Health: No more NyQuil?

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A new sinusitis treatment derived from marine bacteria show promise, according to UK researchers.

Marine enyzme holds promise for sinusitis treatment

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — An enzyme derived from marine bacteria holds promise in treating sinusitis, according to a team of scientists and surgeons from Newcastle, who are developing a new nasal spray that helps break down mucus.

The enyzme is from the Bacillus licheniformis, which scientists had started researching for the purpose of cleaning the hulls of ships. In a paper on the potential new treatment in PLOS ONE, the scientists describe how in many cases of chronic sinusitis the bacteria form a biofilm which can protect them from sprays or antibiotics. Continue reading

Scientists discover ‘living power cables’

A computer simulation of a neural network. Photo courtesy PloS Computational Biology, via Wikipedia.

Science meets science fiction at the bottom of the sea

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — In the popular movie Avatar, the ecology of Pandora is shaped by a living neural network that connects all the living things, and now, a team of international scientists has discovered that the science fiction theme of the movie may not be so farfetched.

The scientists were studying bacteria living in marine sediments when they discovered what they described as a seemingly inexplicable electric current on the sea floor. The new experiments revealed that these currents are mediated by a hitherto unknown type of long, multicellular bacteria that act as living power cables.

“Until we found the cables we imagined something cooperative where electrons were transported through external networks between different bacteria. It was indeed a surprise to realize, that it was all going on inside a single organism,” said Lars Peter Nielsen of the Aarhus Department of Bioscience, and a corresponding author of the Nature paper, published Oct. 24. Continue reading

E. coli, Salmonella found inside plant tissue

Mung beans and other foods can remain contaminated with harmful pathogens even after being washed. Photo by Sanjay Acharya, via the Creative Commons.

Washing veggies isn’t enough — they have to be cooked to kill pathogens

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Offering new proof that simply washing veggies can’t eliminate the potential for Salmonella and E. coli infections, a Purdue University study showed that harmful pathogens can survive in the tissue of plants. Cooking food to a temperature sufficient to kill micro-organisms is the only completely safe route, the researchers said.

The bacteria could spread through the plants from seeds that are contaminated before planting, or the pathogens could move into the plants from contaminated soil and water.

“The pathogens were in every major tissue, including the tissue that transports nutrients in plants,” said Amanda Deering, a post-doctoral researcher at Purdue whose results were published in separate papers in the Journal of Food Protection and Food Research International. Continue reading

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