Monday, October 20, 2014

Antibiotic Proliferation

There is a staggering array of antibiotics available to the modern clinician, from the old standby, penicillin, to the newest antibiotic available. “Old” antibiotics, penicillin and the sulfonamides, are effective most of the time in treating routine outpatient infections.[38] When enough infections that don’t respond to the ‘old standbys’ arise, new antibiotics soon follow.

Between 1945 and 1968, drug companies invented 13 new categories of antibiotics, but between 1968 and today, just two new categories of antibiotics have been added. According to the National Institutes of Health the lack of new antibiotics is threefold:[39]
  • There is not much money in it;
  • Inventing new antibiotics is technically challenging;
  • In light of drug safety concerns, the FDA has made it difficult for companies to get new antibiotics approved.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mass Production of Antibiotics

Since the discovery of antibiotics, natural products have been used as killers of disease causing bacteria.  This has prevented untold pain, suffering, and created a revolution in healthcare, however, it is now outdated and these early antibiotics are now largely ineffective. As new pathogens emerge, scientists struggle to keep up with ways to kill them. The “new” pathogens in this scenario being pathogens that have evolved resistance genes from unfettered use of antibiotics.  Antibiotics are now manufactured in three ways[35]:
  • Collected from live microorganisms
  • Semi-synthetically produced from natural products
  • Chemically synthesized based on the structure of natural products

Monday, October 6, 2014

Evolution in Action—Right Before your Very Eyes!

With every dose of antibiotics a person receives, the microbes that survive the medicine will be “antibiotic resistant.”  These antibiotic resistant microbes can then be passed to other people and even a fetus.  A person may have never had a course of antibiotics in their entire life, yet harbor many antibiotic resistant pathogens.  These resistant bacteria are transmitted in three ways:[28]
  • Consumption of animal products (such as meat, eggs, and milk)
  • Close contact with animals or humans who harbor antibiotic resistant microbes
  • Through the environment, as in water contaminated with animal or human waste

Friday, October 3, 2014

Cattail Magic

One of the first pit stops I made while researching resistant starch was early man's use of cattails.  Mounds of evidence suggest that humans, and even Neanderthals, utilized cattails in their lives.  Cattail starch granules showed up on microscopic examinations of stone age grinding tools and the cattail range are extensive--miles and miles, acre upon acre of cattails line the shores of marshes the world over.  There is just no way early man would have ignored this feast.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Evolution of Antibiotic Resistance

Microbes developed interactive signalling systems over billions of years.  Scientists do not have a complete grasp on how antibiotics are produced or what they do in the natural world. There are several theories that involve gene transfer, evolutionary selection, and competition. At first it was believed that microbes produced antibiotics when competing microbes encroached on their territory, but this explanation was proved wrong when microbes began producing antibiotics in a laboratory setting with no other microbes present.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Arctic Tiger Nut Crop Experiment

Lots of talk this year about tiger nuts.  Surely you've heard of them by now.  These are not nuts, but the root tubers of a type of sedge grass that helped man become man.  Our earliest ancestors ate them, the ancient Egyptians raised them, they are still enjoyed all over the world today.

Tiger nuts can be purchased from several places, my favorite place to buy them is from the Chief Nut himself at Tigernuts USA. He will personally call you to recommend you soak them before eating and answer any questions you may have...seriously.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Winds of War

Though the discovery of antibiotics went largely unnoticed, World War II changed everything. By 1945 Fleming’s penicillin was in full production as were many of the antibiotics pioneered by Waksman.  In fact, a large supply of penicillin was a prerequisite for the D-Day invasions of Normandy. At a time of great national pride the production of antibiotics was delegated to the War Department. A memo was sent to the manufacturers of antibiotics in 1943[16]:

"You are urged to impress upon every worker in your plant that penicillin produced today will be saving the life of someone in a few days or curing the disease of someone now incapacitated. Put up slogans in your plant! Place notices in pay envelopes! Create an enthusiasm for the job down to the lowest worker in your plant."