• EptA, the protein that causes multi-drug resistance by masking bacteria from both the human immune system and important antibiotics, has been discovered and seen as a huge step forward in the global fight against superbugs.
• Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide failed to report the deaths of eight infants over nine-year period. SA coroner Mark Johns expressed confidence that measures had been put in place to avoid similar failures in the future.
• A study suggests that adding sugar tax could lead to longer lives and reduced health costs if introduced with other measures encouraging healthier eating.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 16th of February 2017. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News
The Australian discovery of the three-dimensional structure of a protein responsible for multi-drug resistant bacteria is a huge step forward in the global fight against superbugs, the lead scientist of the study says.
The protein, called EptA, causes multi-drug resistance by masking bacteria from both the human immune system and important antibiotics.
Commonly called superbugs for their resistance to even the most potent antibiotics, multi-drug resistant bacteria are responsible for approximately 700,000 deaths a year.
The World Health Organisation has predicted this figure could rise to 10 million by 2050.
A colistin-resistant strain of bacteria uncovered in 2015 was of grave concern for health authorities.
Colistin is used as a last-resort antibiotic for bacteria untreatable by other means, but extensive use of the drug in livestock in China produced a resistant strain of bacteria.
Professor of Structural Biology Alice Vrielink from the University of Western Australia, where the EptA structure was discovered, said the breakthrough was particularly important because it would allow the development of a drug to prevent superbugs hiding from medication.
The University of Western Australia’s School of Molecular Sciences used a technique called X-ray crystallography to map the shape of EptA.
Professor Vrielink said the discovery was very exciting.
The development of a drug to prevent the masking of bacteria is still a number of years away, but Professor Vrielink said this breakthrough opened the door to combating the threat of antibiotic resistance.
Adelaide’s Women’s and Children’s Hospital failed to report the deaths of eight infants over a nine-year period, SA coroner Mark Johns has said.
Mr Johns raised the concerns in his annual report, writing that once advised of the situation he directed a forensic pathologist to hold an urgent review of the eight cases.
He said while the review didn’t find “any adverse events or systemic problems in treatment and care of the infants”, he was compelled to highlight the seriousness of the failure.
Mr Johns said he held a number of discussions with the hospital’s CEO, to find out how the medical practitioners involved could have misunderstood their obligations under the Coroners Act.
He said he also asked the hospital to contact the families of the infants, to explain why the death was not reported at the time.
While six families had been reached, he said the hospital had been unable to locate the other two due to the passage of time.
After meeting with hospital management, Mr Johns expressed confidence that measures had been put in place to avoid similar failures in the future.
A sugar tax could lead to longer lives and reduced health costs if introduced with other measures encouraging healthier eating, researchers at the University of Melbourne say.
In an article to be published in the PLOS (Public Library of Science) Magazine, modelling by the university’s Centre for Health Policy concludes that taxing foods that are high in sugar, salt and saturated fats — as well as subsidising fruit and vegetables — would also save $3.4 billion in healthcare costs.
“The study suggests that taxes and subsidies on foods and beverages can potentially be combined to achieve substantial improvements in population health and cost savings to the health sector,” …
“The modelling illustrates the potentially large benefits of combining food taxes and subsidies for improving population health and reducing health sector spending.”
It said a sugar tax alone would result in 1.2 additional years of healthy life per 100 Australians, while a combination of taxes and subsidies would add 2.1 years using the same measure.
The researchers’ model was based on Australia’s population in 2010.