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Scientists Develop New Antibiotic to Kill Drug-Resistant Bacteria

Scientists have developed a novel antibiotic to combat bacteria resistant to existing antibiotics. The bacteria, Acinetobacter baumannii, causes infections in the lungs, urinary tract and blood and has a high mortality rate.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that it is resistant to a class of broad-spectrum antibiotics known as carbapenems, and it kills a significant number of people via invasive infection.

In 2017, the World Health Organization released a list of antibiotic-resistant “priority pathogens,” listing Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (CRAB) in its critical category. The organization describes pathogens of this designation as “ multidrug-resistant bacteria that pose a particular threat in hospitals, nursing homes, and among patients whose care requires devices such as ventilators and blood catheters.”

Data from the CDC shows that the bacteria caused 700 fatalities and 8,500 infections in hospitalized patients in the US that year. Being a Gram-negative bacteria, protected by inner and outer membranes, makes CRAB incredibly difficult to treat. The US Food and Drug Administration has not authorized a new class of antibiotics to treat it in over 50 years.

However, Acinetobacter baumannii can be effectively killed with the new antibiotic Zosurabalpin, according to researchers from Harvard University and the Swiss healthcare company Hoffmann-La Roche.

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Dr. Kenneth Bradley, one of the researchers and global head of infectious disease discovery with Roche Pharma Research and Early Development, stated that the drug is in its own chemical class and has a unique method of action.

The study’s primary objective was to discover and optimize a molecule capable of penetrating bacterial double membranes and killing them. “These two membranes create a very formidable barrier for entry of molecules like antibiotics,” he said.

“This is a novel approach, both in terms of the compound itself but as well as the mechanism by which it kills bacteria.”

The research found that Zosurabalpin was effective against over 100 CRAB clinical samples. To develop the drug, the scientists researched 45,000 small antibiotic molecules known as tethered macrocyclic peptides to find those that could inhibit bacterial growth. Researchers spent years honing the effectiveness and safety of a select few compounds before settling on a single modified molecule.

By blocking the transport of lipopolysaccharides, which are big molecules essential for maintaining the integrity of the outer membrane and ultimately leading to cell death, Zolofalacpin inhibits the growth of Acinetobacter baumannii.

According to the study, the antibiotic significantly decreased bacterial levels in mice with CRAB-induced pneumonia. Additionally, it prevented the death of mice infected with bacterial sepsis.

“Drug discovery that targets harmful Gram-negative bacteria is a long-standing challenge owing to difficulties in getting molecules to cross the bacterial membranes to reach targets in the cytoplasm. Compounds typically must possess a certain combination of chemical characteristics.”

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Dr. Michael Lobritz, the global head of infectious diseases at Roche Pharma Research and Early Development and an associate participant in the study, stated that the continued absence of effective treatments for antibiotic resistance means that the public health risk of this phenomenon is still a major one on a global scale, regardless of the new finding.

According to CNN, an analysis published in the Lancet in 2022 estimated that antimicrobial resistance was directly responsible for the deaths of about 1.3 million people worldwide in 2019. When put side by side, that year, 860,000 people died from HIV/AIDS and 640,000 from malaria.

The CDC stated in its 2019 Antibiotic Resistance Threats Report that more than 2.8 million cases of infections resistant to antibiotics are reported annually in the United States. Over 35,000 of those individuals lose their lives.

More antibiotics have been developed to treat Gram-positive infections in the last few decades, according to Lobritz. Gram-negative bacteria are more resistant to antibiotics and generally more dangerous. “These  Gram-negative bacteria, they’ve been accumulating resistance to many of our preferred first-line antibiotics for a long time.”

“Innovations are hard to come by. It’s taken us ten years of effort on this project to get it to where it is now, and there’s still more clinical trials to go before it can be determined whether or not it’s a medicine.”

According to the researchers, the method that was used to limit the growth of Acinetobacter, blocking the creation or formation of the outer membrane, could be useful for other difficult-to-treat bacteria such as E. coli. The drug is now in phase 1 clinical trials to assess for safety in humans.

Mevlude Markasjh Markashi Home Health Consulting LLC

Embracing Technology and Transforming Homecare | Mevlude Markashi

The healthcare landscape is evolving rapidly, catalyzed by unprecedented challenges and opportunities. The COVID-19 pandemic not only shook the foundations of healthcare delivery but also accelerated the shift towards technological integration—highlighting the critical need for agility and resilience in the face of crisis. Mevlude “Mev” Markashi RN, CHFP, CSBI, whose career path exemplifies the essence of flexibility and foresight in healthcare, is at the vanguard of this transformation.

Leanna Sue Wilson

From Radish Leaves to a Natural Hormone Balancing Formula: How Tenacity and Empathy for Women’s Health Challenges Led to a Groundbreaking, World First Discovery | Leanna Sue Wilson

Leanna Wilson has spent over two decades working to find natural, effective ways to balance hormone levels. She recognized early on that balanced hormones were the key to solving a myriad of health ailments, particularly those relating to women’s health. The years of research paid off. Leanna and her team at Nokomis Research found the solution. And they found it in radish leaves.

brain

Software Program Powered by Artificial Intelligence May Revolutionize Treatment of Aneurysms

A medical software program powered by artificial intelligence called PreSize can potentially revolutionize the treatment of brain aneurysms. Scientists found that PreSize outperformed experienced neurosurgeons at predicting where to place a treatment stent in a patient’s brain.

Weakness in an artery wall typically causes aneurysms, which, if discovered before rupturing, can be medically monitored or surgically closed with a tiny metal clip. Brain aneurysms are more common in people over the age of 40 but can occur at any age.

Alternatively, a flexible mesh tube of metal called a stent can be implanted inside the artery via catheter insertion guided by X-ray imaging. These stents typically utilize shape memory alloys, which spring open upon being unsheathed.

Researchers analyzed data from previous brain aneurysm operations, during which a “multitude” of different stents were used, to better understand the devices’ behavior under different conditions.

Dr Katerina Spranger, founder and chief executive of the company that developed the software, Oxford Heartbeat, told the UK’s PA news agency that the placement of the device is critical during treatment.

“It’s extremely important to get the device correct, in terms of the correct size and also correct implantation. Currently, the way they do it, there is a lot of guesswork involved.”

According to Dr. Spranger, there is a high risk of complications from these complex devices, the most common of which are blood clots, which can lead to strokes.

“If the device is, for example, undersized, it can detach from the blood vessels and start traveling around the circulatory system of the body, which is huge complication. Or if it’s oversized, it can almost rupture the vessel.”

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PreSize provides doctors with a reconstructed image of a patient’s brain and a catalog of digital device replicas that mimic the behavior of various stents.

“This is another key to the complexity of the problem because all those devices are very different. Each manufacturer has their own proprietary technology. In the virtual environment, the algorithms put the two together – the complex anatomy of the patient and mechanics of the device. It can predict what’s going to happen if you put a particular device into a particular location.”

The PreSize platform allows clinicians to load a patient’s scan and test out different devices right inside the operating room to determine which will be most effective.

“We do a lot of research, a lot of experiments, to make sure that the digital twins actually correspond to the actual device’s behavior. We designed it so that it’s extremely intuitive and extremely accurate. Fit for a high-stress surgical environment because the patient is usually already on the table.”

According to Dr. Spranger, the best device can be determined in just three minutes using PreSize instead of the usual 10-15 minutes.

“A fraction of a millimeter can make or break a surgery. We knew that for a software to be successful in such a high-stress environment, it has to be super easy. We designed it so that it can be used without even any training. They get real-time feedback. For example, if they want to try another device, reposition the device, elongate the device, choose another – it immediately reacts and immediately tells them ‘this is how it’s going to look.’”

Dr. Spranger predicts that the use of software in the medical field will soon become a “standard of care” due to its high accuracy, marking it as “a medical device of a new generation.”

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According to The Independent, 375 people have had procedures using PreSize. Seven hospitals across England, Scotland, Germany, Finland, and Ukraine have been taking advantage of the new technology.

PreSize was found to be more accurate than human clinicians at predicting where a stent will “land” in the brain, according to research published in the BMJ Journal of Neurointerventional Surgery.

In the study, eight neurointerventionalists were given 3D images and data showing a stent’s initial landing location for 51 cases.

The medics were given the stent’s origin and instructed to plot its course as they usually would, using the information provided and the stent’s dimensions to make an educated guess as to where it would ultimately land.

PreSize could predict its final landing location with a 95% accuracy rate, while the neurointerventionalists had an 81% accuracy rate.

England’s healthcare system is currently using AI to help clinicians read scans and X-rays to speed up diagnoses and decision-making on treatments. However, Dr. Spranger recommends “rigorous testing” before deploying new systems.

“AI has the potential to revolutionize healthcare, but before we adopt it, we must rigorously test new systems. Medical device software companies like ours should be held to account to address any distrust about AI.”

Dr. Jason S. Litzinger Nurse

Breaking Barriers and Bridging Gaps: A Nurse’s Journey to the Frontlines of Rural Healthcare | Dr. Jason S. Litzinger, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC

In the bustling corridors of our healthcare institutions, amid the beeping monitors and hurried footsteps, there exists a field of dedicated professionals who possess an unwavering love for their vocation: the nurses. Standing out among these compassionate caregivers is Dr. Jason S. Litzinger, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC —a nurse who not only ardently serves the needs of patients but also holds an unshakable reverence for the nursing profession in the face of its continuing challenges and impending shortages.

Dr. Anne Louise Phelan Doctor Advocate

Silenced and Stigmatized: The Untold Story of Physicians Denied Mental Healthcare | Dr. Anne Louise Phelan

In the noble pursuit of healing others, doctors often find themselves battling an invisible adversary that silently erodes their well-being: their own mental health. However, a daunting obstacle stands in the way of seeking help—the fear that reaching out for support will jeopardize their professional careers. As a doctor and activist for medical professionals, Dr. Anne Louise Phelan passionately advocates for a better system—one that prioritizes support and understanding.

Dr. Reyzan Shali Tri-City Primary Care

From Bullying Victim to Inspirational Speaker: A Doctor’s Empowering Journey | Dr. Reyzan Shali

How we talk to ourselves can profoundly impact our mental and emotional well-being. The effects of negative self-talk are often insidious. Whether it be the voice in our head that tells us we are not good enough or the one that reminds us of our past mistakes, our internal dialogue can devastate our self-esteem, confidence and motivation. In a world where adversity and negativity can often consume us, Dr. Reyzan Shali’s story serves as a beacon of hope and resilience.

Kelley Simoneau Woodfin CORE Risk Services

The Value of Being Proactive in Health Care Risk Management | Kelley Simoneau Woodfin

Pursuing a medical or nursing career almost certainly has a profound impact on a person’s life, including but not limited to the length of time and the cost of education. Nurse and risk management consultant Kelley Simoneau Woodfin R.N. B.S., DFASHRM, CPHRM, however, emphasizes how gratifying such a career can be even with the factors of today that encumber the health care industry.

fungus

CDC Says a Deadly Fungal Infection Is Spreading in the US at an ‘Alarming’ Rate

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning that a drug-resistant and potentially deadly fungus is spreading rapidly at an “alarming rate” through U.S. health care facilities.

A study conducted by the CDC found that Candida auris has now been detected in more than half of U.S. states. Cases nationwide nearly doubled between 2020 and 2021 from 756 to 1,471 before increasing to 2,377 in 2022. The majority of cases tested were immune to antifungal treatment.

C. auris poses little threat to healthy people but can cause serious illness or death in those with compromised immune systems or those who use medical devices like ventilators or catheters.

The CDC has called the fungus an “urgent antimicrobial resistance threat.” It can spread from “contact with affected patients and contaminated surfaces or equipment.” Common symptoms include fever and chills that do not improve with treatment.

Dr. Meghan Lyman, chief medical officer of the CDC’s mycotic diseases branch and the report’s lead author, told NBC the increase in cases “in the most recent years, are really concerning to us.” She stated the CDC has “seen increases not just in areas of ongoing transmission, but also in new areas.”

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Identifying the fungal infection can be challenging because most patients present with advanced illness and confirmation of infection requires a laboratory test. Moreover, while a significant number of patients with invasive infections die, it can be difficult to assess the exact role C. auris played in these deaths.

According to the CDC data, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, infection by C. auris was first reported in the United States in 2016. The most rapid rise in cases was observed from 2020 to 2021.

The growing number of cases resistant to echinocandins, the most widely prescribed antifungal medication for the infection, is raising the most concern.

Poor infection prevention in health care facilities and better screening efforts have contributed to the increase in reported cases, according to the CDC. The additional strain on health care and public health systems during the pandemic may have also exacerbated the spread of the fungus.

The Mississippi Department of Health has been fighting a growing outbreak of infections. A lead epidemiologist in the state, Dr. Paul Byers, told NBC there had been ongoing transmission at two long-term care facilities. Cases have also been identified at several other facilities in the state.

“Unfortunately, multi-drug resistant organisms such as C. auris have become more prevalent among our highest risk individuals, such as residents in long-term care facilities.”

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Dr. Byers told NBC in an email at least 12 people have been infected with C. auris since November, with four “potentially associated deaths.”

The CDC reports that the fungus can be found both on the skin and throughout the body. The healthy population is not in danger, but about a third of those infected with C. auris die.

The CDC examined information from state and local health departments on C. auris infections and asymptomatic but contagious “colonized” individuals from 2016 to 2021. Between 2019 and 2020, infections increased by 59%. The following year, there was a 95% increase. The number of people “colonized” increased by 21% in 2020 and 208% in 2021.

Dr. Waleed Javaid, an epidemiologist and director of infection prevention and control at Mount Sinai Downtown in New York, called the findings “worrisome.”

“But we don’t want people who watched ‘The Last of Us’ to think we’re all going to die. This is an infection that occurs in extremely ill individuals who are usually sick with a lot of other issues.”

One of the challenges in preventing the fungus spread in hospital ICU units is that C. auris can colonize not only people who come into contact with the fungus but also patient rooms.

“By its nature, it has an extreme ability to survive on surfaces. It can colonize walls, cables, bedding, chairs. We clean everything with bleach and UV light.”

pt

New Technology Helps Two Patients With Stroke Paralysis Regain Movement in Their Hands

According to a report in Nature Medicine, two stroke patients were able to regain the use of a paralyzed arm and hand after receiving electrical pulses to a specific area of their spinal cords.

One of the patients, Heather Rendulic, previously could not carry out routine tasks involving her left hand, such as holding a fork or making a fist.

Rendulic had a series of five strokes over a period of 11 months when she was 22 years old due to a rare brain disease called cavernous angioma, which left her paralyzed on her left side.

After volunteering for and undergoing a clinical study in 2021 to improve the lives of people like her, Rendulic opened her hand for the first time in nine years.

“I live one-handed in a two-handed world, and you don’t realize how many things you need two hands for until you only have one good one.”

During the clinical trial, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University implanted a pair of thin metal electrodes along the surface of Rendulic’s spinal cord. The electrodes sent tiny electrical pulses to stimulate specific regions and activate nerve cells.

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Study co-author and assistant professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Marco Capogrosso, shared how everyone in the room was stunned when Rendulic could “move her hand and arm after nine years from day one.”

“The whole lab was crying because…we didn’t really expect that this could work as fast.”

Rendulic described the stimulation as “kind of like a tickle.” The process did not hurt her, but it initially felt a bit uncomfortable.

“When the stimulation is on, I feel like I now have control of my arm and my hand again that I haven’t had.”

Rendulic can now carry out several mobility tasks, including drawing a spiral, opening a lock, and gripping and lifting a soup can while the device is still on. At the end of the four-week trial, she was even able to cut her own steak. The other patient in the trial saw the same newfound range of motion.

Researchers hope this new technology, paired with targeted physical training, can improve outcomes even further.

Spinal cord stimulation has long been used to treat chronic pain. Prior research has shown that the same technology could restore leg movement after a spinal cord injury. However, upper limb paralysis has always been more challenging to restore since multiple nerves are involved in the movement of shoulders, wrists and arms.

Dr. Capogrosso says that while people still retain some of these neural connections, “They’re just not enough to enable movement.” The messages are weaker than normal.

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Dr. Douglas Weber, another of the study’s co-authors and professor of mechanical engineering at the Neuroscience Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, described how electrical pulses could strengthen those connections.

“The sensory nerves from the arm and hand send signals to motor neurons in the spinal cord that control the muscles of the limb. By stimulating these sensory nerves, we can amplify the activity of muscles that have been weakened by stroke. Importantly, the patient retains full control of their movements: The stimulation is assistive and strengthens muscle activation only when patients are trying to move.”

Dr. Capogrosso looks forward to what these results mean for future stroke treatment.

“We found that after a few weeks of use, some of these improvements endure when the stimulation is switched off, indicating exciting avenues for the future of stroke therapies.”

As of right now, the chronic stage of paralysis, which occurs six months or later after a stroke, cannot be treated effectively. However, this new simulation technology has promising potential, given that the benefits of the simulation persisted for up to four weeks after the end of the procedure with no serious side effects.

Study co-author Dr. Elvira Pirondini, an assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh, states, “Creating effective neurorehabilitation solutions for people affected by movement impairment after stroke is becoming ever more urgent.”

“Even mild deficits resulting from a stroke can isolate people from social and professional lives and become very debilitating, with motor impairments in the arm and hand being especially taxing and impeding simple daily activities, such as writing, eating and getting dressed.”

In the meantime, Rendulic has hope for the future. “I really hope and pray that this becomes widely available,” she says, “because I know it’s going to change so many lives.”