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MiSAC News

This web page will provide information for visitors to MiSAC about new initiatives and developments, publications about microbes from other sources and stories about microbes in the news.

MiSAC Twitter account

MiSAC has created a Twitter account; please refer to our Contact us page. You can use Twitter to discover news of publications, our annual competition, courses, health & safety issues and ask questions.

A Guide to Vaccinations for COVID-19

This guide, produced by the British Society for Immunology, explains how vaccines work and answers common questions, as well as providing up-to-date information on the current approved COVID-19 vaccinations in the UK. Click here to download the guide.

COVID-19 Worksheets

Dr Mark Levesley has produced a suite of 21 worksheets, freely available, for work at KS3 and 4 which links Covid-19 to various topics in biology. Each worksheet has 3 pages, providing information, questions & exercises and answers. A further suite of worksheets does not provide the answers. Click here for the Covid-19 worksheets web site.

Climate Change: Microbes as our Allies

This new publication has recently been issued by the Microbiology Society in which research has shown how microbes can be used to avoid climate catastrophes. Click here to download the document.

Microbes in the News

New Scientist occasionally prints stories of the activities of microbes which provide interesting reading. Printed here are résumés of five recently-published articles. For subscribers, a link is provided to the original source.

A virus's link to causing multiple sclerosis

It has been suspected for some time that the common Epstein-Barr virus can trigger multiple sclerosis (MS). A study of 10 million military personnel in the USA has shown that virtually every case of diagnosed MS is preceded by an infection by the virus, which is spread via saliva, for example, in kissing. Initial infections by the virus may cause few, if any, symptoms but, once it enters the immune B cells, the virus lurks there permanently. Producing a vaccine against Epstein-Barr could reduce the incidence of MS.

Almost everyone has been infected by the Epstein-Barr virus so it is difficult to show that it is the trigger for MS. However, in the 10 million US personnel studied, 955 developed MS. Only one of the soldiers who developed MS tested negative for antibodies against Epstein-Barr.

Click here for the original article.

Edible straws made by bacteria beat plastic and paper

Cellulose is produced by many types of bacteria when they feed on sugars. Researchers air-dried the cellulose and dipped it into sodium alginate, a carbohydrate found in algae. This fills in the holes in the cellulose structure that would otherwise absorb water. The alginate allows flat sheets of the bacterial cellulose to be rolled up into straws and hold its shape without glue.

The bacterial cellulose straws biodegrade faster than plastic, don't release microplastics and don't go soggy and bend which paper straws are prone to do. Because bacterial cellulose and sodium alginate are already used in food products, they are quite safe and edible. Compared with other biodegradable straws, these new bacterial products cost 0.3 US cents per straw - the same as plastic straws and one-tenth the cost of paper ones.

Click here for the original article.

Long-haul fight

Alongside the 5.8 million people who have died from the Covid-19 virus, tens of millions more have long covid: a lingering condition with more than 200 symptoms that last for months or years. These include shortness of breath, post-exercise exhaustion and "brain fog". Many "long haulers" complain they have had little help from doctors. We now know that certain people are more at risk: if they have type 2 diabetes, if they have "autoantibodies" attacking their tissues, if pieces of the virus's genome are still circulating in their blood and if they have previously been infected with Epstein-Barr virus.

The theory of Covid viruses lingering in the body is supported by the reduction of symptoms when monoclonal antibody vaccinations are given to long covid sufferers. Evidence for immune disruptions is overwhelming with immune chemicals being overproduced, creating chaotic interactions in brain chemicals. Evidence is growing of the accumulation of "microclots" which restrict the flow of oxygen and nutrients to tissues and damages the walls of blood vessels. When drugs were administered to prevent the microclots from forming or to 'dissolve' them, the long covid symptoms of shortage of breath, fatigue and brain fog were reduced.

Click here for the original article.

More than just a phage

Bacteria which cause food poisoning are a grave health risk, not least because many have developed resistance to antibiotics. The main concerns are salmonella, listeriosis, shigella and pathogenic strains of Escherichia coli. Bacteria-killing viruses, called bacteriophages, are now being used to destroy harmful microbes during food processing, stop food rotting to extend its shelf life or treat diseases on farms.

Bacteriophages are extremely common; an estimate of their number on Earth is 1031. They are sprayed as a mist over food which may have been contaminated by food-poisoning bacteria such as Listeria monocytogenes. A cocktail of different types is often required because each phage targets only one specific bacterial strain, so several are needed to deal with all the strains which might be present. The phages destroy the bacteria but are harmless to humans and do not affect the taste or texture of food, unlike treating food with ionising radiations.

In Belgium, a woman with severe leg injuries became infected with the bacterium Klebsiella pneumoniae that is resistant to almost all drugs. As a last resort, she was treated with phage therapy developed against this bacterium and, within weeks, the wound started to heal.

Click here for the first original article.

Click here for the second original article.

Blue tongue virus Pseudomonas fluorescens Oxytricha sp. Penicillium chrysogenum Microasterias sp.
Blue tongue virus   Pseudomonas fluorescens   Oxytricha sp   Penicillium chrysogenum   Microasterias sp

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