Quickies: Breakthrough in cancer vaccine research, trolling antivaxxers, and the UTI superbug

  • Why it’s crucial that the new superbug was in a urinary tract infection – “What they have found is that these resistant UTIs infections are not random and singular, but instead constitute a focused epidemic, caused by particular sets of E. coli that bear the same resistance signatures as ones found in meat animals given antibiotics. This idea has had difficulty gaining traction, because UTIs are usually dismissed as a minor problem, something that causes a few days of annoyance and requires a few days of antibiotics to fix. (And, not coincidentally, because they overwhelmingly happen to women.)”
  • On female modesty and suspension bridges – From Pteryxx.
  • 12 year old scientist trolls antivaxxers – From mrmisconception.
  • “Universal cancer vaccine” breakthrough claimed by scientists – “Writing in Nature, an international team of researchers described how they had taken pieces of cancer’s genetic RNA code, put them into tiny nanoparticles of fat and then injected the mixture into the bloodstreams of three patients in the advanced stages of the disease. The patients’ immune systems responded by producing “killer” T-cells designed to attack cancer.” From Amy.
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Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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  1. June 2, 2016 at 10:56 am —

    Of all the areas where scientific ignorance (or at least apathy) pose a risk to humanity, antibiotic resistance is probably my single greatest fear.

    And that’s in a world with anti-vaccine nutters potentially reintroducing deadly diseases, all of the numerous and sundry negative outcomes attached to climate change, and the thousands upon thousands put at risk every year by replacing medicine with alt medicine.

    Bacteria are simply much better at defeating our immune systems than viruses, and the technology to stop them is one of the main things keeping 80 year lifespans possible.

    • June 2, 2016 at 11:15 am —

      I agree, it’s the one that will kill us all the quickest.

      Well, unless it’s one that we can’t do anything about like an asteroid, or a super-volcano, or a cosmic wave, or a… OK, now I’m scaring myself.

      The good news. Science has been working on antibiotics replacements and show some promising results in techniques that bacteria wouldn’t be able to evolve to counter.

      The bad news? They are years away if viable at all and bacteria have been supremely adept at evolving so the “unable to counter” argument seems a bit premature.

      After all, there is a reason why bacteria are the most successful organisms on the planet. (in terms of numbers at least)

    • June 2, 2016 at 12:50 pm —

      Indeed. It’s my greatest fear, too. It seems like no one gives a damn about peak antibiotics, even doctors.

      I’m a little worried about myself and loved ones. Is there anything I can do specifically?

      • June 2, 2016 at 1:39 pm —

        This particular case seems to be from the industrial use of antibiotics, so no :(

  2. June 2, 2016 at 11:32 am —

    The cancer story is similar to a part of the latest Radiolab podcast. Episode titled “Bigger then bacon”

    It starts with a fishing trip in South Carolina and ends with this cancer treatment technique (using bubbles instead of nanoparticles). In between it passes through shrimps, bacon, and Keanu Reeves.

    It’s like that old TV show Connections, just on a much smaller scale.

    BTW – If you click on that Connections link I apologize for all the lost time.

  3. June 2, 2016 at 3:39 pm —


    Marco Arturo rocks. I bet his parents are proud of him!

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