Biologists develop new method for discovering antibiotics

Science Daily: “Biologists at the University of California, San Diego have developed a revolutionary new method for identifying and characterizing antibiotics, an advance that could lead to the discovery of new antibiotics to treat antibiotic resistant bacteria. The researchers made their discovery by developing a way to perform the equivalent of an autopsy on bacterial cells. “This will provide a powerful new tool for identifying compounds that kill bacteria and determining how they work,” said Joseph Pogliano, a professor of biology at UC San Diego who headed the research team.”” – An “autopsy on bacterial cells”, how cool is that. This is a tremendous discovery as we’ve been slowly losing the war on bacteria for more than a decade. The last time I practiced “clinical pharmacy” was about six years ago and antibiotic resistance was a scary issue back then.

Journal reference:
Poochit Nonejuie, Michael Burkart, Kit Pogliano, and Joe Pogliano. Bacterial cytological profiling rapidly identifies the cellular pathways targeted by antibacterial molecules. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, September 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1311066110


(Image taken from The Microbiologist, where source is liked to CNN)

Pocket-sized drug detection

gizmag: “The researchers say that real time date rape drug detection has been impossible until now because of the lack of a sensor sensitive enough to detect the drugs. Adding to the difficulty of proving the presence of such drugs is that after a few hours they become undetectable in the human bloodstream.

The system they [Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences] developed works on simple optics principles, says Professor Fernando Patolsky. Although date rape drugs are colorless and odorless when mixed into a cocktail, they do subtly change the optical properties of the drink and it is this change that the new sensor detects. When a ray of light comes into contact with a drugged drink, a "signal change" occurs and the sensor sounds an alarm. A commercial version of the sensor could emit a beeping noise or a small flashing light for use in the dark and loud environment of a bar or club.”

Pretty cool stuff with a practical application. Let’s hope it’s easily portable, simple to use and dirt cheap. Kind of reminds me of a technologically advanced refractometer.

Roadside drug test anyone?


Technology Review: “Later this year, Philips will introduce a handheld electronic device that uses magnetic nanoparticles to screen for five major recreational drugs. The device is intended for roadside use by law enforcement agencies and includes a disposable plastic cartridge and a handheld analyzer. The cartridge has two components: a sample collector for gathering saliva and a measurement chamber containing magnetic nanoparticles. The particles are coated with ligands that bind to one of five different drug groups: cocaine, heroin, cannabis, amphetamine, and methamphetamine.” – When bound to the offending drug, the ligands – dig out the chemistry books everyone – will delivery a color coded test result in about 90 seconds. Philips has been working on the technology since 2001 and hopes to begin shipping the devices later this year. That’s some pretty cool technology.