New antibiotic shows promise for treating MRSA pneumonia

Sep. 11, 2013 — A drug approved just two years ago for treating bacterial infections may hold promise for treating the potentially fatal MRSA pneumonia, according to a Henry Ford Hospital study.Researchers found that patients treated with the antibiotic ceftaroline fosamil, or CPT-F, had a lower mortality rate after 28 days than the mortality rate seen in patients treated with vancomycin, the most common drug therapy for MRSA pneumonia.In the retrospective study, 33 of 38 patients responded well to treatments of CPT-F and were discharged from the hospital after the infection cleared. Of the five patients who died, three were attributed to other serious medical conditions.The mortality rate for patients treated with vancomycin has been reported to be as high as 32 percent after 28 days. In the Henry Ford study, the mortality rate for the CPT-F treated population was 13 percent.The study is being presented Wednesday at the annual Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy meeting in Denver.”Many things fall under the umbrella of proper and appropriate MRSA pneumonia treatment, and these results present a possible benefit with the use of CPT-F,” says Samia Arshad, a Henry Ford Infectious Diseases epidemiologist and the study’s lead author. “It is critical for us to find alternative drug therapies to improve patient outcomes. Further research is needed to test the efficacy of CPT-F on a larger patient population as CPT-F offers doctors another viable option for treating patients with MRSA pneumonia.”In 2010 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved CPT-F, an injectable antibiotic, for treating patients with bacterial infections like community-acquired bacterial pneumonia and skin infections. Henry Ford’s study is the first to evaluate the efficacy of MRSA pneumonia patients treated with CPT-F. MRSA pneumonia is highly antibiotic resistant and most common in patients 65 years or older.Researchers evaluated 38 patients treated with CPT-F. Twenty of these patients were failing standard treatment with either vancomycin and/or cefepime, and were switched to CPT-F. …

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Hot flashes? Thank evolution

July 29, 2013 — A study of mortality and fertility patterns among seven species of wild apes and monkeys and their relatives, compared with similar data from hunter-gatherer humans, shows that menopause sets humans apart from other primates.Nonhuman primates aren’t immune to the fading female fertility that comes with age, the researchers say. But human females are unique in living well beyond their childbearing years.”Unlike other primates women tend to have a long post-reproductive life. Even before modern medicine, many women lived for 30 to 35 years after their last child was born,” said co-author Susan Alberts of Duke University and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center.In a study appearing the week of July 29 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Alberts and colleagues compared mortality and fertility data for seven species of wild primates to similar data for the !Kung people of Southern Africa, a human population of hunter-gatherers with limited access to modern medicine or birth control.The nonhuman primate data were based on long-term observations of 700 adult females, including capuchins in Costa Rica, muriqui monkeys in Brazil, baboons and blue monkeys in Kenya, chimpanzees in Tanzania, gorillas in Rwanda and sifakas in Madagascar.This is the first study to compare humans with multiple primate species living in the wild.For each species, the researchers estimated the pace of reproductive decline — measured as the probability, at each age, that a female’s childbirth will be her last — and compared it with the rate of decline in overall health, measured as the odds of dying with each passing birthday. “This way we were able to compare the rate of aging in the reproductive system with the rate of aging in the rest of the body,’ Alberts said.The results suggest that in nonhuman primates, reproductive decline is surpassed by declines in survival, so that very few females run out of reproductive steam before they die. A female baboon, for example, may live to age 19, and continues to reproduce to the end.But in human females the reproductive system shuts down much more rapidly than the rest of the body. “Half of women experience menopause by the age of 50, and fertility starts to decline about two decades before that,” Alberts said.What distinguishes a human female from her primate cousins is not that the human biological clock ticks faster, but that mortality is so much lower in humans than in other primates, according to work done by University of Utah anthropologist Kristen Hawkes, who was not an author of this study.This study supports that idea, the researchers say. In both humans and chimpanzees, for example, female fertility starts to decline in the late 30s and early 40s. “[But] even in human populations with little access to modern medicine, like the !Kung [hunter-gatherers in this study], most women survive for decades after their last child is born. Nonhuman primates rarely do that,” Alberts said.If evolution has given us longer lifespans than our primate cousins, why hasn’t female reproduction kept pace? And in a world where individuals with more offspring tend to win the evolutionary contest, why shut down reproduction with decades of survival still ahead?It may be that older females who forego future breeding to invest in the survival of their existing children and grandchildren gain a greater evolutionary edge than those who continue to reproduce. …

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A new coral reef species from the Gambier Islands, French Polynesia

July 26, 2013 — The new speciesEchinophyllia taraeis described from the remote and poorly studied Gambier Islands, French Polynesia. Although the new species is common in the lagoon of Gambier Islands, its occurrence elsewhere is unknown.Echinophyllia taraelives in protected reef habitats and was observed between 5 and 20 m depth. It is a zooxanthellate species which commonly grows on dead coral fragments, which are also covered by crustose coralline algae and fleshy macroalgae.Share This:This species can grow on well illuminated surfaces but also encrusts shaded underhangs and contributes to the formation of coral reefs in the Gambier. It is characterized by large polyps and bright often mottled colourations and it is very plastic in morphology like most hard corals. Patterns of partial death and recovery of the species were often observed and could be due to competition with other benthic invertebrates like the soft-bodied corallimorpharians or zoanthids which can co-occur with this species.Stony corals are currently under threat by the effects of global warming, ocean acidification and anthropogenic changes of reef structures. Although corals represent a relatively well studied group of charismatic marine invertebrates, much has still to be understood of their biology, evolution, diversity, and biogeography. The discovery of this new species in French Polynesia confirms that our knowledge of hard coral diversity is still incomplete and that the exploration efforts of recent scientific expeditions like Tara Oceans can lead to new insights in a remote and previously poorly studied locations.This species is named after the Tara vessel which allowed the exploration of coral reefs in Gambier. Moreover, the name “tara” in the Polynesian language may refer to a spiny, pointed object, which applies well to the new species typically featuring pointed skeletal structures. In the same language, Tara is also the name of a sea goddess.Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by Pensoft Publishers. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons License. …

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Huge falls in diabetes mortality in UK and Canada since mid-1990s

June 20, 2013 — Both the UK and Canada have experienced huge falls in diabetes-related mortality since the mid-1990s, with the result that the gap in mortality risk between those with and without diabetes has narrowed substantially. The findings are in new research published in Diabetologia, the Journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), and written by Dr Lorraine Lipscombe, Women’s College Hospital, Women’s College Research Institute, Toronto, ON, Canada, and Adjunct Scientist, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Toronto, Canada; and Dr Marcus Lind, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden and colleagues.Share This:A previous review of studied investigated diabetes mortality suggested that having diabetes increased a person’s mortality risk by 80% compared with the general population. However, many studies in the review were from before 2000, and some recent studies have suggested diabetes might increase mortality by less than this. Thus in this new study, the authors estimated the current mortality rate ratio in patients with versus without diabetes and whether it has changed over time. The UK and Canada were selected for analysis because the authors in both nations and Sweden are part of an ongoing collaboration, and this is a study objective that cannot be examined in many countries, since there are limited numbers of databases with long follow-up which are also population-based with mortality data on individuals both with and without diabetes. Both Canada and the UK hold such data.The population-based databases from the province of Ontario, Canada, and The Health Improvement Network (THIN) database from the UK, from years 1996 to 2009 were used to calculate mortality rates in persons with and without diabetes.The excess risk of mortality estimated during 2009 was 51% in Ontario and 65% in THIN for diabetic patients on a group level, compared to 90% and 114%, respectively, in the year 1996. The excess risk of mortality for diabetic patients declined to a similar extent for men and women over the study period, and no significant differences between sexes were observed in 2009. “It is noteworthy that the prevalence of diabetes in Ontario (adults 20 years or older) increased from 5.4% to 11.4% over the study period, and in the THIN cohort there was an increase in prevalence from 3.2% to 5.9% over the corresponding time period,” says Lipscombe.The excess risk of mortality for diabetic patients decreased in all age groups over time — approximately 25%-40% lower in age groups below 64 years and 50%-65% lower in those aged 64 years and older during the study period. In 2009 the excess risk of mortality for individuals with diabetes 20-44 years of age was 70%-80% in both cohorts. In those 45-64 years old, mortality was approximately doubled, and was 15-25% greater in individuals 65 years of age and over.The authors say that more aggressive treatment during recent decades may explain these results, including more intensive control of blood sugar in people with diabetes, and blood pressure control and statins to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in people both with and without diabetes. …

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