In Praise of Bacteria: New Scientific Breakthroughs Find Unexpected Ally

250px-EscherichiaColi_NIAIDI was struck this week with two remarkable breakthroughs in the use of bacteria. While once the scourge of parents and doctors, the simple bacteria is being enlisted as an ally in new scientific work. Researchers in New York have discovered a way to use radioactive bacteria to kill cancer, using bacteria as a uniquely effective vehicle to find and attack cancer cells. In the meantime, a team from the University of Exeter has discovered a way to use bacteria to make bio-diesel.

The bacteria fuel is reportedly carbon neutral biofuel and could eventually be made in sufficient commercial volume to dramatically slash greenhouse gas emissions. Shell is funding the research using special strains of E. coli bacteria — the culprit in so many health emergencies in the food supply.

Working with a mouse model of pancreatic cancer, researchers found that bacteria can deliver deadly radiation to tumors. This could be truly revolutionary since fewer than one in 25 people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are alive five years later. The research findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and built on the work of Ekaterina Dadachova of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York who thought of combining two ways to fight cancer. This research uses the bacteria Listeria, which also has killed many as a foodborne bacteria.

It will take time but we can change. Heck, last season I found myself rooting for the Packers in a game against the Vikings to allow the Bears into the playoffs. If I can do that, I can embrace bacteria as a friend.

33 thoughts on “In Praise of Bacteria: New Scientific Breakthroughs Find Unexpected Ally

  1. We can take note…. When you know what the enemy is…. You can take steps to neutralize it or use it to your advantage….

  2. There are many forms of cancer, and they cannot be treated with the same technique.

    Some cancers are caused because our anti-biotic frenzy is “friendly fire”, if you know what I mean:

  3. Bacteria are not the enemy.

    Bacteria inside your body outnumber your own cells by 10x. They are absolutely essential to proper digestion, among other things. The “microbiome” is getting a lot of attention in the medical field these days.

    http://commonfund.nih.gov/hmp/

    Fermented foods and drinks were vital before refrigeration and sanitation. They worked because the good bacteria out-compete the bad bacteria. During the Middle Ages and Renaissance people drank beer, grog, mead, and other fermented drinks not recreationally, but because the water was unsafe.

  4. Interesting! Questions: What are the side effects of introducing this new form of treatment? Until there are human trials, can you really get your hopes up? I need to read the actually study/research.

    Dredd,

    Good point!

    Indigo Jones,

    I didn’t know that. Good info!

  5. Just saw a TED talk on an innovative new “4th attack” therapy for cancer, the electric fields technique.
    Most amazing, clean, healthy and promising technique that I have seen so far:

  6. When I found out the 10 to 1 ratio of non you to you in your own body I was amazed. So what do we think are “truths” today that in 5 years we will look back and say how stupid we were back then? Indeed what we are finding out about how living organisms work is truly amazing.

  7. There was an incredible suggestion from a scientist from China about ending lung cancer as we know it. He suggested that humans stop smoking tobacco. Incredible. The Koch Brothers countered and said that both Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite would disagree if they were still alive and had not died of cancer. The chinese guy’s name was not spulled out in English but it sounded on the shortwave radio like LungFlu Chu. We need to look into this novel notion from across the Pacific Ocean.

  8. If you ever saw how badly Gale Sayes embarrassed the Packers you wouldn’t feel to bad about cheering for them

  9. George Carlin started ranting against all this “bacterial free” horseshit over a decade ago. It was one of his classics. Summing it up, he broke it down as only he could. If you don’t exercise, your body goes to shit. If you don’t use your brain, you get dementia. Well, if you don’t use your immune system and let your body fight bacteria, particularly kids who are growing their immune system, then it will not work. When a fairly benign bacteria confronts that sheltered immune system it is overmatched. I summarized and obviously cleaned up the verbage. My wise grandma would always say, “lets kid get dirty..just clean them up before bed.” Grandma Spinelli and George Carlin, who would have guessed

  10. Dredd:

    the prof posted this one just for you and you are posting old material? What gives?

    Granted that was a good one.

  11. Bron 1, April 23, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    Dredd:

    … the prof posted this one just for you and you are posting old material? What gives?

    Granted that was a good one.
    ==========================
    Evidently you are part of the group that gets it the first time, but others such as:

    “Paul 1, April 23, 2013 at 9:47 am

    When I found out the 10 to 1 ratio of non you to you in your own body I was amazed.

    I am not criticizing him for saying what we all said when we first heard it, I am just saying that sometimes repetition is the only way to be fair to everyone.

    The common good sometimes requires a lot of work to get to everyone.

    Luv ya Bron.

  12. Bathing is something that humans do to dogs on a regular basis and it is against our basic instincts. And some of us have more in stincts than others.

  13. pukindog:

    you got to bathe and get a shave at least twice a year unless you are some kind of sorry a$$ poodle or other fufu dog.

    I know, I know but you guys get really stinky from rolling in anything dead and the hair, it is everywhere.

    If you are a Chihuahua, go try to catch a car until I call you for dinner.

  14. Indigo Jones, There are two very cool BBC series on farm life: The Victorian Farm and The Edwardian Farm. A trio of Scientists/Scholars re-live a year living that life (within the confines of safety regs etc.) in period garb, actual period built manor farmhouses, raise their own food, make their own tools etc. The Victorian farm is superior IMO, or maybe just to my liking more.

    One of the interesting points of the lifestyle was the abundance of beer and hard cider which was consumed even at some breakfasts. They had a well (kind of a luxury) and used water for cooking and cleaning but the point was made in one of the episodes that water was ‘iffy’ and beer and cider less unhealthful so it was a dietary constant. The beer was generally of a lesser alcohol content though.

    These are entertaining and instructive shows if anyone comes across them, there are DVD’s so the library should have them or be able to order them. My grandparents were subsistence farmers and from what I learned spending the summers with them I was struck be how little that life changed over the centurys, probably millennia. My grandparents had a spring, a well and were Christians of some hard-shell Baptist sort so no beer or hard cider! I have no doubt that made the life much, much harder. :-)

  15. Pete, right, excellent point. They didn’t even have raw sugar in the main but they did have honey and high sugar content beets and vege. Those sweeteners were reserved for cooking and eating as I recall. Sugar was reserved for royalty and well-off gentle’s.

    LOL, by Edwardian times the method of distilling alcohol was well known to everyone. As one episode showed over a several day brick or roof-tile making project (as I recall), they managed to distill some nasty, high alcohol content spirits. They just moved past the lack of raw sugar which was still a lux item for ‘commoners’. Progress, ya’ gotta’ love it.

  16. RWL,

    That’s the one exit no waiting strategy. :D I mainly take the supplements for the immunological benefits, but they have helped make indigestion a much less frequent visitor in my house.

  17. Gene H.,

    LOL! LOL! I was informed by my doctor to eat a bowl of raisin bran 2x a week (to help with other external issues: is that TMI?) The soymilk is supposed to help with my high blood pressure & it’s ‘healthier’ for you; however, soymilk is soooooo expensive: $3.69 for half a gallon.

  18. RWL, do not use soy unless it is organic. Over 90% of the soy on the market is genetically modified to either produce pesticides (Bt), or resist RoundUp.
    The RoundUp residues are now known to cause havoc with soil bacteria. This product was touted for decades as “biodegradable” but now we know it is NOT. There is no reason to think it does not damage gut bacteria when it kills bacteria in soils.
    RoundUp is showing up in urine samples of urban dwellers, so we know it is from food, not farms.

    Otherwise you are doing great damage to your beneficial bacteria in your digestive system. Soy GMOs are associated with the use of RoundUp.

    Try hemp, almond, coconut or rice milk instead for your health.

    Or buy organic soy, but the way the soy market is now, pollen drift et al, I would not even trust that to be GMO free.

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