EMJ Weekly News Round-up: 10th February

Jack Redden
Reporter, European Medical Journal

Your EMJ weekly news round-up. In the news, this week: Antibiotics use mechanical force to overcome resistant bacteria, a 105-year-old cyclist continues to improve his fitness, and scientists learn more about how peripheral nerves repair themselves.

 Antibiotics Using Mechanical Force to Kill Infections
Source: European Medical Journal. Published: Monday 6th February
New research has shown that some antibiotics are able to kill resistant bacteria by exerting enough mechanical force on the bacterial surface membrane to cause it to break apart. The team from the University College of London who carried out the study feel that their findings can be used to develop new antibiotics, as well as modify new ones. This could help in the continuing fight against antibiotic resistance, particularly with hard to kill bacteria, such as such as the ‘superbug’ methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Announces First Projects to be Funded
Source: TechCrunch. Published: Tuesday 7th February
The non-profit medical research organisation created by Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg has revealed the 47 projects it has chosen to receive a total of US$50 million in funding. Each project will receive up to US$1.5 million over 5 years to aid in its efforts towards achieving the Biohub’s goal to “cure, prevent or manage all diseases.” The Biohub is in partnership with other institutes such as the University of California, Berkeley; the University of California, San Francisco; and Stanford University towards achieving its goal and encourages all types of research contributing towards it.

Centenarian Cyclist Getting Fitter with Age
Source: New York Times. Published: Wednesday 8th February
Robert Marchand is a 105-year-old French cyclist whose cardiorespiratory fitness appears only to have improved since setting a 1-hour cycling record for riders aged more than 100 years old in 2012. Researchers from the University of Evry-Val d’Essonne in France report spending 2 years with Marchand since he established the record. The results showed that Marchand was still able to improve his cycling performance and increase his VO2 max by following a new fitness regime, leading the team to conclude that fitness and performance can be improved at every age.

Merlin Protein Helps Damaged Peripheral Nerves to Regenerate
Source: European Medical Journal. Published: Thursday 9th February
Researchers have learnt that the Merlin protein found in Schwann cells residing in the peripheral nervous system plays an important role in repairing damaged nerves. Schwann cells produce the myelin sheath around neuronal axons and they are also known to support regeneration in injured nerves. In genetically modified mice that had the Merlin protein removed, the team saw that that these cells could no longer repair damaged nerves. The team hopes that their findings can be used to develop effective therapies for patients whose conditions have led to injured peripheral nerves, such as diabetes or traumatic injuries.


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