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DARPA Requests Replacement To Antibiotics

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the turning-on-the-autodoc dept.

Medicine 193

eldavojohn writes "In the grand scheme of things, antibiotics are a very temporary solution to aid humans in combating bacteria. Bacterial resistance to said antibiotics is an increasing fear and DARPA's 'Rapidly Adaptable Nanotherapeutics' solicitation reveals they're interested in a more permanent solution as modifying the genes of harmless bacteria can result in powerful bioweapons. Like siRNA, DARPA is hoping for more nanomolecules that can specifically target cells and deliver medicine to them anywhere in the body. Most amazing about this proposal is that it's aimed at small businesses and hopes to turn a process that takes decades to study a new antibiotic into a few weeks to manufacture nanomedicine to specifically target bacteria."

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no, No, NO!!! (2, Funny)

Dr.Bob,DC (2076168) | more than 2 years ago | (#38124628)


[NB. I've been away for a while, busy giving life saving Chiropractic treatments at famine-ravaged refugee camps in Africa]

The proposed "solution" is even worse than the antibiotics it is intended to replace.

A bacteria modified to attack cancer cells needs only to have its "cancer-only" chromosome modified to "attack-all-cells" which would spell doom for the patient.

It's not as far-fetched as one would thing. Chromosomes are modified all the time. Radiation from cell phones, smoke detectors and nuclear reactors beat the tar out of your chromosomes 24/7. Even bananas are radioactive; NEVER EVER eat bananas lest you flood your system with subluxation-causing radiation.

There are a handful of things you need for optimal health (note that BigPharma toxins are not one of them):

1) Get plenty of exercise
2)Get plenty of sleep
3)Maintain a calorie restricted, high protein, low carbohydrate, organic, vegan diet
4) Get regular Chiropractic adjustments to keep your nervous system performing at its best
5) Meditate regularily
6)Stay Radiation Free 7) Never set foot in the Big Pharma controlled "medical system". One foot in the "MD's office" is one foot in your grave.

Bob.

Re:no, No, NO!!! (3, Funny)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38124676)

Someone should tell DARPA that chiropractic care can cure drug-resistant bacterial infections.
Who knew?

Re:no, No, NO!!! (2)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38124700)

I love this. It's right up there with the one about eating muppets - I miss that one.

Re:no, No, NO!!! (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126046)

I don't know, to me its kinda sad as he makes the whole profession look like crazies when for certain things like back injuries real chiropractic care CAN help. I was left in pretty constant pain after a car wreck (thanks to an off duty cop LOOKING BEHIND HIM while driving 60MPH looking for a fire he had heard on his scanner. Even though I went into the ditch trying to avoid this asshole and he STILL hit me his cop buddies got together and wrote it up as no fault) and thought I'd just have to suffer the rest of my days but I got lucky that a customer turned out to be a chiropractor and in less than 30 minutes my back felt like new (hurt like hell when he did it though) and I haven't had a backache in the nearly 12 years since.

As for TFA let us all hope DARPA can buy our way out of the mess the corps have gotten us in because as Citizens united made clear corps are better people than you are and there is no way in hell they'll give the massive profits they make by stuffing the animals full of antibiotics up.

Between that and the fact that the sewers end up pumping tons of drugs into our rivers, antibiotics, painkillers, hormones, etc we are or borrowed time here. the fish absorb the drugs, the animals and us absorb the fish, and of course bugs become immune in the process. not good folks, not good.

Re:no, No, NO!!! (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#38124746)

The proposed "solution" is even worse than the antibiotics it is intended to replace.

A bacteria modified to attack cancer cells needs only to have its "cancer-only" chromosome modified to "attack-all-cells" which would spell doom for the patient.

The way I read it they have something more like a phage in mind, - something that cannot live or replicate outside the pathogen.

Re:no, No, NO!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38124760)

Troll much? Your mistake was mentioning the word "Chiropractor." /. is a place for real science discussion.

Re:no, No, NO!!! (-1, Troll)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125274)

Troll much? Your mistake was mentioning the word "Chiropractor." /. is a place for real science discussion.

While he is a troll, you're about 50 years behind the times if you think chiropractics is not "real science". It may not be half the things crazed, ultra-vegan proselytizers claim it is, but neither are hemp clothing, crystal therapy, or rose hips. That doesn't mean we stop using hemp plants, rocks, or herbs where they are useful to human life.

Chiropractics can put people back to work who previously suffered debilitating pain which nothing short of heroin could even dent. It's scientifically proven effective even if it isn't as scientifically understood as most allopathic therapies (and you'd be amazed how many approved pharmaceuticals suffer exactly the same paradox).

God, if there's one thing I can't stand in scientific discussion it's insouciant little fuckwits life you who can't distinguish between following scientific principles and looking down their noses at every therapy or principle which didn't begin and end its formal trials in a laboratory. Well, people who think it's 'scientific' to smugly doubt every theory until it's proven better than 99.99% likely are a close second.

Re:no, No, NO!!! (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125496)

It's scientifically proven effective....

oh

A 2010 systematic review stated that there is no good evidence to assume that neck manipulation is an effective treatment for any medical condition and suggested a precautionary principle in healthcare for chiropractic intervention even if a causality with vertebral artery dissection after neck manipulation were merely a remote possibility.[36] [wikipedia.org]

yeah? In other words; if you look through it; there's very little evidence it works and plenty of evidence that with the right luck it can kill you. (with thanks to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] ; there's plenty more where that came from; and it's always worth following up their references)

Re:no, No, NO!!! (0)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126070)

If you'd included the rest of your quotation we'd have seen that chiropractors criticized the results as focusing solely on neck manipulation while the greatest claimed benefits in chiropractic tend to come from back manipulation of people with back problems. That was my very first thought as well, and I'm not even terribly familiar with the actual mechanics of chiropractics.

I think 'scientifically proven effective' was far too much praise for me to offer. Allow me to backpedal a bit. Again, I'm not saying it's well understood or that it's risk free, but there are studies without any fatal flaws suggesting that it's quite effective. You may say "oh great, studies without any fatal flaw!", but there isn't a significant body of high quality research on the topic supporting any conclusion. As I said before, just because it doesn't do half the stuff it's crazier cheerleaders claim doesn't mean it's worthless. Based on your quoted selection and your general impression of the data you can advocate for better research, you can advocate for restricting neck manipulation, but what you can't look do is look at clinical evidence that is, at the most cynical interpretation, only slightly negative on the whole and call chiropractics worthless.

The plural of anecdote may not be data, but with hundreds of thousands of positive anecdotes and no conclusive research one way or another it's ludicrously dishonest to say chiropractics is simply unscientific crap.



And as an aside, if anyone is getting ready to throw out competing anecdotes about chiropractors who fucked up people's spines, please just stop before you start. Until you prove that the ratio of bad chiropractors significantly exceeds the ratio of bad doctors and dentists, and that the actual techniques of chiropractics are flawed, you can't go spouting off without revealing yourself as an intellectually dishonest twit. There are bad doctors, bad dentists, and bad practices in medicine and dentistry just as there are in any field, and just as there are certainly are in chiropractics. It's patently ludicrous to condemn an entire field just because it isn't literally perfect, or because it contains the same bad apples you find in any other field. If anything, those problems should decrease if and when it's proven totally effective and subject to better regulation based on better knowledge of best practices. Keeping it out on the fringe because you cherry-pick the negative studies will never do anyone any good at all.

Re:no, No, NO!!! (1)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126138)

You really need to learn from Dr. Bob. His pro-chiropractic trolls are at least amusing.

I vote Dr. Bob as chiropractor of the year!

Re:no, No, NO!!! (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125704)

"but neither are hemp clothing"

srsly? hemp clothing is underrated if anything.

Re:no, No, NO!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38124824)

Oh Dr Bob! We were all missing you! Fill us with your subluxation knowledge!

Re:no, No, NO!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38124842)

Hi Dr. Bob.

I just got back from the restroom, where I drop a HUGE subluxation. It reminded me of you. I'm glad you posted now, so I could give you my thanks, your advice has really helped. I didn't know pooping was such a useful thing. From now on, whenever I drop a subluxation in the can, I'll think of you.

I Love You, Bob (3, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38124866)

Bob,

You are the reason I submit any medical news to Slashdot. Your (Score: -1) batshit insanity brightens my day.

I will take a karma hit to say this: I love you Bob! Keep up the good work fighting the front lines with *snicker* chiropractics in Africa!

eldavojohn

Re:I Love You, Bob (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125190)

Agreed. Also I think Bob is just a super-ironic, hence by definition misunderstood, comedian. I mean, nobody is that stupid, right? Right?

Re:I Love You, Bob (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125518)

I mean, nobody is that stupid, right? Right?

I see you've never met my ex-wife, you lucky bastard!

Re:I Love You, Bob (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125758)

Dr. Bob is your ex-wife?!

Re:I Love You, Bob (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38125736)

I'd like to introduce you to my mother...

Re:no, No, NO!!! (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125112)

By the omission of the line break betwixt and between items 6 and 7, you have invalidated your conclusions.

Re:no, No, NO!!! (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125164)

Yay! Welcome back Dr Bob! Slashdot just hasn't been the same without you - we've had to make do with lame racist trolls...

Re:no, No, NO!!! (2)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125386)

Humans are themselves radioactive on about the same scale bananas are. The amount of radiation involved is so small that it's difficult to express, and the "Banana Equivalent Dose" does not account for how your body actually processes potassium. You're on much safer grounds picking on Brazil nuts, which contain barium. However, regardless of whether you choose to eat either foodstuff, there's enough random isotopes in the rest of your diet to account for about ten times the radiation dose you'd get by eating a banana a day.

By comparison, taking a six-hour plane trip will expose you to more radiation than a year's supply of bananas. How was Africa?

Your body is made up of many things, the overwhelming majority of which are not genetic material. Your genetic material actually has ways of repairing itself, and unrepaired radiation damage to your genome is probably more likely to affect your future offspring than yourself. Generally speaking, if you've had enough radiation exposure to be worried about your chromosomal material, you're probably not going to be around long enough for reproduction to be an issue.

"Radiation" comprises a whole shit ton of things that mostly don't affect humans in the slightest: light and radio waves being the most common. If you live near Fukushima or if your cell phone emits gamma radiation, you should worry. However, there aren't too many sources of harmful radiation, and despite our ever-increasing use of the EM spectrum, life expectancies continue to rise. Cancer rates would be appropriate to discuss under this context, but I will excuse myself from that if you don't mind.

Re:no, No, NO!!! (3, Funny)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125578)

I would like to correct you, picking a nit, specifically.

Optical radiation (light) doesn't affect my DNA in the slightest. However, it affects me greatly none the less. I cant imagine how many bumps, bruises, scrapes, broken bones and bloody noses I'd have without it!

Thank you, little photons between ~400 and ~750nm for making my life so much easier.
Except when someone on slashdot links to goatse, then I hate you.

"Aimed at small businesses" (3, Insightful)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38124724)

The "aimed at small businesses" part is almost certainly hooey, and is being done for political reasons.

Re:"Aimed at small businesses" (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#38124810)

You're suggesting I couldn't get a small business loan to set up an anti-biowarfare laboratory?

Re:"Aimed at small businesses" (5, Informative)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125234)

It's probably not hooey.

DARPA tends to put blue-sky stuff like this into SBIR [osd.mil] (Small Business Innovation Research). You'd be amazed at what comes out of these grants.

Disclaimer: In a previous job, I worked for a company that did work under SBIR.

Re:"Aimed at small businesses" (0)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125350)

A normal person's definition of "small business" is completely different than government's definition. 30 or 40 years ago my Uncle Bob had a landscaping business in Colorado (he had an office and two trucks), and applied for a small business loan. He was denied because there were three landscapers in the town, all of comparable size (and all three lost their busineses because local government banned watering). While his teeny business was denied because it wasn't a "small" business, AMC (remember them? They made cars) got a small business loan of millions.

No, Uncle Bob wasn't a terminator from the future sent back to save me from the other terminators. The only terminator in this story terminated my uncle's business.

Re:"Aimed at small businesses" (1)

uniquename72 (1169497) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125964)

and all three [landscapers] lost their busineses because local government banned watering

This is not a logical reason for landscapers to lose business. Xeriscaping requires nearly as much upkeep as lawns. As municipalities all over the U.S. move away from watered lawns, landscapers are seeing a boom, both of new/changing xeriscape and on maintenance contracts.

Landscaping and watering... (3, Interesting)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126020)

I wonder if they weren't so much 'landscapers' as 'fancy lawnmowers' and failed to adapt?

Re:"Aimed at small businesses" (4, Informative)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125446)

As mentioned above, they really do want small businesses.

The big companies might have some extra money to toss at a problem, but they won't without good chances for return.

In this case "small businesses" translates roughly to "those crazy enough to risk economic ruin when they fail".

*note* I realize this post sounds a little negative, that is not the intent. I love DARPA and out of the grants they award has come some truly stunning stuff.

Re:"Aimed at small businesses" (2)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125512)

Small businesses are the only ones left doing actual innovative R&D. The MBAs slashed all funding for R&D at most of the big firms. Now they just wait around for a small company to come up with a good technology/product, then sweep in and buy them up.

Re:"Aimed at small businesses" (0)

shaitand (626655) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125764)

Keep in mind that from Darpa's standpoint a 100 million dollar a year company is a small business.

Why still delivering medicine? (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#38124770)

nanomolecules that can specifically target cells and deliver medicine to them anywhere in the body

Instead of delivering medicine, why not make them carry some sort of nano weapon to destroy the target cells?

Re:Why still delivering medicine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38124856)

Antibiotics are nano weapons when you think about it...

Re:Why still delivering medicine? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38124890)

Two reasons, both based on the assumption that delivering medicine to them is trickier than destroying them.

First, if you can achieve the goal of deliving medicine to target cells, then destroying them should be trivial, so you've discovered a way to do both.

Second, it sets your sights higher. If your goal is to find a way to deliver medicine to target cells but you miss the mark and the best you can do is destroy them, you've still accomplished something great (as in a cure for cancer). However, if your goal is to figure out a way to destroy target cells and you fail, you accomplished far less.

Re:Why still delivering medicine? (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125372)

But delivering medicines still leaves the possibility of the bacteria developing resistance open

Re:Why still delivering medicine? (4, Interesting)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125586)

Not if done properly.

My own company has developed a small catalyst that can be covalently bound to a targeting molecule. When released into the bloodstream, the catalyst gathers around the targeted cells and catalyzes the production of superoxide, which directly oxidizes the cell membrane. If you target virulence factors, or certain vital proteins in the membrane, there is no method by which they can develop immunity. Either they evolve to no longer have virulence factors (and are thus no longer a problem), or they have to change their entire membrane structure to an as yet unseen one that resists oxidative damage while still allowing water in, which would make it not only a new species, but a new kingdom.

Re:Why still delivering medicine? (2)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126076)

To elaborate on what the other responder said, antibiotics work because we've discovered chemicals which don't damage human cells but attack specific weaknesses particular to the bacteria we want to kill. That way we can ingest high doses that will affect the bacteria without damaging ourselves.

However because those antibiotics depend on difference in the cell structure between human cells and the bacteria cells the bacteria can effectively evolve to be more like human cells in that regard (in general if not in the specific mechanism) until they are no longer affected by the antibiotic either.

However if you can can deliver substances directly to the cells you want to affect then you can use a chemical which is damaging to practically _all_ life. Like bleach. If you started drinking bleach it would kill you long before you got a high enough concentration in your blood to kill unwanted bacteria. However if you could target it finely enough you could deliver just enough molecules of bleach to the cells you wanted to kill them without having an effect on anything else.

Bacteria can't evolve a defense against that for the same reason they haven't already evolved a defense against it despite the fact that bleach has been used as a cleaner for far longer than antibiotics have been around. It would involve such a massive change to the cell structure that it would effectively be a new form of life adapted to live in bleach and wouldn't find a "normal" environment hospitable any longer.

Re:Why still delivering medicine? (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125800)

If only we could develop a device that targets the cells and delivers peroxide to destroy them... somehow it sounds familiar.

Re:Why still delivering medicine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38124920)

Most likely its a safety measure. Nanomachines that can physically destroy individual cells might malfunction and eat all your red blood cells. But, if they're carrying a drug that kills a specific microorganism and accidentally inject the wrong cells with it, its less likely to do damage.

  Besides, Big Pharma and the insurance companies will make more money from one-use or refillable nanobots than they would from a universal nano-augmented immune system.

Re:Why still delivering medicine? (1)

residieu (577863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125044)

That's probably the ultimate plan. It probably gets around those pesky rules against biological and chemical weapons.

PROTIP? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38125068)

Uuum, I don want to act like I'm the only one with a brain in here, but how about an upgrade to our own already existing immune system??

Seriously, this is like that quote from Einstein (paraphrasing, since I can only find it in German): If only engineers would do research, we would have perfectly functioning oil lamps by now.

Fuck "delivering medicine". We're not in the dark ages anymore. I want to take one pill, that contains viruses that upgrade the DNA and other things of my immune cells with the latest and greatest of my personal choice of new features. I want to be able to transfer my girlfriend's immune information to me by sucking her titty. ;)
Or generally be able to transfer immune information.

These updates are already possible today, provided you know what to update them with. (Remember that lung cancer patient that they cured with modified AIDS that updated the patient's immune system to attack the cancer?)

Why do people think so much inside the box and reach so low?

Re:PROTIP? (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125146)

don't update until the first patch comes out

Re:PROTIP? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125492)

Why do people think so much inside the box and reach so low?

Probably because they're being far more realistic than you are.

For one thing, our own immune systems can already "upgrade" themselves - that's how vaccines work.

We can't even fully secure our computers, so how do you expect us to be able to secure our own immune system against real viruses? And even if we do develop an upgraded immune system that is immune to all known viruses and harmful bacteria, what happens when some of our white-listed bacteria (some bacteria in our bodies are symbiotic to an extent, so we'd want to keep them) develop some new mutation that proves harmful to us? We're back to having to patch up our immune system the same way you have to patch a computer.

Right now I like letting my own highly evolved immune system deal with as many problems as it can, and only relying on medicine when my body is unable to protect itself.

Re:Why still delivering medicine? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38125128)

Funnily enough, this was actually in my RSS feed as I was scrolling down them.

It is being done in this trial.
Inhalation of nanoparticles to attack cancer of lungs and prevent rejection. [physorg.com]
Sounds pretty promising.

Re:Why still delivering medicine? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125450)

The medicine is a nenoweapon -- against the infected cells.

obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38124792)

Nuke the planetary surface from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

Re:obligatory (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125170)

Nuke the planetary surface from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

Which turned out not to be true.

The Future (4, Funny)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38124806)

DARPA + Nanites = A Better World. Only the USA could responsibly use such a technology for the betterment of all mankind.

Re:The Future (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38124930)

Except this is really pointless, such a cure already exists and has been in development for years. If you eat beef in the US there's a good chance you've already consumed bacteriophages. One of the happy consequences of the break up of the USSR was that the Georgian government had massive biological weapons labs with nothing to do with them, they ultimately were used for research.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacteriophage [wikipedia.org]

The results so far have been quite impressive.

Re:The Future (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38124998)

The results so far have been quite impressive.

Really? For all the jumping up and down from the bacteriophage is great community, I've yet to see a commercial product or system.

Got any examples?

Re:The Future (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125640)

They exist, but they are only used in the clinic in Russia and nearby nations, so far as I know. A friend of mine works at a phage research company, and is working on FDA approval for use of the system in the USA. The problem is that phage is an undefined form of medicine, as it is evolved to work against a given infection on the fly. The FDA doesn't like that. They want defined medicines, and seem to be loathe to approve something as disorganized and effective as phage therapy.

Re:The Future (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125224)

This is a technology I'd be happier if nobody had.

However, that obviously isn't going to happen....

Re:The Future (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126026)

MAXIMUM IMMUNITY

The early death of antibiotics (5, Informative)

wjcofkc (964165) | more than 2 years ago | (#38124852)

It is massively unfortunate that antibiotics have fallen due to misuse. By all means the *should* be viable for decades to come, but that has been ruined by ignorance. To this day I know people who despite being aware of the issue from the news, doctors, and long lectures by me, discontinue their course before it's done and then hoard those antibiotics to take when they have a cold or the flu. Yet they have been informed thoroughly as to why this is bad and why antibiotics don't even try viri.

This is not a matter of educating the public. The public has been educated yet they ignore it. I have never understood where this profound ignorance comes from. This is a major hot button for me.

Past all that, if any organization can formulate something new and better I suppose that would be DARPA.

Re:The early death of antibiotics (5, Informative)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38124968)

I far bigger issue then singular humans mistaking antibiotics is the universal use by the farming industry on animals.

Mod this person up! (1)

wjcofkc (964165) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125046)

Agreed. It's absolute insanity.

Re:The early death of antibiotics (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125214)

Didn't we just have this discussion? Not that I disagree, but... Yeah.

Re:The early death of antibiotics (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125020)

Would have made little difference in the long run. If you use antibiotics, you will get resistant organisms. Same thing with siRNA, bacteriophages or whatnot.

It's called evolutionary pressure. It it doesn't much care about you....

Re:The early death of antibiotics (1)

wjcofkc (964165) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125144)

I totally agree with your statement. The unfortunate thing about it is that the long run has been reduced to a sprint through abuse compared to the marathon we should have had. I realize how long antibiotics have been in use, but they should have lasted longer.

Re:The early death of antibiotics (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125226)

If you use antibiotics, you will get resistant organisms. Same thing with siRNA, bacteriophages or whatnot

Only if your antibiotic or replacement only kills most of the bacteria. We haven't seen bacteria become resistant to neat chlorine, for example. Evolution isn't magic.

Re:The early death of antibiotics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38125292)

yeah, okay, you go swallow a pill of neat chlorine.

Re:The early death of antibiotics (1)

DarkTempes (822722) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125382)

Even if whatever is only killing 'most' of the bacteria it's not guaranteed or even necessarily possible for said organism to evolve a mechanism to survive.

Agreed, evolution isn't magic.

Re:The early death of antibiotics (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125692)

If you use antibiotics, you will get resistant organisms...

This is not true. In the philosophical sense these organisms already exist, you aren't creating them, just increasing their incidence. In a practical sense it has actually been shown that if you cut down on the use of antibiotics, antibiotic resistance dies down. The genes for antibiotic resistance are generally disadvantageous where there are not antibiotics present. It is still possible to rescue antibiotics merely by banning their use in agricultural feed (even animal treatment could still be allowed!) and ensuring that they are almost always used correctly by humans.

There needs to be an automatic life sentence with no parole for owning or managing a company which uses antibiotics in animal feed. Doctors and patients who use antibiotics on viral infections need to have a lifetime ban on the use of antibiotics (at least the one they abused), preferably enforced by giving them an allergy.

Re:The early death of antibiotics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38125966)

There needs to be an automatic life sentence with no parole for owning or managing a company which uses antibiotics in animal feed. Doctors and patients who use antibiotics on viral infections need to have a lifetime ban on the use of antibiotics (at least the one they abused), preferably enforced by giving them an allergy.

See, you were contributing to a rational discussion (even if it was redundant), until you tossed these gems in.

Re:The early death of antibiotics (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125784)

You do realize that phage co-evolves with bacteria, and as such bacteria never gain immunity to them, right?

It's like saying that Little Johnny got a cold, so now he is immune to all viruses.

Further, current antibiotics lead to resistance only because they act as poisons, and must get into the cell, and stick around long enough to do their damage. They can be pumped out. If you have a material that attacks the membrane, then you can't breed resistance. Not without a sudden dramatic leap to a new type of membrane, which would be a new species of bacteria, if not a whole new kingdom.

Re:The early death of antibiotics (2)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126160)

Some things do not care about evolutionary pressure.

Humanity can not evolve a biological defense against a bullet to the brain.

A cell can not evolve a biological defense against having its cell wall shredded by an oxidizing agent.

You Misunderstand What I Meant by "Grand Scheme" (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125266)

It is massively unfortunate that antibiotics have fallen due to misuse. By all means the *should* be viable for decades to come ...

Decades? When you look at the power of evolution over time -- and I mean time as in evolutionary time -- it is simply amazing and a "solution" like antibiotics is no more than a very brief band-aid. I'm not in the medical fields but as the population of humans on this planet skyrockets, we become more and more vulnerable to just being massive petri-dishes waiting for that one antibacterial resistant strain. From the definition of antibiotics [wikipedia.org] :

The term antibiotic was coined by Selman Waksman in 1942 to describe any substance produced by a microorganism that is antagonistic to the growth of other microorganisms in high dilution.

In the evolutionary sense, these antibiotics are merely one more constraint on the freedom to populate of these bacteria. It's not a fix, it's an antagonist of growth. I'm not advocating us to stop using antibiotics -- use whatever we got, the bacteria will evolve one way or another. I'm just saying that "a couple of decades" of use is really quite laughable and planckian in the grand scheme of things.

You're correct to be upset at people who make themselves petri dishes full of a weak dilution of antibiotics as those bacteria will probably have a higher branching factor but the purpose of DARPA's proposal is not to fix what they are doing wrong (go forth with your PSA). It's to permanently fix the threat of bacteria -- or perhaps mastering our control over eukaryotes altogether.

Re:The early death of antibiotics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38125908)

I know people who despite being aware of the issue from the news, doctors, and long lectures by me keep using the plural viri instead of viruses.

Photos of first 9 tests are online (0)

LordNicholas (2174126) | more than 2 years ago | (#38124862)

The 7th looks the most promising [memory-alpha.org]

Hey What A GREAT IDEA! (0)

forgot_my_username (1553781) | more than 2 years ago | (#38124878)

It's like they saw the idea... and just reached out and grabbed it!
Genius

I for one welcome our nan...hey... where did everyone go? ... Ack... phttt.

Oh, and btw... IAAD...and this sounds...like possibly the worst idea I have heard this decade..

They don't have to be temporary (5, Informative)

guises (2423402) | more than 2 years ago | (#38124940)

"antibiotics are a very temporary solution to aid humans in combating bacteria"

The problem is overuse - factory farming is unsustainable for this reason alone, but putting an end to high density meat production and doing a better job with limiting antibiotic use among humans would not only stop the development of antibiotic resistance, it would reverse the process. Evolution cuts both ways, bacteria may evolve a resistance to antibiotics but they give something up in the process. If you remove the stimulus then, given time, the process will reverse.

Of course, ending factory farming would mean more expensive meat (i.e. big government nanny-state), but more importantly would cut into the profits of a few certain companies. So DARPA comes up with this instead.

Re:They don't have to be temporary (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125080)

Oh stop. Yes, we shouldn't feed tetracycline to chickens (or corn to cows for that matter). No, it doesn't change things. Neither will nanoThis or nanoThat - you are just putting pressure on the organism to 'come up' with workarounds.

The big problem with nanoThis and nanoThat will be differentiating 'good' from 'bad'. People have been trying targeted molecules of many sorts (for cancer, mostly) for decades with little success. Past failures, of course, do not argue against future success but it's not like this approach is any different because you stuck a 'nano' in front of it.

I didn't read the DARPA stuff carefully, so there may be some bits and pieces that are indeed noteworthy, but this sounds like tossing some money down a hole and watching who chases after it.

Evolution doesn't do that.... (2)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125576)

Evolution cuts both ways, bacteria may evolve a resistance to antibiotics but they give something up in the process. If you remove the stimulus then, given time, the process will reverse.

Not exactly. The bacteria evolved their resistance genes under extremely intense selection pressures. Novel antibiotics are the hydrogen bombs of the microbiology world. The bacteria survived in a given person because there are quintillions of them, reproducing dozens of times per day. Their natural mutation rate brute forced a genetic solution to the problem.

However, genetic drift (the process by which genes could disappear at the population or species level when they're not under any selection pressure, as the resistance genes wouldn't be if we stopped using an antibiotic) isn't inherently quick, and it's slower with larger population sizes, so bacteria - with worldwide population sizes in the octillions - are pretty much immune to losing any gene entirely that isn't experiencing an active selection pressure.

All of this is to say that, baring a wait time of hundreds of trillions of years, there's almost no chance the genes lending resistance to a particular antibiotic will leave a bacterial species once they've arrived. By the time humans notice a resistance it's way too late.

The best you can do is moderate your use of antibiotics and buy yourself more useful time with each particular drug, as less usage is less selection pressure. There's never going to be a way of recovering an antibiotic that's already being resisted, however.

Re:Evolution doesn't do that.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38126128)

Depends on the resistance factor. If the resistance is passive (eg the shape of a protein is slightly different), then it probably never will be selected out. If it's active (eg the bacteria makes a pump or enzyme in response to the presence of the antibiotic) then it should be possible to trigger that reaction without actually harming bacteria that don't have the genes for that reaction. Think of it as giving the bacteria an allergic reaction. Those that exhibit the immunity will waste an appreciable amount of energy, putting pressure against that particular immunity gene.

Phage therapy helps in 80% of infections (5, Informative)

Zdzicho00 (912806) | more than 2 years ago | (#38124982)

Bacteriophages are being used to cure such infections in one of polish hospitals. For example MRSA is being cured in 80% of cases.
Therapy is safe and cheap:
http://www.aite.wroclaw.pl/phages/phages.html [wroclaw.pl]

Why you are not going to see such treatments in your country?? Phages are not patentable, so no way to earn hard cash here.

Re:Phage therapy helps in 80% of infections (1)

Alan R Light (1277886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125260)

The headline immediately brought phages to my mind, also. We do some stupid things in the USA.

Re:Phages giveth and phages taketh away (1)

chooks (71012) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125774)

Of course, some bacteriophages actually produce virulence factors when they infect bacteria (e.g. Diptheria: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diptheria#Mechanism [wikipedia.org] )

If there is one thing the FSM has taught us humans is that beer volcanoes are awesome. If there are two things the FSM has taught us, it is that nature finds a way. Or maybe that was Jurassic Park. Hmmm...

Funny thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38125034)

Funny thing is, medicine is synonymous with poison. What can heal can also kill. I can only see new weapons created alongside new medicine in terms of military use. For example, nanmolecules that target bad cells can probably be programmed to target good cells as well. This, however, would be a boon for natural diseases which is definitely alot more common even on the battlefield where wounds can lead too all sorts of infections. Hope this research pans out as it's definitely a worthy goal.

Re:Funny thing (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125114)

That's pretty much true of any tool, in the broadest sense. It can be used to help or hurt, for "good" or "evil"; whether it's medicine, a hammer, a car, a knife, a laser, etc.. regardless of what purpose it was originally designed for.
Ultimately it always comes down to the human wielding it. Which is kinda scary.

Re:Funny thing (1)

TeXMaster (593524) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125174)

Funny thing is, medicine is synonymous with poison.

No it's not. Farmaca ("drugs") are synonymous with poison, due to the origin of pharmaceutical substances as poisons, taken under the assumption that they would do more damage to the cause of the host problem than they would do damage to the host (and to the damage the cause of the host problem is causing to the host). There are aspects and form of medicine however that are quite distant from this approach.

Don't worry. Be Happy now. (4, Insightful)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125062)

In the grand scheme of things, antibiotics are a very temporary solution to aid humans in combating bacteria. Bacterial resistance to said antibiotics is an increasing fear

Some bacteria replicate every 20 minutes. That's 72 opportunities a day for them to catch onto at least the beginnings of a method to bypass an antibiotic. And mutations are to increasing environmental survivability as brute force cracking is to opening a file with 2056-bit XYZ+ encryption. It'll work eventually, but 99.99999% of the time (literally) you and your entire family tree are long dead before anything significant happens.

Good thing there are at least 100 quadrillion bacterial cells inside every human body, for a grand total of a fucking buttload of bacterial family trees to carry on the crack. Not to mention the uncountable number outside of humans, mutating and reproducing in thousands of different environments but all theoretically capable of suddenly mutating that one last step that allows them to survive in a human body while completely bypassing the human immune system and antibiotics almost entirely.

Anyone who, in the last 25 years, ever thought antibiotics were a persistent defense system against bacteria was hopelessly optimistic and misinformed about microbiology.

Overall, people just need to calm the hell down. I'm not saying we stop treating disease or cease using antibiotics or saying any other defeatist, fatalist nonsense. I'm just saying we exist at the pleasure of the bacteria, prions, and viruses that outnumber other terrestrial life by a factor of trillions. It's just one of those things that could kill us at any second but probably won't, like asteroid strikes and nuclear war. The sooner Westerners have their collective "How I learned to stop worrying and love bacteria" moment, the better. We can move on to things we can actually can full control.

Re:Don't worry. Be Happy now. (1)

ascrewloose (2428700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125186)

And now I have to go wash my hands.

Re:Don't worry. Be Happy now. (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125520)

And I have to start thinking about how I'm going to bathe my house in chlorine gas every few months.

Re:Don't worry. Be Happy now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38126002)

I read an article how some scientists were playing around with soil and antibiotics, being that soil has LOTS of bacterial. Anyway, the found that some bacteria not only didn't die in the presence from anti-biotics, but they could metabolize them. They couldn't get enough energy from them to reproduce, but they could get enough to survive.

DARPA Failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38125076)

Before getting excited about this, just remember that the bulk of DARPA projects fail to produce anything. The reason is that they micromanage projects and generally hire companies to do the work who are really only after the money.

SURPRISE! (3, Interesting)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125096)

I just love the mission of DARPA:

"DARPA’s mission is to prevent technological surprise for the United States and to create technological surprise for its adversaries."

It's the closest thing we've got to a science fiction agency or MIB (the first good movie at least). Too bad I'm not smart enough to work there. (The company I was at did get its basic technology for image compression fom DARPA, now that technology and variations on it, are used in movie theaters around the world.)

Returning to the subject: their goal seems crazy ambitious (defeat 3.5 billion years of bacterial evolution?). Still, I heard of a project at MIT where researchers had shown (in mice) a technique which would defeat just about ALL virusis (they tried it on dengue, influenza, H1N1). So who knows? Still, gotta be just a teensy bit worried because a good bio-offense (weapon) depends on a good bio-defense.

Re:SURPRISE! (3, Insightful)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125554)

You seem to have fallen victim to the classic evolution misunderstanding.

bacteria have been evolving for billions of years, and all of that means exactly squat when we come up with a completely novel, artificial weapon against them.

evolution is the act of random mutations surviving, so a bacteria from 3.5 billion years ago would have exactly the same chance of surviving DARPAs new weapon as today's would (not much).

Disappointed (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125152)

This far and still no Ghost in the Shell SAC references?

is this to further MIT's reseach? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38125306)

Remember the Slashdot post in August about MIT curing all viruses? http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/antiviral-0810.html

It seems they used a similar if not nearly identical technique, insert RNA into pathogen to neutralize it.

Adaption (1)

Ragun (1885816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125392)

Explain to me how whatever we come up with won't provide an evolutionary pressure when misused, and become worthless after the bacteria evolves...

Re:Adaption (1)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125598)

If you'd care to read you'd understand that they aren't expecting that to be the case.

They're looking to shorten the time from new bug to cure to ~2 weeks. So the bacteria can become resistant all they want, and the new ones have about 2 weeks to live.

Evolution isn't smart, so it doesn't stand up well against direct assault from intelligence. As yet we don't have a means of applying our intelligence directly to this problem and DARPA is looking to change that

silver (1)

swell (195815) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125404)

Various forms of silver have killed bacteria for a couple thousand years without fail. It is currently used to sanitize hospitals and protect burn injuries. Many take it internally and claim good results.

Unfortunately it's unpatentable and of no interest to corporations.

Re:silver (1)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125688)

Do you have any study links (if there are any) re: internal usage?

My understanding of the antimicrobial nature of silver was that it essentially starved that bacteria that tried to live *on* it. Which I assumed would be rather ineffective except in topical situations...

I'm very interested in the possibility that there's more to it than that.

Re:silver (4, Interesting)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125850)

Actually, it's terrible. It interferes with protein folding, and accumulates in the liver, even when applied topically. Doctors hate the stuff because the silver bandages they use for burn wounds turns black due to the moisture associated with the wound, which makes it so that they can't tell if there is necrosis or not.

IANAD(octor), but my office is directly across from the department of surgery, and I have had discussions about this with them in the past. Silver is the best thing they have commercially available, but it is terrible. My company is developing better antimicrobials for them--non-leeching ones.

Old (Soviet) Hat (1)

Ideonaut (2047822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125486)

The Soviet Union was a developer and user of phage therapy -- viruses adapted to target undesirable bacteria -- since way back last century (1920s as I recall). Maybe our "advanced" agency should look into this old technology -- we could sure use a phage that works against MRSA. Of course this approach presents hazards of its own....

Phage therapy? (1)

yanom (2512780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125606)

I read once that it might be possible to use bacteriophages (those spider-shaped viruses that eat bacteria) to kill harmful bacteria in humans.

yet another pipe dream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38125906)

I've been doing biotech for 20years, and every few years there is some hot new idea that is gonna revolutionize drug development
antisense, gene therapy, miRNA, stem cells...billions in, almost nothing out (caveat: we do have some macular degeneration drugs; what is interesting is that this is a topical treatment ; topical treatments work for very few diseases)

In particular, for the antisense there were these slides you saw at the conferences, traditional drug development 10years/500 million dollars per drug, antisense, 2 years/50 million (or some variation of these numbers)
10 years later the slides were recycled for miRNA; same slides, just change "antisense" to "miRNA"
I've been doing biotech for 20years, and every few years there is some new initiative out of DC that leads to lots of small companies getting grants that go nowhere.
There are a handful of exceptions, eg GenProbe, early on, had a huge (for the time and place) DARPA grant - 10 million if I recall

Sounds good to me, it'll pay my salary, but don't keep up waiting for the miracle drugs

missing tag (1)

cellocgw (617879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125938)

I'm amazed that nobody has either tagged or posted WCPGW yet. :-)

We need *new* antibiotics. (0)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126156)

The answer to antibiotic-resistant bugs is to develop *new* and *different* antibiotics. It's that whole diversity thing, y'know? The problem is that Big Pharma is no longer interested in developing drugs that make you better. There's far more money involved in developing drugs that you have to take for the rest of your life. When was the last time you saw a television commercial for an antibiotic? Nope, they'd rather have you on an antidepressant, a cholesterol medicine, a supplement for people whose antidepressants are rendered less effective by their cholesterol medicine, something for the high blood pressure resulting from the previous three medications, and of course something to perk up the old limp noodle from time to time.

Cure sickness? Once? Where's the money in that?
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