||April 18, 2008
Toxic to Tasty
As a rule, antibiotics kill bacteria. Or so we used to think. According to a
study in the April 4 Science, hundreds of different strains of bacteria
found in the soil cannot only survive an antibiotic assault, they thrive on it.
More than 600 types of bacteria, many of which are close relations to those that
infect humans, were able to grow on a diet of nothing but antibiotic drugs. The
antibiotics tested included 18 clinically relevant drugs. The paper, by co–first
authors Morten Sommer (left) and Gautam Dantas (right) from the lab of George
Church, suggest that the extent of the “antibiotic resistome,” the
collection of genetic mechanisms that enable resistance, is much broader than
Mutations in Adults Illuminate Heart Defect in Children
Flaws in the blueprint for the heart’s exquisite tapestry of
sarcomere proteins cause most cases of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
in adults. A team led Christine and Jonathan Seidman has now determined
that many children with unexplained cardiac hypertrophy harbor mutations
in the same genes. Their study, which appeared online April 9 in The
New England Journal of Medicine, provides the first evidence that
unexplained cardiac hypertrophy can share common genetic roots, regardless
of the age at which symptoms appear.
Cancer Drug Takes Fast Track to Clinical Trials
Gary Gilliland (left) and his team, including primary researcher Gerlinde
Wernig, report the striking efficacy of a new designer drug in treating
a mouse model of the red blood cell cancer, polycythemia vera (PV).
More than 95 percent of patients with PV have been previously found
to express a mutant version of the kinase protein JAK2. In the April
7 Cancer Cell, Gilliland’s team shows that a specially
designed small-molecule inhibitor of JAK2 can revert a mouse model
of PV into remission—apparently without any significant side
effects. This new drug is now undergoing phase I clinical trials at
the Dana–Farber Cancer Institute.