Why Bacteria are the New Disease Fighters

1/23/2022 8:00:00 PM

Scientists are recruiting some amazing microbial armies in the fight against cancer and other illnesses.

Scientists are recruiting some amazing microbial armies in the fight against cancer and other illnesses.

Scientists are recruiting some amazing microbial armies in the fight against cancer and other illnesses.

Neisseria meningitidis.Pharmacy shelves worldwide are being stocked with COVID-19 antivirals Paxlovid (pictured) and molnupiravir.Pharmacy shelves worldwide are being stocked with COVID-19 antivirals Paxlovid (pictured) and molnupiravir.Pharmacy shelves worldwide are being stocked with COVID-19 antivirals Paxlovid (pictured) and molnupiravir.

Because these and other bacteria can cause serious illness — and even death — they tend to get all the attention.And we tend to think of all bacteria as bad guys.Another major milestone arrived at the end of the year, with the approval of two oral antiviral treatments — molnupiravir and Paxlovid — that promise to reduce the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.But most bacteria aren’t harmful, and many are helpful — even necessary — to a healthy life.But as these pills slowly make their way into pharmacies worldwide, researchers are already looking ahead to the drugs that could supersede them.Without bacteria, we wouldn’t be able to digest certain foods or synthesize some crucial vitamins.“These are our first-generation antivirals against coronaviruses,” says Sara Cherry, an immunologist at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.Some bacteria even eat other microbes that do make us ill.Our experience with antivirals against other diseases, like hepatitis C and HIV, proves that “we can do better and better over time”, she adds.

Even those few that can be dangerous often aren’t.COVID antiviral pills: what scientists still want to know Clinical-trial data showed that molnupiravir, developed by the pharmaceutical firm Merck, based in Kenilworth, New Jersey, and the biotechnology company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics in Miami, Florida, cut hospitalizations and deaths by 30%, compared with people who took placebos.COVID antiviral pills: what scientists still want to know Clinical-trial data showed that molnupiravir, developed by the pharmaceutical firm Merck, based in Kenilworth, New Jersey, and the biotechnology company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics in Miami, Florida, cut hospitalizations and deaths by 30%, compared with people who took placebos.And that’s a good thing, too.According to the latest count , we have at least as many bacterial cells in our bodies as we have human cells, maybe slightly more.UK regulators approved molnupiravir in November and Paxlovid in December, and US regulators granted emergency authorizations for both drugs in December.And those tiny critters aren’t just passive passengers.Other countries have followed suit with their own approvals, and many are negotiating with the drug makers to buy courses of the drugs or to manufacture their own generic versions.Elaine Hsiao is a researcher at UCLA who studies how the microbiota affects the nervous system.For now, the pills are in short supply.For now, the pills are in short supply.

In a 2015 YouTube video , she explains that these microbes interact with each other and form communities.“They divide and replicate” and “they even wage wars against each other,” she says.But when they become more widely available — and if their clinical-trial data is borne out in the real world — the pills will become vital tools to prevent people from becoming seriously ill with COVID-19, says Cherry.But when they become more widely available — and if their clinical-trial data is borne out in the real world — the pills will become vital tools to prevent people from becoming seriously ill with COVID-19, says Cherry.This drama is always going on within our bodies; however, we are unaware of most of it.Better Negotiations In many cases bacteria become dangerous only when their populations are disturbed — that is, when the microbial balance of our bodies is out of whack.Although its sky-high rate of replication is a breeding ground for mutations, he says, the virus also causes acute infections that offer relatively little time for resistance-causing mutations to accumulate.In his 1974 book Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher, the physician and writer Lewis Thomas put it this way: “Disease usually results from inconclusive negotiations for symbiosis, an overstepping of the line by one side or the other, a biologic misinterpretation of borders.But the threat of resistance is particularly severe for ‘monotherapies’ such as molnupiravir and Paxlovid that each target only one part of the virus.But the threat of resistance is particularly severe for ‘monotherapies’ such as molnupiravir and Paxlovid that each target only one part of the virus.

” When bacteria do cause problems, however, those problems are not limited to what you typically think of as infectious disease.That’s why it’s imperative to develop new antivirals aimed at different targets, or ones that can be combined into a single treatment to attack the virus on multiple fronts, says Sheahan.Microbes have been linked to a.

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