It’s easy to blame things on the dog. Chewed furniture? Yep. That mystery puddle on the floor? Sure. Being a slobbery, disgusting vehicle for germs entering the house? Definitely. But as you’re wiping dog snot off your windows for the billionth time, look on the bright side: the microbes brought into the house by dogs are actually helping our immune systems. Kids who grow up in households with dogs are less likely to develop autoimmune diseases and allergies – potentially due to the diversity of bacteria brought into the house by Fido. What about cats, you ask? All we know for sure is cats couldn’t care less if you get sick. Here are the 5 most popular dog breeds IN THE WORLD!
Ever heard of the belly-brain connection? Or about the second brain in your gut? Well here is another crazy connection between the mind and one’s midsection: electromagnetic brain stimulation—currently a treatment for major depression—promotes weight loss by improving the health of the bacteria in one’s intestines. This study, which expands upon previous research linking dTMS (deep transcranial magnetic stimulation) with reduced food cravings resulting in weight loss, found that “After five weeks of treatment, subjects receiving dTMS lost more than 3% of their body weight and more than 4% of their fat—significantly more than controls did,” according to principal investigator Livio Luzi M.D. These findings offer hope for safe, effective, and non-invasive treatments for obesity.
It’s synonymous with illnesses and we all try to avoid it at Chipotle. Yep, it’s bacteria. But don’t break out the Purell just yet. It seems a startup has found another good use for E. coli, albeit genetically modified. This engineered strain of bacteria has an insatiable appetite for ammonia. When our bodies are unable to naturally process ammonia, it leads to urea cycle disorders which are estimated to cause up to 20% of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome cases and a myriad of other dangerous, fatal disorders. Luckily, treatment couldn’t be easier. Just one pill packed with 100 billion (with a B!) of the modified bacteria and your body will be eating ammonia like it’s turkey on Thanksgiving. Speaking of… for our US readers, this is how you carve a turkey. Gobble, gobble.
Finally, some good news in the fight against antibiotic resistance… even if it’s a bit gross. A study published in Nature’s Scientific Reports found that the milk of the Tasmanian devil is effective in killing antibiotic-resistant MRSA and VRE bacteria. Young devils spend their first few months with incomplete immune systems hanging out in mama’s pouch. You may recognize an animal’s pouch as being slightly more pathogen-infested than your typical cleanroom environment. But it seems that peptides responsible for killing those bacteria are expressed in both the mother’s milk and pouch lining, protecting the joey. So yeah, new biologic sources are great and all, but we’re still a bit off-put by this. Maybe Taz can illustrate our feelings about it best.
Fighting mutating superbugs with star-shaped weapons sounds more like the newest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie than the latest findings in microbiology, right? A team of scientists from the Melbourne School of Engineering would like to prove otherwise. A new study using star-shaped molecules has proven extremely effective at killing antibiotic-resistant bacteria while also being non-toxic to the body. Considering that team member Professor Greg Qiao believes “the rise of superbugs will cause up to ten million deaths a year by 2050,” and that only a few new antibiotics have been developed in the last 30 years, this could be the beginning of a new way to fight antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Splinter would be proud.
Children born via cesarean delivery miss out on exposure to important microbes present in the mother that help to establish the baby’s gastrointestinal microbiota. As a result, these babies exhibited a less diverse species in microbiota colonization, which is associated with an increased risk of being overweight or obese. Just how great is the risk? A recent study found children who take the express lane are 64% more likely to become obese when compared to a sibling who takes the business route. This isn’t the only known drawback to bypassing the birth canal—underdeveloped immune systems as well as an increased risk of allergies, asthma, celiac disease and type one diabetes are all tied to cesarean deliveries. Time to re-think Lamaze.
Creating the next superbug, all in the name of customer satisfaction. According to David Hyun of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Antibiotic Resistance Project, this is just the case when doctors prescribe antibiotics that are unnecessary, because they believe it makes their patients happier. Roughly 7,600 of the 184,032 medical visits assessed, in a joint project between the CDC and the Pew Charitable Trusts, ended in an antibiotic prescription that was deemed completely unnecessary. The kicker is that patients are generally willing to do whatever their doctor says even if it doesn’t involve a medication. Closing the gap between what patients need and what doctors think they want could help defend us all from more drug resistant bacteria and cut down on the $3 billion wasted annually on what may be useless prescriptions.