers who were exposed to patients with multidrug resistant Acinetobacter baumannii became contaminated during contact, according to findings presented at the 2009 meeting of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, held in San Diego.

      A relatively benign bug becomes a highly lethal pathogen, known to U.S. soldiers as Iraqibacter.

      Multiple, Extremely and Completely Drug Resistant
      Acinetobacter baumannii

      Three Canadian soldiers sick with superbug
      Dupuis said as many as 40 percent of soldiers returning from the NATO mission in Afghanistan carry the bacteria, and it's commonly spread in field hospitals, resulting in pneumonia.

    • Great find! This is the kind of advertisement PYMX needs. Wired is quite a widely published magazine. Thanks.

      • 1 Reply to locodbay
      • Yes great article Unbear. I took Wired for a year myself. They gave me a year for $10.00. I actually enjoyed the magazine but did not renew. I found Polymedix in a article in Scientific American several years ago. The article was about a frog that was discovered that had a powerful bacterial killing agent in the skin secretion. Polymedix bought the rights to study and use this discovery. Upon reading this my curiosity was peeked. So I looked up the company symbol and started my research. The more I read the better I liked it. I've been following it and buying stock ever since. I called it my frog skin stock. Brock

    • = more grants coming our way.

    • Great Article. The potential of this company and its drugs are known at high levels in the research and development area. The Pentagon for use in treating troops and the positive comments and support by the University of Mass. Are we still looking at "fast track"? Puzzling to all of us as to why this hasn't shown more positive movement. Only been an investor for about 9 mos. and I am impatient. Can't imagine those of you that have been here from the start. How much longer?

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