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Garlic offsets virulent bacterial strains

A new study has revealed that garlic contains a substance that is particularly effective in encounters with even the hardiest bacterial strains.

“We know that there is a potent chemical compound in the garlic plant that neutralises resistant bacteria by paralysing their communication system. My PhD thesis demonstrates that ajoene – the substance present in garlic – specifically prevents the bacteria from secreting the toxin rhamnolipid which destroys white blood cells in the body,” Tim Holm Jakobsen from University of Copenhagen said.

The researcher said that ajoene supports and improves treatment with conventional antibiotics.

“We have clearly demonstrated this on biofilm cultivated in the laboratory and in trials involving mice. When we add antibiotics to biofilm they have very little effect, and ajoene alone barely makes any difference. It is only when the two are combined that something significant happens,” Tim Holm Jakobsen explained.

Combination treatment with ajoene and antibiotics kills more than 90 per cent of the normally virulent biofilm.

From a technical perspective, the ajoene blocks the communication system – known as Quorum Sensing – in the bacteria, which is used for purposes including creating infection.
Nanodiamond-drug to improve glaucoma treatment

In what could be a significant step toward improving the management of glaucoma, researchers have created a drug delivery system that may have less severe side effects than traditional glaucoma medication and improve patients' ability to comply with their prescribed treatments.

The scientists bound together glaucoma-fighting drugs with nanodiamonds and embedded them onto contact lenses. The drugs are released into the eye when they interact with the patient's tears.

The new technology by the researchers from UCLA School of Dentistry showed great promise for sustained glaucoma treatment and, as a side benefit, the nanodiamond-drug compound even improved the contact lenses' durability.

The study was led by Dr Dean Ho, professor of oral biology and medicine and co-director of the Jane and Jerry Weintraub Center for Reconstructive Biotechnology at the UCLA School of Dentistry.

Nanodiamonds, which are byproducts of conventional mining and refining processes, are approximately five nanometers in diameter and are shaped like tiny soccer balls. They can be used to bind a wide spectrum of drug compounds and enable drugs to be released into the body over a long period of time.

To deliver a steady release of medication into the eye, the UCLA researchers combined nanodiamonds with timolol maleate, which is commonly used in eye drops to manage glaucoma. When applied to the nanodiamond-embedded lenses, timolol is released when it comes into contact with lysozyme, an enzyme that is abundant in tears.
Rhythm important for development of baby hearts

A new study has suggested that baby hearts need rhythm to develop correctly, even before they have blood to pump.

“We have discovered that mechanical forces are important when making baby hearts,” Mary Kathryn Sewell-Loftin, a Vanderbilt graduate student working with a team of Vanderbilt engineers, scientists and clinicians attempting to grow replacement heart valves from a patient’s own cells, said.

The team reported that they have taken an important step toward this goal by determining that the mechanical forces generated by the rhythmic expansion and contraction of cardiac muscle cells play an active role in the initial stage of heart valve formation.

A heart valve consists of two or three flaps, called leaflets, which open and close to control the flow of blood through the heart. It is designed well enough to cycle two to three billion times in a person’s lifetime. The researchers wanted to study how heart valves develop naturally so they can figure out how to duplicate the process. To do so, they designed a series of experiments with chickens, whose hearts develop in a fashion similar to the human heart.

“The discovery that the deformations produced by the beating cardiac muscle cells are important provides an entirely new perspective on the process,” said Merryman, who directed the three-year study.

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