Newswise — Mapping blood flow in the brain of athletes using an advanced form of ultrasound may make it easier to more accurately recognize concussions, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 68th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada. “There is growing evidence that concussions can change the blood flow in the brain,” said study author Robert Hamilton, PhD, co-founder of Neural Analytics in Los Angeles, Calif., and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “While such changes may be detected with MRI, we believe there may be a less expensive and portable way to measure these changes with a transcranial Doppler (TCD) device.” More than one million athletes experience a concussion each year in the United States.TCD uses ultrasound to map blood flow activity in the brain. Traditionally, it has measured variables like the speed and variability (pulse) of blood flowing through the arteries. But those measurements haven’t been enough to accurately detect concussion. For this study, researchers used an advanced version of TCD ultrasound to get a more complete picture of just how the blood moves through the middle cerebral artery, one of the three major arteries in the brain. Researchers compared a group of 66 high school athletes in contact sports who had been recently diagnosed with a concussion to a control group of 169 high school student athletes from both contact and non-contact sports. Examples of collision sports included in the study were football, soccer, basketball, hockey, water polo and lacrosse. The non-contact sports included were cheerleading, cross country, cycling, tennis and track. Both the control and concussion groups were approximately 30 percent female. Each of the concussed athletes had their brain blood flow measured with the advanced ultrasound headset within an average of six days after the injury. They were also given a general concussion evaluation and had their blood pressure checked. The study found that the advanced version of TCD ultrasound was able to differentiate between healthy and concussed athletes 83 percent of the time. This is in contrast to traditional TCD ultrasound measurements like change in cerebral blood flow reactivity which differentiated between the two 60 percent of the time, average blood flow speed which differentiated 55 percent of the time and blood flow resistance which differentiated 53 percent of the time. “This research suggests that this advanced form of ultrasound may provide a more accurate diagnosis of concussion,” said Hamilton. “While more research is needed, the hope is such a tool could one day be used on the sidelines to help determine more quickly whether an athlete needs further testing.” “This important work provides insight into a tool that may yet prove useful in the recognition and management of concussion,” said Jeffrey Kutcher, MD, FAAN, with the The Sports Neurology Clinic in Brighton, Michigan. “The potential of having an accessible technology that detects a physiological change following brain trauma is very exciting. However, what these detected blood flow changes mean to a patient’s clinical care is still unclear.” “This is an important area of research. Testing of the TCD technique at the sideline at the time of injury will be an important next step to determine its ultimate utility,” said Randolph S. Marshall, MD, MS, with Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York and a member of the American Academy of Neurology’s Science Committee. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Learn more about concussion at www.aan.com/concussion, where you can access the AAN’s Sports Concussion Guideline, QuickCheck app, and other resources. The American Academy of Neurology, an association of 30,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.
Newswise — PRNewswire/ -- Virginia Mason Institute, a leading lean education resource for health care organizations, just released a new improvement story that outlines how a pharmaceutical error had a profound effect on a patient, leaders and staff — and eventually the processes. Problems Lean Solves, An Improvement Story - Medication Error Sparked Team Engagement, Innovation and the Patient Safety PursuitHow did the team uncover the systemic cause of the problem, and how did they dramatically reduce defects in the process to make sure such an event never happened again? Click here to read how the team discovered the problem and put a long term solution in place to keep patients safe. At Virginia Mason Institute, the lean methods we teach — and our primary source of inspiration — come from the remarkable work our colleagues do every day at Virginia Mason. Read about some of the improvement work we've created, implemented and sustained to make care dramatically better for patients, providers and staff. How a Medication Error Spurred Team Engagement, Innovation and Patient SafetyClick here to read full improvement story.Interested in learning more? Connect with us and become an email subscriber. Click here to subscribe via our Knowledge Base. Share on TwitterShare on LinkedIn Share on Facebook About Virginia Mason Institute Virginia Mason Institute provides lean coaching and education to organizations worldwide to improve patient safety, quality and efficiency. Our certified lean experts help health care leaders embed a sustainable lean culture that produces better care and improved patient and staff satisfaction. Contact: Elaine Riordan, Public Relations SpecialistPhone: (206) 341.1600 Email: email@example.com Website: www.virginiamasoninstitute.org Virginia Mason Institute - Transformation of Health Care (PRNewsFoto/Virginia Mason Institute)Photo -http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160413/355037 Logo -http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160112/321383LOGO
Newswise — Scientists at the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine and Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) have identified a human (host) protein that weakens the immune response to HIV and other viruses. The findings, published today in Cell Host & Microbe, have important implications for improving HIV antiviral therapies, creating effective viral vaccines, and advance a new approach to treat cancer. “Our study provides critical insight on a paramount issue in HIV research: Why is the body unable to mount an efficient immune response to HIV to prevent transmission?” said Sumit Chanda, Ph.D., professor and director of SBP’s Immunity and Pathogenesis Program and co-senior author of the study. “This research shows that the host protein NLRX1 is responsible—it’s required for HIV infection and works by repressing the innate immune response.” The innate immune response works by producing a cascade of signaling chemicals (interferons and cytokines) that trigger cytotoxic T cells to kill pathogens. Increasing evidence suggests that mounting an early, potent innate immune response is essential for the control of HIV infection, and may improve the effectiveness of vaccines. “Importantly, we were able to show that deficiencies in NLRX1 reduce HIV replication, suggesting that the development of small molecules to modulate the innate immune response may inhibit viral transmission and promote immunity to infection,” said Chanda. “We anticipate expanding our research to identify NLRX1 inhibitors.”How NLRX1 reduces innate immunity to HIV Although HIV is a single-stranded RNA virus, after it infects an immune cell it’s rapidly reverse transcribed into DNA, increasing the level of DNA found in the fluid portion of a cell (cytosol). Elevated cytosolic DNA triggers a sensor called STING (stimulator of interferon genes) that turns on the innate immune response. “Until now, the mechanism by which NLRX1 promoted HIV infection was unexplored. We have shown that NLRX1 interacts directly with STING, essentially blocking its ability to interact with an enzyme called TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK1),” said Haitao Guo, Ph.D., senior postdoctoral research associate in the laboratory of Jenny Ting, Ph.D., a University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center member, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the UNC School of Medicine and lead author of the study. “The STING-TBK1 interaction is a critical step for interferon production in response to elevated cytosolic DNA, and initiates the innate immune response.” “This research expands our understanding of the role of host proteins in viral replication and the innate immune response to HIV infection, and can be extended to DNA viruses such as HSV and vaccinia,” added Guo. Relevance to cancer “Our discovery that NLRX1 reduces the immune response to HIV is similar to the discovery of host immune checkpoints, such as PD-L1 and CTLA-1, that control the immune response to cancer,” said Ting, co-senior author of the study. Immune checkpoints are immunological “brakes” that prevent the over-activation of the immune system on healthy cells. Tumor cells often take advantage of these checkpoints to escape detection of the immune system. Several FDA-approved drugs that target checkpoints, called checkpoint inhibitors, are now available to treat certain cancers. “Checkpoint inhibitors have made a huge impact on cancer treatment, and significant investment by the biotech/pharmaceutical sector is being made to identify STING inhibitors as the next generation of immune-oncology therapeutics,” said Ting. “This study, showing that NLRX1 is a checkpoint of STING, sheds more light on the topic and will help advance those efforts.” # # #
Newswise — Want to know if your child’s height and weight are on track? Check the growth chart that the doctor gives you after each yearly checkup. Want to know if your child’s brain is on track for healthy attention abilities? Someday, your doctor might have a growth chart for that too. New research from the University of Michigan Medical School suggests that it might be possible to create a growth chart of brain networks that could identify early signs of attention difficulties and, potentially, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The team created the experimental growth chart by mapping the development of brain networks in more than 500 children and teens. They found networks are underdeveloped in those who have attention difficulties. While it’s far too soon to start offering such charting to families, future development of the technique could mean better chances for children to get a firm diagnosis of ADHD sooner. It could also help track whether their ADHD treatment is improving their attention functioning, which can help them in school and life. Growth charts as biomarkers The research, published in JAMA Psychiatry, shows the potential for brain imaging “biomarkers” for attention problems. But the idea could extend to other psychological conditions. Traditional growth charts show a child’s height and weight as points on curves that are based on data from hundreds of thousands of other children, and indicate normal, near-normal and problematic development. “Growth charts enable a family and their physician to quickly spot problematic development, and when necessary, intervene appropriately,” said team leader and U-M psychiatrist Chandra Sripada, M.D., Ph.D. “In the future, we want to provide clinicians with the same sort of guidance about brain development that we can about things like height and weight.” Maturing networks The researchers launched the growth-charting research after noticing a gap in the state of the science. Lead author Daniel Kessler explains, “We knew that the ability to sustain attention for an extended time increases dramatically during childhood and adolescence. We also knew that over the same time period, there are big changes in brain networks involved in attention. We came up with the idea of growth charting as a way to test if these two patterns were related: Would children with underdeveloped brain networks also have more difficulty with attention?” Along with colleague Michael Angstadt, MAS, the researchers used data from 519 children and teens who had genetic testing, brain imaging and tests of their cognitive development as part of the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort based at the University of Pennsylvania. The researchers created growth charts that reflected the configuration of what are called intrinsic connectivity networks -- important units of functional brain organization. The way these networks interact may hold the key to healthy attention. For example, one called the default mode network seems to be involved in daydreaming and inwardly focused thought, whereas another set of networks are involved in cognitively demanding tasks. As we grow from children into adults, these two systems become more defined and separate, working in tandem like pistons: when one is on, the other turns off. But in children and those with attention difficulties, the “pistons” often misfire: the default mode network turns on and interrupts the other networks thereby interrupting attention. The researchers who gathered the data that the growth chart is based on measured attention functioning using a standard test in which children had to respond to a sequence of letters and numbers on a computer screen. The Michigan researchers then compared the brain development seen on the scans to attention functioning. It turned out they could actually predict how well a child would do on the attention test based on their place on (or off) the brain network growth chart. The children with ADHD symptoms, and those with the lowest performance for their age on the attention tests, were the furthest off the curve of brain network development. “These brain network growth charts show real promise,” said Sripada. “But they are far away from being ready for clinical use.” Future research paths The research used advanced MRI imaging, but Sripada and his colleagues hope to develop ways to track network maturity using less-expensive techniques such as electroencephalography, or EEG. They’re working with other U-M researchers, led by Mary Heitzeg, Ph.D., and Robert Zucker, Ph.D., to see if the growth charting method will be useful in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study (ABCD for short) that will involve 10,000 teens over several years. “The ABCD study is unprecedented in size and provides a real chance to develop definitive growth charts for brain networks,” explained Sripada. “We have the opportunity to understand how brain network development relates to a variety of outcomes, including cognition, emotion, personality, and behavior.”
Newswise — What do you do when you’re out in public and you witness what you believe to be child abuse? The standard suggestions are to:• start a conversation with the adult to direct attention away from the child.• talk to the child to refocus his or her energy.• look for an opportunity to praise the parent or child.• offer assistance.• avoid negative remarks or looks. In many situations, those are easier said than done. According to Dr. Lori Frasier, director of the Center for the Protection of Children at Penn State Children’s Hospital, it’s a judgment call. “I think it's hard because people might be fearful to intervene,” Frasier said. “It does take a special person to take action when they see something that they think might be abuse. It’s important to consider that if someone is doing something like this in public and they don't care who sees them, what will they do in the privacy of their own home? It could be worse.” What is – and isn’t – abuse? Frasier said it’s hard to know what constitutes abuse. “What is abusive to one person may not be to another,” Frasier said. The law states that child abuse is subjecting a child to bodily injury, neglect or sexual abuse. Some examples include shaking, hitting, kicking, punching or burning a child. “The law states that you must have a reasonable suspicion of abuse in order to report it,” Frasier said. “You don't have to know for sure.” While physical abuse, like hitting or kicking is easy to recognize, verbal abuse like berating, screaming or threatening, can be a gray area. When should you call ChildLine or 911? ChildLine (1-800-932-0313) is available 24 hours a day to accept calls regarding suspected child abuse from mandated reporters as well as the general public in Pennsylvania. Each call is answered by a trained specialist who determines the most appropriate course of action. Callers are asked to provide the child’s name, location and name of the offender. ChildLine then contacts Child Protective Services in the appropriate area, which must respond within 24 hours. “Child and Family Services have to have a way to find out who a child is,” Frasier said. “If you think a child is at risk and needs an immediate response, call the police.” Try to intervene If you are able to intervene, try not to be aggressive or critical, which could put you at risk. "In such a moment, a parent is under great stress and they may not take it well if someone tells them they’re doing something wrong," Frasier said. If you are able to assess the situation and can determine the cause of the stress, you may be able to offer help. Because of distrust of strangers, the offer may be met negatively. Be willing to step back if there is a poor response. Sharing your own struggles of parenthood might be a better approach. "It's important to be relatable to the person; that you're not there to judge them; you've been in their shoes. We've all been in those shoes when we get frustrated," she said. Frasier believes we all have an obligation to protect children. "You don't want to think it's none of your business and then a couple of days later realize that that same child you were worried about has been killed or seriously injured," she said. Frasier had a case where a bystander in Walmart alerted security of a child covered in bruises. The guard called police. "They didn't confront the family directly, but they felt the situation looked scary enough that they needed to alert somebody," she said, noting their suspicions were correct. "It is everybody's business. To not intervene is a mistake," Frasier said.
Newswise — New research in monkeys exposed to SIV, the animal equivalent of HIV, reveals what happens in the very earliest stages of infection, before virus is even detectable in the blood, which is a critical but difficult period to study in humans. The findings, published online today in the journal Cell, have important implications for vaccine development and other strategies to prevent infection. “The events during the first few days after exposure to the virus and prior to the initial detection of virus in the blood are critical in determining the course of infection, but this period is essentially impossible to study in humans,” said lead author Dan Barouch, MD, PhD, Director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Our study is the most comprehensive evaluation of acute HIV/SIV infection to date.” The study was initiated as part of the National Institutes of Health–funded Consortium for AIDS Vaccine Research and involved multiple collaborating laboratories, including those headed by Rafick-Pierre Sekaly, PhD, of Case Western Reserve University and Jeffrey Lifson, MD, of the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research. When Barouch and his colleagues exposed 44 rhesus monkeys to SIV and conducted analyses of the animals on days 0, 1, 3, 7 and 10 following exposure, they found that SIV could disseminate rapidly through the body, with viral RNA (SIV’s genetic material) present in at least one tissue outside the reproductive tract in most monkeys analyzed 24 hours after exposure. “In addition to rapid viral dissemination, the virus triggered a local inflammatory response that appears to suppress antiviral innate and adaptive immunity, thus potentially augmenting its own replication,” explained Barouch. “These data provide important insights into the earliest events of infection.” The inflammatory response occurred in virus-infected tissues soon after exposure to SIV, and increasing amounts of viral RNA correlated with rising amounts of a host protein called NLRX1, which inhibits antiviral immune responses. In addition, the TGF-beta cell-signaling pathway, which suppresses adaptive immune responses, was triggered and correlated with lower levels of antiviral T immune cell responses, as well as higher levels of SIV replication. The researchers observed elevated expression of genes in the TGF-beta pathway in tissues that contained viral RNA as early as day 1 after exposure to the virus. The findings suggest that there may be a very narrow window of opportunity to contain or eliminate the virus. HIV prevention strategies should take these factors into account. “We believe that these insights into early HIV/SIV infection will be critical for the development of interventions to block infection, such as vaccines, antibodies, microbicides and drugs,” Barouch said. “The next step in this line of research is to evaluate how various interventions may impact these early events.”
Newswise — Previous research on an apparent narrowing of the historical “gender gap” in drinking prevalence found that girls were more likely to start drinking before 18 years of age compared to boys. This research seeks to extend these epidemiological findings by estimating the fine-grained, age-specific incidence of becoming a drinker among 12- to 24-year-old U.S. males and females, and comparing incidence estimates with prevalence proportions. Researchers examined a population comprised of 12- to-24-year-old, non-institutionalized U.S. civilian residents. The participants were drawn from 12 successive U.S. National Surveys on Drug Use and Health: nationally representative samples drawn each year from 2002 to 2013 and assessed via computer-assisted self-interviews (n~=390,000). Results confirm that the so-called “gender gap” in the risk of becoming a drinker has narrowed to the point of being no gap at all. In fact, during mid-adolescence the risk of starting to drink is greater for females than for males. That said, a greater prevalence of recently active drinking was subsequently seen in males after 19 years of age.
Newswise — In the U.S., where one of five children entering elementary school is overweight, a healthy diet is critical for preschool children, who are setting their eating patterns for the future. In 2009, more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk were included in the food voucher package provided by USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). As a result, the diet quality improved for the roughly 4 million children who are served by WIC, according to a study by researchers at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, UC San Francisco and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Nutrition Policy Institute. “Although the findings only showed significant improvement for consumption of greens and beans, the other areas for which WIC has put in important efforts – increased consumption of whole fruits rather than fruit juice, increased whole grains – all show trends in the right direction,” said lead author June Tester, a physician at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, “and there is opportunity for further study in the future when more years have passed after this landmark change in the WIC package.” For the UC study, to be published Thursday, April 7, in the April issue of the journal Pediatrics, researchers analyzed the diets of 1,197 children, ages 2 to 4 years, from low-income households before and after the 2009 change in the food package. The researchers used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to compare a nationally representative sample from 2003 to 2008 with diets in 2011 to 2012. The researchers calculated the Healthy Eating Index (HEI-2010), which is a score with 100 possible points measuring adherence to dietary guidelines, from two recalls by parents of their children’s diets over the previous 24-hour period. For children in households using WIC, this score increased from 52.4 to 58.3 after the policy change. After adjusting for characteristics in the sample and trends in the comparison group, the researchers showed that there was an increase of 3.7 points that was attributable to the WIC package change. This represents important evidence of an improvement in the diets for these children in WIC households. “Vegetables are part of a healthful diet, but in general, children don’t eat enough of them,” Tester said. Using the Healthy Eating Index, the researchers calculated the Greens and Beans score, which counts dark green vegetables and includes any legumes, such as beans and peas, that were not already counted as protein foods on a different score. After the food package was changed, the Greens and Beans score increased for children in WIC but not for their counterparts. Roughly half of the children in WIC households had eaten some vegetables, whereas only one in five non-WIC children had consumed any green vegetables at all in the two days their parents were surveyed. The change in the WIC food package is an important policy change in the effort to improve the quality of diets of young children, said Tester, a pediatrician. Tester noted that the results of this study will be useful to the Institute of Medicine committee that is reviewing and assessing the nutritional status and food needs of the WIC-eligible population and the impact of the 2009 revision to WIC food packages. The committee will make recommendations for changing the food packages. “Increasing consumption of nutritious foods such as green leafy vegetables and whole grains in the low-income children served by WIC will help them establish healthier eating patterns for their future,” said co-author Patricia Crawford, UC Cooperative Extension nutrition specialist with UC ANR’s Nutrition Policy Institute. The switch from whole milk to low-fat milk was well received by the clientele and did not result in decreased milk consumption among the preschoolers, noted Tester, Crawford and co-author Cindy Leung, postdoctoral scholar at UCSF Center for Health and Community. This study is the first to report on the significant improvements in diet quality in young children associated with the WIC package change using a nationally representative sample, and the first to do so with the updated Healthy Eating Index (HEI-2010). The National Institutes for Health funded this study.
Newswise — There may be a hidden cost to the old adage of pulling oneself up by the bootstraps: Research out of the University of Georgia suggests the unintended stress spurred by upward mobility can pose an unintended health risk later down the road. Previous studies have shown the negative health effect that stress can cause, particularly on people coming from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. But this study specified the approach and narrowed it down to just look at the effect on “future oriented” adolescents who strive to break the cycle and earn higher levels of education and income. Researchers in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences, including professor K.A.S. Wickrama, assistant research scientist Catherine O’Neal and graduate student Tae Kyoung Lee, combed through a 13-year national study that contained clinical health data from over 11,000 participants as they aged into adulthood. They found that young adults who come from adverse backgrounds—but also show resilience to break that pattern and achieve a higher social status—are more likely to be unhealthy later in life than those not motivated to change their circumstances. Specifically, the researchers found that stress increased participants’ risk of developing cardio-metabolic diseases, like diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The study, published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, relied on self-reported stress from participants to determine the cause and clinical markers including blood pressure, body mass index, glucose levels and others to determine subsequent health effects. As young adults work to break the cycle of poverty or strive toward being the first in their family to go to college, they experience a disproportionate burden of stress—and were not resilient in terms of their future health due to the combined burden of lived adversity and striving to change it. This stress is then likely to cause irreversible weathering in their body systems. “The act of striving for socioeconomic attainment is itself stressful for youth already experiencing stressful life events,” said Wickrama, the Athletic Association Professor in Human Development and Family Science. The findings suggest that although there may be long-term health benefits associated with increased socioeconomic status, there may also be consequences due to the subsequent mental and physical strain. The notion seems counterintuitive at first, but the relationship between stress and health risks has been shown before. This study shows the intensification of health effects for future-oriented youth with a stressful family background. Researchers said that the study shows the need for institutional policy that supports young people who show signs of future upward orientation and come from disadvantaged backgrounds. “In order to reduce health vulnerability and the burden that comes as a cost of succeeding,” said O’Neal, at-risk youth “need support through preventative measures.”
Newswise — A research team led by University of Arkansas chemist Jingyi Chen and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences microbiologist Mark Smeltzer has developed an alternative therapeutic approach to fighting antibiotic-resistant infections. The novel method uses a targeted, light-activated nanodrug consisting of antibiotic-loaded nanoconstructs, which are nanoscale cages made of gold and coated with polydopamine. The antibiotic is loaded into the polydopamine coating. The gold nanocages convert laser irradiation to heat, resulting in the photothermal effect and simultaneously releasing the antibiotic from the polydopamine coating. “We believe that this approach could facilitate the effective treatment of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including those associated with bacterial biofilms, which are involved in a wide variety of bacterial infections,” said Chen, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. Microbial resistance to antibiotics has become a growing public health concern in hospitals and the community at large, so much so that the Infectious Diseases Society of America has designated six bacterial species as “ESKAPE pathogens” – Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterobacter species. This designation reflects the limited availability of antibiotics that can be used to treat infections caused by these species. “It is also estimated that 80 percent of all bacterial infections involve formation of a biofilm, and all of these infections share the common characteristic of intrinsic resistance to conventional antibiotic therapy,” said Smeltzer, professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UAMS and director of the Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Host Inflammatory Responses. “Intrinsic resistance refers to the fact that bacteria within a biofilm exhibit a therapeutically relevant level of resistance to essentially all antibiotics." Researchers in Smeltzer’s laboratory study the ESKAPE pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. They focus on how the pathogen causes biofilm-associated bone infection and infections associated with orthopaedic implants. But, as Smeltzer explains, there are many other examples in infections – intravenous catheters and vascular grafts, for example – caused by Staphylococcus aureus. The team used Staphylococcus aureus as the proof-of-principle pathogen to demonstrate the potency of their nanodrug. The combination of achieving a photothermal effect and controlled release of antibiotics directly at the site of infection was achieved by laser irradiation at levels within the current safety standard for use in humans. The therapeutic effects of this approach were validated using planktonic bacterial cultures – bacterial cells that are free-floating rather than contained with a biofilm – of both methicillin-sensitive and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains. However, the method was subsequently shown to be effective even in the context of an intrinsically resistant biofilm. “The even better news is that the technology we developed would be readily adaptable to other bacterial pathogens that cause such infections, including the other ESKAPE pathogens,” Smeltzer said. The researchers’ work was recently published in ACS Infectious Diseases, a publication of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and “the first journal to highlight chemistry and its role in the multidisciplinary and collaborative field of infectious disease research.”