The United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority banned one of HTC’s ads that have been running on social media since mid-last year. The ad in question features Olympic diver, Tom Daley, diving into a pool, feet first (after a flip or two), holding the HTC U11 over his head, taking selfies on his decent into the pool, and after being seen exit the pool with the phone in hand. . Despite having a disclaimer at the bottom, it wasn’t enough for the ASA to deem the ad as misleading. It highlighted the fact that the product’s instructions explicitly warn users against intentionally…
The platypus is, frankly, a weirdo. It’s one of the last surviving species of egg-laying mammals. It has venomous flippers. And that furry body combined with the duck bill? Looks like it belongs on evolution’s blooper reel.
And now another strange element of its biology is intriguing scientists: platypus milk contains a one-of-a-kind protein that could help us fight antibiotic resistance.
For nearly 70 years, antibiotics have been our go-to treatment option for a number of conditions, from gonorrhea to pneumonia. The more we’ve used them, the more resistant to antibiotics these bugs have become, resulting in some “superbugs” that don’t respond to several types of antibiotics.
That simple fact is putting millions of lives at risk every year in the U.S. alone. In 2016, the United Nations (UN) elevated the issue to “crisis level.” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called it a “fundamental, long-term threat to human health, sustainable food production, and development.”
Scientists have gotten increasingly creative in their search for anything that might help humanity fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In 2010, that led to the discovery that platypus milk contains antibacterial properties.
Unlike other mammals, which deliver milk to their young through teats, platypus “sweat” their milk, secreting it through the skin on their bellies for their young to drink. That leaves the offspring pretty exposed to the outside world, which may explain why platypus milk needs to contain antibacterial characteristics.
To find out exactly what makes the milk that way, a team of researchers from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and Deakin University set out to replicate one of its proteins in a lab setting.
Once they got a closer look at the protein’s structure, they were surprised to see something completely unique. The three-dimensional fold made the protein look like a ringlet. So naturally the team dubbed the protein “Shirley Temple,” a reference to the actress’ curly hair.
The researchers believe this unique structure could help develop new drugs to take down superbugs. They’re looking for collaborators to help them do more research with the intention of hastening a new antibiotic to market.
And truly, we have no time to lose.
The post Our Latest Weapon Against Antibiotic Resistance? Platypus Milk appeared first on Futurism.
Scientists are warning that the antibiotic resistance army has been joined by a new powerful enemy. For the first time, a team of researchers discovered that the gene responsible for drug resistance has spread to the bacteria Shigella flexneri, a main cause of potentially fatal diarrhea around the world.
In 2015, researchers discovered that the mcr-1 gene, which confers resistance to a “last resort” antibiotic called colistin, was spreading among pigs in Chinese farms via the gut bacteria Escherichia coli. Similar signs of resistance also emerged in farms in Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Thailand. For decades, antibiotics have been widely used in farming because they lessen disease risk, boosting animal growth and maximizing profits. Yet this practice has also made an increasing number of bacterial strains resistant to the agents designed to kill them off.
The latest research, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, screened a sample of more than 2000 bacteria taken from animal feces on a farm, from patients, and from the environment in China. The team identified the mcr-1 gene on a transferable plasmid, a genetic element that can jump between bacterial species, carrying drug resistance with them — in this case, from S. flexneri to E. coli and potentially other bacterial strains too.
Already, the world is running out of effective antibiotics. Infections that were easily treatable just a few years ago might soon become deadly again, rolling back decades of medical progress and costing the lives of millions, particularly in developing countries.
To make things worse, developing new antibiotics is not a profitable business for pharma companies. The research pipeline is long and the final product is cheap and short-lived, as new antibiotics quickly become obsolete.
Pneumonia and tuberculosis are already spreading in a drug resistant form. Now diarrheal disease could add to the threat.
“This is concerning, as S. flexneri is the main cause of Shigella infections in low and middle income countries,” said coauthor Adam P. Roberts, a lecturer in Antimicrobial Chemotherapy and Resistance with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, in a statement. Like drug-resistant tuberculosis, diarrhea caused by Shigella infections hits the developing world the most; annually, these infections already cause an estimated 1.1 million deaths, primarily in developing countries. Even so, antibiotic resistance can spread fast across the globe, including into wealthy countries like the United States.
“In order to try and control antimicrobial resistance, we need to understand the epidemiology of the resistance genes and how they move around,” Roberts said in the statement. “This work is part of that overall effort. Now that we know mcr-1 is functional and can transfer in Shigella we can monitor this situation to see if Shigella is responsible for transfer of this gene to other species.”
The study will help researchers understand new patterns of antibiotic resistance. But without developing new, more effective medicine, doctors won’t be able to stave off one of the biggest threats to public health of our time.
The post Antibiotic Resistance Has Made Another Dangerous “Jump” Between Species appeared first on Futurism.
Bloomberg reports that Apple has a couple of interesting features in store for upcoming versions of its AirPods wireless earbuds. We heard back in December 2017 that Apple had plans for new AirPods; this year, they’re slated to get a new wireless chip for improved wireless chip. That’ll allow for access to Siri without having to physically tap the earphones; you’ll be able to invoke the assistant with just a voice command. Next year, they’ll also be water resistant, so they won’t go kaput if you’re caught in the rain. That’s good news for Apple fans and people who are…
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Apple is planning some big upgrades for upcoming generations of its AirPods wireless earbuds, according to a new report. Those upgrades will be part of a larger effort to boost the company’s wearables business. And, like with the Apple Watch and its other products, the Cupertino firm will update new versions of its Bluetooth headphones […]
Apple is working on at least two new versions of its wireless AirPods earphones, according to a Bloomberg report this morning, with plans to release one as early as this year, and the second as early as next year. Each of the new models is expected to bolster existing features rather than radically changing the current, apparently successful formula.
Developed under the code name B288, the first new AirPods version is said to let users evoke Siri by saying “Hey Siri” rather than tapping on the earphone’s stem. It’s unclear whether Apple’s AI assistant Siri will gain additional functionality for AirPods or largely continue to be used for changing tracks, volume, and play/pause status.
B288 will also include “an upgraded Apple-designed wireless chip for managing Bluetooth connections.” The current AirPods model uses Apple’s W1 wireless chip, delivering five hours of battery life on a charge, and is compatible with Bluetooth 4. Apple has recently added Bluetooth 5 to recent iPhones and the HomePod, suggesting that the new AirPods will follow the same path.
The second new AirPods model will be designed to “survive splashes of water and rain” but is not intended for full submersion in water. Current AirPods are generally capable of withstanding sweat when used for indoor workouts but can be damaged when used in the rain or dropped in water.
Additionally, Apple’s website notes that an “optional wireless charging case [is] coming in 2018,” and Bloomberg mentions the case without discussing Apple’s plans for it. This case was originally shown during a sneak peek at AirPower, an Apple-developed charging mat compatible with last year’s new iPhone and Apple Watch models. In addition to being offered as an additional purchase for current AirPods users, the case might be bundled with one or both of the upcoming AirPods revisions, potentially pushing up the current $ 159 asking price.
Apple does not break out sales of AirPods in its lineup, but the wireless earphones are generally believed to be popular. The product was extremely difficult to get in the months following its December 2016 release, in part due to initial production constraints, and has been included in Apple’s growing Wearables category alongside the Apple Watch.
Apple is reportedly planning to treat AirPods like its flagship devices, releasing relatively frequent iterations — beginning with an update this year.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News
Apple’s release plans for new AirPods models have been divulged in a Bloomberg report this morning. The Cupertino company is said to be planning to refresh the AirPods, first released in late 2016, with a new model this year, whose highlight changes will be an improved wireless chip and the ability to activate Siri voice commands just by saying “Hey Siri.” Presently, you have to tap on one of the wireless earbuds to make that happen. Beyond 2018, Bloomberg goes on to suggest that Apple will make the AirPods water-resistant in a 2019 update.
In the world of headphones, popular models can go years without being updated, but in the world of Apple, fast and regular iteration is the more expected cadence. So it’s not a surprise to see Apple…
Antibiotic resistance in bacteria, which includes both common bugs and so-called superbugs, is a serious and globally recognized problem. In fact, the United Nations elevated the issue to a crisis level almost a year ago now, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that it’s rapidly worsening.
There are a multitude of possible responses to antibiotic resistance, and researchers from the Université de Montréal (UdeM) in Canada may have found another potential solution. In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports earlier this November, this team of researchers from UdeM’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine explored a method that could block the transfer of antibiotic resistance genes.
The researchers focused on preventing a mechanism that allows for antibiotic resistance genes to be coded onto plasmids —which are DNA fragments that can carry genes that encode the proteins that render bacteria drug-resistant. Concretely, they found the exact binding sites for these proteins, which are essential in plasmid transfer. This allowed them to design more potent chemical molecules which reduce the transfer of gene-carrying, antibiotic-resistant plasmids.
“You want to be able to find the ‘soft spot’ on a protein, and target it and poke it so that the protein cannot function,” Christian Baron, the vice-dean of R&D at UdeM’s faculty of medicine, said in a press release. “Other plasmids have similar proteins, some have different proteins, but I think the value of our study on TraE is that by knowing the molecular structure of these proteins we can devise methods to inhibit their function.”
A Deadly Problem
The effects of antibiotic resistant bacteria are pretty much self-explanatory. Antibiotics remain a critical piece of modern medicine, and when they become ineffective, what we’re left with are disease-causing superbugs that are much more difficult to treat and manage. Antibiotics are also used as prophylactic treatment during surgeries as well as in cancer therapies.
According to a report by a special commission set up in the United Kingdom in 2014 called the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, drug-resistant bacteria could take the lives of some 10 million people by 2050. This isn’t particularly difficult to imagine since antibiotic-resistant bacteria infect 2 million people in the U.S. alone every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and at least 23,000 of these cases are fatal. Additionally, the WHO reports that there are about 480,000 of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis cases around the world every year.
In short, antibiotic resistance is a problem we need to solve as soon as possible, starting now. Thankfully, there are a number of groups working on the issue, with a variety of approaches. Some have used CRISPR gene-editing to engineer synthetic nanobots that specifically target antibiotic-resistant bacteria and there are even efforts to employ “super enzymes” to fight off superbugs. Meanwhile, others like the UdeM researchers are focusing on a better understanding of how bacteria work to develop methods to render them more susceptible to antibiotics.
The CDC has already invested more than $ 14 million to fund research into antibiotic resistance, and we might soon see these efforts come to fruition. This will take time, obviously, but it could help to liven up the pace by which new drugs are produced. As Baron said, “[p]eople should have hope. Science will bring new ideas and new solutions to this problem. There’s a big mobilization now going on in the world on this issue. I wouldn’t say I feel safe, but it’s clear we’re making progress.”
The post Scientists Created a Synthetic Molecule, and It Could End Antibiotic Resistance appeared first on Futurism.