New blood test can predict TB up to two years in advance

A new blood test has been found to more accurately predict the development of tuberculosis up to two years before its onset in people living with someone with active TB, according to research published online in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, an American Thoracic Society journal. Those living with someone with active TB are at highest risk for developing the disease, yet only about 5-20 percent of people infected with tuberculosis actually develop TB. A blood test that predicts the development of TB without putting large numbers of lower-risk people through unnecessary preventative treatment is not currently available. In “Four-gene Pan-African Blood Signature Predicts Progression to Tuberculosis,” researchers from an international research consortium report that they developed and validated a blood test that measures the expression levels of four genes that can more accurately predict the development […]

A new class of antibiotics to combat drug resistance

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Nosopharm, a biotechnology company based in Lyon, France, are part of an international team reporting on the discovery of a new class of antibiotics. The antibiotic, first identified by Nosopharm, is unique and promising on two fronts: its unconventional source and its distinct way of killing bacteria, both of which suggest the compound may be effective at treating drug-resistant or hard-to-treat bacterial infections. Called odilorhabdins, or ODLs, the antibiotics are produced by symbiotic bacteria found in soil-dwelling nematode worms that colonize insects for food. The bacteria help to kill the insect and, importantly, secrete the antibiotic to keep competing bacteria away. Until now, these nematode-associated bacteria and the antibiotics they make have been largely understudied. To identify the antibiotic, the Nosopharm research team screened 80 cultured strains of the bacteria for […]

Arts and humanities in medical school promote empathy and inoculate against burnout

Medical students who spend more time engaging in the arts may also be bolstering the qualities that improve their bedside manner with patients, according to new research from Tulane and Thomas Jefferson universities. The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, finds that students who devoted more time to the humanities in medical school had significantly higher levels of positive physician attributes like empathy, tolerance of ambiguity, wisdom and emotional intelligence while at the same time reporting lower levels of adverse traits like burnout. “The humanities in medical school curricula have often been pushed to the side, but our data suggests that exposure to the arts are linked to important personal qualities for future physicians,” said senior author Marc Kahn, MD, MBA, MACP, the Peterman-Prosser Professor and Senior Associate Dean in the Tulane University School of Medicine. “This is the first study to show […]

Proper exercise can reverse damage to aging hearts

Exercise can reverse damage to  aging hearts and help prevent risk of future heart failure — if it’s enough exercise, and if it’s begun in time, according to a new study by cardiologists at UT Southwestern and Texas Health Resources. To reap the most benefit, the exercise regimen should begin by late middle age (before age 65), when the heart apparently retains some plasticity and ability to remodel itself, according to the findings by researchers at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine (IEEM), which is a collaboration between UT Southwestern Medical Center and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. And the exercise needs to be performed four to five times a week. Two to three times a week was not enough, the researchers found in an earlier study. “Based on a series of studies performed by our team over the […]