SODIS Method Makes Water Safe to Drink

Each year, nearly one billion people around the world lack access to safe, clean water [1]. Water is essential for life, yet less than 1% of water on the planet is safe to drink. This is especially a problem in developing countries or during natural disasters. Take Hurricane Katrina: back in 2005 when it hit the Gulf Coast, one of the biggest needs for storm victims was access to clean drinking water.

In the United States and Europe, people take it for granted that when they turn on the faucet, clean water will flow out. Indeed, a single flush of a toilet in the West uses more water than most Africans have to perform an entire day’s washing, cleaning, cooking and drinking [2].

Securing access to safe water worldwide is vitally important. Clean water is essential for agriculture, food and energy production, recreation and reduction of poverty. More than 2 million people, most of them children, die every year from water-borne diseases. And time is of the essence: by 2020, more people could die of water-related diseases than those that have died due to HIV/AIDS [2].

SODIS in Indonesia

Synergy Between Antibiotics and Nonantibiotic Drugs

Antibiotic resistance is an ever-growing clinical problem. Four years ago, a study found that antibiotics are overprescribed for sinus infections. Compounding the issue is the fact that as bacteria are learning to tolerate and even circumvent existing classes of antibiotics, not enough work is being done to discover new ones. Combinations or cocktails of antibiotics are often used to broaden the antimicrobial spectrum of each and to achieve synergistic effects; this approach has successfully been applied to combat tuberculosis, leprosy, malaria, and famously, HIV. Yet the discovery of effective combinations has usually been almost fortuitous, most often resulting from trial and error rather than a systematic analysis.

Antibiotic cocktail

In the current study, researchers systematically examined combinations of 1,057 compounds previously approved as drugs to find those that exhibited synergy with the antibiotic minocycline. Their work is reported in the April 24, 2011 issue of the journal Nature Chemical Biology [1]. The compounds were chosen because they have already been approved as drugs, they are known to have activity in vivo and are known to be relatively safe. Many approved drugs are known to have utility for clinical indications other than those for which they initially received approval. Moreover, using pre-approved compounds also reduces the time and cost associated with developing new compounds for therapeutic use.

Survival of Children with HIV in the United States Has Improved Dramatically Since 1990s, New Analysis Shows

The death rates of children with HIV have decreased ninefold since doctors started prescribing cocktails of antiretroviral drugs in the mid-1990s, concludes a large-scale study of the long-term outcomes of children and adolescents with HIV in the United States. In spite of this improvement, however, young people with HIV continue to die at 30 times the rate of youth of similar age who do not have HIV, found researchers from the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.

Viral-based Human Disease and the Nobel Prize for Medicine

nobel medal in medicineThe 2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was announced earlier this week. The prize was awarded to three europeans for the discoveries of two viruses that cause severe human disease; the cancer-causing human papilloma virus (HPV) and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Two French scientists, Luc Montagnier, age 76, at the University of Paris in Paris, France and Francoise Barré-Sinoussi, age 61, at the Institut Pasteur in Garches, France will split half the prize for their discovery of the HIV virus. Barré-Sinoussi is the 8th woman to receive the Nobel award for Physiology or Medicine.

A German researcher, Harald zur Hausen, age 72, at the University of Dusseldorf, Germany, will receive the other half of the $1.3 million prize for establishing that most cervical cancers are caused by two types of human papilloma virus.

World AIDS Day

Today marks the 20th observance of World AIDS Day, an annual worldwide event established to increase awareness and education of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).