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Archive - Jun 20, 2017

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Penn Study Details Impact of Antibiotics, Antiseptics on Skin Microbiomes; Results Show Antibiotic Effects Can Linger, Antiseptic Impact Not As Strong As Expected

The use of topical antibiotics can dramatically alter communities of bacteria that live on the skin, while the use of antiseptics has a much smaller, less durable impact, according to results of a new study. The study, conducted in mice in the laboratory of Elizabeth Grice, PhD, an Assistant Professor of Dermatology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, is the first to show the long-term effects of antimicrobial drugs on the skin microbiome. Researchers published their findings online on June 20, 2017 in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. The article is titled “Topical Antimicrobial Treatments Can Elicit Shifts to Resident Skin Bacterial Communities and Reduce Colonization by Staphylococcus aureus Competitors.” The skin, much like the gut, is colonized by a diverse multitude of microorganisms which generally coexist as a stable ecosystem -- many of which are harmless or even beneficial to the host. However, when that ecosystem is disturbed or destabilized, colonization and/or infection by more dangerous microbes can occur. Antiseptics, such as ethanol or iodine, are commonly used to disinfect the skin prior to surgical procedures or following exposure to contaminated surfaces or objects. Topical antibiotics may be used to decolonize skin of specific types of bacteria or for rashes, wounds, or other common conditions. In the gut, research shows medication that alters microbial communities can lead to complications like Clostridium difficile, or C. diff -- which causes diarrhea and is the most common hospital-acquired infection. But when it comes to the skin, the impact of these medications on bacteria strains like Staphylococcus aureus, or S. aureus -- the most common cause of skin infections -- is still largely unstudied.

Research into Octopus Sight Leads to Screening Device for Age-Related Macular Degeneration in Humans; Work Recognized with BBSRC Innovator of the Year 2017 Award

In a June 20, 2017 press release, it was announced that Dr. Shelby Temple, from the University of Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences, has been named Innovator of the Year 2017 for his ground-breaking work into polarization and macular degeneration. The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) award recognizes Dr Temple’s work in developing a device that can rapidly screen people at increased risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the worldwide leading cause of incurable blindness in people over 55. The innovation arose from BBSRC-funded research carried out at the University of Bristol, which looked at the ability of octopuses, cuttlefish, and coral reef fish to see polarized light - an aspect of light that humans aren’t typically aware they can see. Dr. Temple invented a series of unique devices to display polarized light to animals, and in doing so, realized he could see a pattern as well. “What I was seeing was an effect known as Haidinger’s brushes, which happens within the eye when people perceive polarized light. The ability to see this phenomenon is linked to an aspect of eye health and can be an early indicator of disease. “It became clear that the tools I had developed for octopuses and cuttlefish could be the foundation for a novel ophthalmic device that could rapidly screen people for susceptibility to AMD,” said Dr. Temple. This award acknowledges the important impact this device could have in preventing sight loss worldwide. In the UK alone, AMD affects more than 600,000 people and is estimated to cost the healthcare system £1.6 billion (~$2 billion) annually.