Microbiologists have been amazed to find a 1000 year old Anglo-Saxon remedy has the power to kill antibiotic-resistant MRSA.
The British Library in London holds an old leather-bound volume that is known as Bald’s Leechbook, that experts say is one of the world’s earliest medical manuscripts.
Bald’s Leechbook contains not only medical advice, but also recipes for various medicines, treatments and ointments, including one for a salve that was used to treat eye infections. It is this eye ointment that proved to kill antibiotic-resistant MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
Scientists at Nottingham University made four separate batches of the salve using fresh ingredients – garlic, onion, wine and cow bile – as well as a control treatment using the same quantity of distilled water and brass sheeting to mimic the brewing container but without the vegetable compounds. The salve was then strained and left to set for 9 days before testing commenced.
“Take cropleek and garlic, of both equal quantities, pound them well together…take wine and bullocks gall, mix with the leek…let it stand nine days in the brass vessel…” the medieval recipe instructs.
None of the individual ingredients alone had any measurable effect, but when combined according to the recipe, the Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) populations of bacteria, were almost totally obliterated – only about one bacterial cell in a thousand survived.
Image credit: Dirk-Jan Kraan
As spring has arrived, what better time to give your CV a thorough spring clean!
Your CV can be a powerful tool when it comes to marketing yourself to potential employers, and is often the first step taken towards securing that all-important first interview. Follow our tips below to ensure that your CV is appealing and content rich.
- Take out information that no longer supports your career goals. Irrelevant roles can be deleted or grouped together in an “Additional Experience” section to allow prominence of those that are more relevant.
- Get to the point! Keep sentences short yet informative.
- Easy-to-read and visually appealing text is preferable to densely packed paragraphs with information that ‘waffles’. Keep to the point, keep relevant.
- Keep it uniform – use the same font throughout and use bullet points to list duties.
- Choose a font that is easy to read on screen, experiment with sizes (smaller for company details, for example) and use bold to highlight key information.
- Tailor your CV to the role you are aiming for – ideally cross-reference the job description to ensure you are using appropriate keywords. Evidence is key!
- List your job duties beneath each position. List your achievements, responsibilities and results.
- Prioritise the order of your duties to match the requirements of the position you are applying for.
- Work experience should be in reverse chronological order – current job first.
- Use the past tense for previous jobs and the present tense for your current job.
- Explain any gaps in your work history – travelling, maternity leave, education.
- Thinking of changing career direction? Returning to a previous job? Aiming for a promotion? Older experience such as previous roles, skills, achievements, training, projects etc may now be more relevant!
- Be prepared to rework the theme and layout of your CV. You may want to re-position older details to make them more prominent, or highlight different aspects of your experience to make them appear more relevant for your current goals.
- Obtained a new professional or personal achievement? Additional duties added to your role? Constantly updating your CV every time a relevant happening occurs within your current role or personal life will assure that your CV is always ready and up to date, should the perfect opportunity arise.
Image credit: 3dpete
A research group in Japan has carried out a study which suggests that roundworms can be used to accurately detect cancers in patients through odours in their urine.
The nematodes (or roundworms) used in the study were attracted to the urine of cancer patients and avoided the urine of the healthy candidates taking part. Their behaviour provides a more useful method of detection than that afforded by dogs which have also been used in cancer detection. The dog’s ability to concentrate on the task affects the accuracy of diagnosis; an issue avoided through the use of nematodes.
The researchers were able to identify five cancer-positive patients who were not recognized as such when their urine was obtained.
The group is now working to produce a screening device incorporating this method to be put to use commercially as early as 2019. The test is painless and would allow for urine samples to be taken at home and then along to a testing site. A patient’s results could then be obtained within ninety minutes in a process which would save time and reduce medical costs.
The nematodes detected cancers at an earlier stage than conventional testing, allowing for the possibility of earlier screenings and diagnosis in the future. Earlier treatment for those testing positive could also be achieved. With the sensitivity of the test placed at 95.8% (higher than tumour-marker diagnosis tests conducted using blood samples) more accurate results may be attained.
Although this method of testing cannot detect which type of cancer a person is suffering from, researchers have succeeded in developing nematodes to react in different ways to specific cancers.
Image credit: John Donges
A bionic eye implant has been used to allow Allen Zderad, a man who has been blind for the past ten years, to see outlines of people and objects for the first time since losing his vision.
Zderad suffers from a degenerative condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa that causes the cells in the retina which collect light to die. Prior to the use of the implant, he was only able to see very bright light and relied on a cane to assist his mobility.
The bionic eye implant is made by Second Sight and was given to Zderad as part of a clinical trial. It is named Retinal Prosthesis and consists of a small electronic chip that is placed at the back of the eye. This chip sends visual signals directly into the optic nerve, bypassing the damaged cells in the retina.
A set of glasses containing a tiny camera makes up the external part of the device alongside a small computer the patient wears around their waist. The camera in the glasses takes pictures replicating those gathered by the human eye and feeds the information to the computer. The images are translated into light signals which pass through a wireless transmitter to electrodes in the patient’s eye. The electrodes transmit the light signals to the brain through the rest of the retina and the optic nerve cells which remain healthy.
Zderad was given the implant as part of a clinical trial and was immediately able to reach out and take his wife’s hand as the implant was activated. He is about to undertake a course of physical therapy which will better enable him to interpret the light signals from the implant.
Image credit: Desirae
Spider silk is a protein fibre spun by spiders, and is stronger than steel and tougher than Kevlar! Spiders use their silk to make webs or other structures, which function as nets to catch other animals, or as nests or cocoons to protect their offspring. They can also use their silk to suspend themselves.
Efforts to create our own spider silk have so far failed to match the real thing. Now a German research group has equalled its toughness.
Previous attempts have focussed on two molecules that provide material properties. However, Thomas Scheibel at the University of Bayreuth in Germany and his colleagues realised that this neglected two smaller molecules that help align the strands. His team spliced spider genes into E. coli, which enabled the bacteria to produce all four molecules in a bath of alcohol and water. The team then used a method called wet spinning to draw out the fibres, creating the artificial silk.
The material is not as strong as real silk, but is more elastic, so it can absorb as much energy as the real thing.
The toughness of the current fibre can be put to good use in making car airbags. “An airbag should have exactly the properties that a spider web has,” says Scheibel – strong and elastic. Current airbags, made from materials like Kevlar, are strong but not elastic, so they can reflect energy from a crash back into the driver and cause injuries. The artificial silk could solve this, provided the team can scale up production, which might be difficult, says Scheibel.
Image credit: Alias 0591