I finally got around to reading Carl Zimmer's highly-recommended National Geographic
article about antibiotics and their effect on our microbiome, the "100 trillion microbes that live in our healthy bodies."
Scientists are only now beginning to get answers to those questions. In a paper just published online in the journal Gut, Andres Moya of the University of Valencia and his colleagues took an unprecedented look at a microbiome weathering a storm of antibiotics. The microbiome belonged to a 68-year-old man who had developed an infection in his pacemaker. A two-week course of antbiotics cleared it up nicely. Over the course of his treatment, Moya and his colleagues collected stool samples from the man every few days, and then six weeks afterwards. They identified the species in the stool, as well as the genes that the bacteria switched on and off.
What’s most striking about Moya’s study is how the entire microbiome responded to the antibiotics as if it was under a biochemical mortar attack. The bacteria started producing defenses to keep the deadly molecules from getting inside them. To get rid of the drugs that did get inside them, they produced pumps to blast them back out. Meanwhile, the entire microbiome powered down its metabolism. This is probably a good strategy for enduring antibiotics, which typically attack the molecules that bacteria use to grow. As the bacteria shut down, they had a direct effect on their host: they stopped making vitamins and carrying out other metabolic tasks.
When You Swallow A Grenade
The Guardian’s released the first of “The Vagina Dispatches,” four short documentaries about women’s genitals. This episode is about vulvas, labiaplasty, anatomy, and sex, and is a fascinating 15 minutes. NSFW, if you work somewhere where images of vulvas are frowned upon. (Thanks, Mae!)
Blue writes, “Peter Watts has be stricken with debilitating pain, loss of range of motion and motor control. Watts’ doctors remain baffled despite a battery of tests, and Watts has reached out to his fans to ask for their theories and ideas as to what might be causing his illness.”
The cost of Aloquin — an acne cream based on iodoquinol and aloe, whose component ingredients cost virtually nothing — was raised by 128% this week by manufacturer Novum Pharma, who now charge $9,561 for a 60g tube.
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