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Thu Apr 12, 2012, 04:22 AM

Drug-Resistant Bacteria Found in 4-Million-Year-Old Cave

Drug-Resistant Bacteria Found in 4-Million-Year-Old Cave
Microbes from pristine areas can battle modern medicine, study says.
Dave Mosher
for National Geographic News
Published April 11, 2012



Deep in the bowels of a pristine New Mexico cave, microbiologists have discovered nearly a hundred types of bacteria that can fight off modern antibiotic drugs.

The bacteria coat the walls of the Lechuguilla cave system on rock faces some 1,600 feet (487 meters) below Earth's surface. Until recently, the microscopic life-forms had encountered neither humans nor modern antibiotics.

That's because a thick dome of rock isolated the cave between four and seven million years ago. Any water that trickles through takes roughly ten thousand years to reach the cave's depths—which means the subterranean life has existed entirely in the absence of modern medicine.

While not infectious to humans, the cave bacteria can resist multiple classes of antibiotics, including new synthetic drugs. The discovery serves as an intriguing lead in the quest to understand how drug-resistant diseases emerge.

More:
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/04/120411-drug-resistance-bacteria-caves-diseases-human-health-science/

13 replies, 2677 views

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Reply Drug-Resistant Bacteria Found in 4-Million-Year-Old Cave (Original post)
Judi Lynn Apr 2012 OP
WillParkinson Apr 2012 #1
dipsydoodle Apr 2012 #2
xchrom Apr 2012 #3
zanana1 Apr 2012 #4
exboyfil Apr 2012 #5
OnyxCollie Apr 2012 #6
Occulus Apr 2012 #13
greiner3 Apr 2012 #7
Judi Lynn Apr 2012 #8
Judi Lynn Apr 2012 #9
Odin2005 Apr 2012 #10
Dead_Parrot Apr 2012 #11
Yo_Mama Apr 2012 #12

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Apr 12, 2012, 05:26 AM

1. I love science...

Thanks for sharing this.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Apr 12, 2012, 06:41 AM

2. Makes you wonder what they'll find in the water from Lake Vostok

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Apr 12, 2012, 06:48 AM

3. du rec. nt

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Apr 12, 2012, 06:58 AM

4. This science nerd thanks you.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Apr 12, 2012, 08:35 AM

5. The bacteria exchange DNA

This can be extremely dangerous. Someone with a staph or strep infection encounters this bacteria, and the bacteria exchange the immunity - we got real problems. The other thing is do we really want to encounter the mold?? that is driving this evolution. It sounds like one mean mother.

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Response to exboyfil (Reply #5)

Thu Apr 12, 2012, 02:17 PM

6. That's what I thought.

This sounds like a really bad idea.

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Response to exboyfil (Reply #5)

Thu Apr 12, 2012, 11:40 PM

13. It's a bit different

They're not exchanging immunities- they're firing on each other with their own chemical weapons. Since all these bacteria use them against each other, what the scientists are looking for are weapons we can use to fight off infections we suffer from that are becoming resistant to current antibiotics (such as MRSA).

I got what was either a staph or strep infection on my chin from a shaving comb about 18 months ago. Hideous experience (I could describe it but I won't) and it scared the hell out of me. We need more drugs to fight this bug, and what these people are doing may help in that effort.

Edited to add a quote from the article in post #8:

“What it means is that there’s also a broad range of antibiotics we’ve yet to discover,” said Dr. Barton, noting that the researchers have already isolated one and are working with a pharmaceutical company to develop it into a drug.


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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Apr 12, 2012, 02:53 PM

7. "ten thousand years to reach the cave's depths..."

"which means the subterranean life has existed entirely in the absence of modern medicine."

Uh, people, modern medicine has only existed, well, since modern times. The first person to make any microbe/bacterial advancements was Edward Jenner @1796 and his Smallpox vaccination.

Before this, blood letting and leeches were the norm, at least in the 'enlightened' Western medical communities.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Apr 12, 2012, 04:25 PM

8. Ancient cave discovery unlocks secrets of superbugs

Ancient cave discovery unlocks secrets of superbugs
SHERYL UBELACKER
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, Apr. 12, 2012 2:48PM EDT
Last updated Thursday, Apr. 12, 2012 3:18PM EDT

Deep inside a cave in New Mexico, researchers have made a startling discovery – bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, yet have been pristinely isolated from human contact for more than four million years.

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics – the infection-killing wonder drugs that began with mass-produced penicillin in the early 1940s – was long thought to have arisen because of wholesale and indiscriminate use of the medications to treat disease in both people and animals.

Over time, more and more disease-causing bacteria, including the superbug MRSA, are becoming immune to most antibiotics now in use. And the growing number of bugs mutating to dodge the killing effects of the drugs has researchers and pharmaceutical companies scrambling to find new agents.

But the discovery of species of naturally resistant bacteria in the Lechuguilla Cave, in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, represents a major leap in the understanding of resistance threatening the treatment of infectious diseases around the world.

More:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/new-health/health-news/ancient-cave-discovery-unlocks-secrets-of-superbugs/article2400159/

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Apr 12, 2012, 04:29 PM

9. Anti-Superbug Clues In Deep, Isolated Cave

Anti-Superbug Clues In Deep, Isolated Cave
Article Date: 12 Apr 2012 - 11:00 PDT

A deep, isolated cave in New Mexico harbors strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that might hold clues for fighting modern-day superbugs. The hope is the discovery means there are previously unknown antibiotics occurring naturally, that could be used to treat infections.

Researchers from McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and the University of Akron, in Akron, Ohio, USA, write about their findings in the 11 April online issue of PLoS ONE.

Resistance to antibiotics among bacteria is givig rise to superbugs like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and a growing concern for human health.

In extreme cases there is no drug that the bacteria are resistant to and the only option left to deal with the infection is surgery.

More:
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/244060.php

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Apr 12, 2012, 09:18 PM

10. Didn't Ebola originate from bats that live in a cave on Mt. Elgon in East Africa?

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #10)

Thu Apr 12, 2012, 09:33 PM

11. also Marburg, iirc

Makes you wonder what else is down there...

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Apr 12, 2012, 09:46 PM

12. It explains a lot, though

Wright has gone a long way toward proving his thesis.

Not good news for medicine, but knowing is always better than not knowing.

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