Antibiotics-a modest cough

When we started this blog-and indeed the Facebook page the proceeded it- our major aim was antibiotics. To draw attention to their failing supply, the dangers this posed, and of course efforts to develop new ones, or at least safe alternatives. Back then in 2015 the situation looked pretty bleak. But we rolled up our sleeves and with the help of kind persons who know far, far about IT than we do, we made a start.

Nothing we did could be equal to the efforts of Professor Colin Garner and his charity antibiotic research uk. Yet we got on the team and did our part in all sorts of ways. As did many, many others to a far greater extent. Including many of you who will be reading this, who helped and encouraged tirelessly.

Now we are happy to bring you news that real progress is being made. According to BBC Health [1] and other outlets, two new antibiotics called cefiderocol and ceftazimime will soon be available on the British NHS. What’s more it looks like their use will be more carefully guarded than older antibiotics. And someone has worked out ways so that it’s economically viable for drugs companies to produce the stuff.

So forgive us if we at LSS give a modest cough, point to ourselves and then say-thanks for following us this far. There is a long way to go, to coin an old platitude. But a start has been made. A ray of light indeed in the gloomiest of Aprils.

Homepage with ASK

#antibiotic resistance #superbugs #research

Stressed? Then get a pet

Yes it’s a stress-filled world out there right now. To add to our worries about global warming, pharmaceutical collapse and plastic pollution ,we now have to cope with the failures in anger management at the top of the Russian leadership. Any normal person might be forgiven for thinking it’s all getting to be a bit much.

Well, why not get a pet? According to Ann Hemingway of The Conversation, acquiring a furry friend such as a dog, a cat or a horse can can really chill you out. Apparently these animals invest in building and maintaining long-term emotional relationships. There is even evidence of therapists turning to our four-legged friends for their help in calming down traumatised children. We remember a fantastic story from 1996 of a tiger cub who was taken to meet the inmates of London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. The genuine joy of these patients was unforgettable. If anybody who was thre reads this, let us know-you’ll be in your thirties now!

So a nice little heart warmer for you today-but think about it. A dog might be a lot healthier for you than benzodiazepines. Because they won’t take you for a walk.

#cats #dogs #horses #animal welfare #stress

Weekly round up: of mushrooms, models, manipulators and dinosaur mummies

with thanks to many contributors this week

Mushrooms talking? Life is incredibly diverse and strange, as anyone who has even glanced at the huge unseen world of bacteria and fungi will tell you. Is it even possible these things can talk to one another? Both the Mail and the Guardian seem to think so

we thank Mr Gary Herbert for this story

Maths models make drugs methodical To see a thing done well, the fine tuning of means to ends, has always been our delight. Now it seems we could use mathematical models to enhance the delivery of some of our best drugs and medicines, Here’s Nature Briefings

Mathematical and computational models might be able to aid scientists in deciding the best dose for a future COVID-19 vaccine. The spectacular speed and effectiveness of the vaccines rolled out so far could have been even better if the amount given in each shot had been based on more than educated guesses, say advocates of the new technologies. Researchers typically use past experience and animal testing to find a sweet spot for vaccine doses that minimizes side effects and maximizes efficacy. Modelling that considers side effects, efficacy, the interval between doses and the type of immune response might be able to help.Nature | 13 min read

Manipulators at war. It’s an iron law of organisations, whether democratic or dictatorial, private or public. The different departments spend as much time fighting against each other as they do against the enemy. This piece came up because Mr Putin and his boys are in the news. But we recognise echoes of many places where we or friends have worked. The Conversation

Massive impact It’s a commonly asserted that a huge asteroid impacted the earth and wiped out the dinosaurs on a single day 66.5 million years ago. We have always disagreed, believing in fact that it happened on the Friday afternoon of the week before, so as to spoil everyone’s weekend. Like asteroids, like airlines so to speak. Now some amazing research by some scientists at the university of Manchester seems to have found a place which shows what happened on the very day of the strike here’s Live Science

Apparently the BBC have produced a documentary about this, fronted by Sir David Attenborough his should give details

See what we mean about people doing a job well? See you next week!

#fungi dinosaus #mushrooms mr putin #organisations #medicines #drugs #covid-19

Chocolate Cocktails for Easter

Easter is coming, and you might think that the mudslide of solid eatin’ chocolate which is about to engulf you will be enough. Think again, gentle reader, for we are proud to present not one but 47 recipes, for chocolate cocktails which means you can drink the stuff at the same time you scoff. How’s that for ergonomics? Our researchers toiled in the depths of the Interweb to bring you three sites with glorious recipes, so let’s waste not further time!

The Spruce Eats-31 recipes: What we liked about this was the way that old classics are given a chocolatey twist. There’s chocolate martinis, a margarita and variations on good old milk shakes. Plus an erudite and learned discussion comparing the delights of Creme de cacao and chocolate liqueur. Yet we are tipping the time honoured Brandy Alexander, which we first observed being mixed in a pub in West London in 1976, almost before we realised such things as cocktails existed. Good ol’ Spruce Eats, we’ll come back to them again. Meantime, here’s a link

BBC Good Food Many say the BBC and its truth telling was one of the Allies’ greatest weapons in World War 2. We hope the same now! To acknowledge this most civilised of institutions we link to their eight recipes. We think the salted caramel rum hot chocolate could keep you warm in case of those sudden icy blasts which can blight many an Easter plan, despite the abundant evidence for global warming.

Love to Know Finally our researchers insisted that this site joined the list, as there are some actual recipes. Who were we to refuse such admonitions? For a real difference, why not check out their Chocolate mint julep, a real spring treat by the sound of things.

According to well-attested research, the average person is said to consume 37.7856 Easter eggs between Maundy Thursday and the last weather broadcast on Monday night. So why not add to your pleasure by washing down that egg with one of our truly delicious suggestions-and make a real Easter to remember?

#chocolate #cocktails #easter #pascua #semana sancta #spring

Work: have we been getting it all wrong?

“In summer the grasshopper sang, while the ant worked. In winter the grasshopper had nothing, while the ant had a whole cupboard full of goodies. And some more in the freezer in the garage.” So ran the story of ancient Greek Fabulist Aesop. And his ideas have been used ever since to justify ever more Work as the supreme human virtue. From the Bible (also big on ants) through Weber and the Protestant work ethic to the efforts of such intellectual luminaries as Priti Patel and Dominic Raab [1] who characterised British workers as” among the worst idlers in the world,” work and a long hours culture have been exalted as the ultimate pinnacle of the human condition. Dissenting voices such as Keynes and Trades Unions having been crushed in the 1980s,,by the mid nineties it was common, at least in London where we lived, to hear of people like lawyers and doctors who were working fourteen hours a day, plus commutes. And bringing stuff home for the weekend!

Yet British productivity remains low compared to both advanced European countries, and the United States. Is there a chance that all these long hours are actually a drag on progress? Our indefatigable correspondent Mr Peter Seymour would like to present two lines of evidence which seem to open up debate, to say the least

Jandra Sutton of the Metro tried to run her life on a four hour working day [3] She was amazed not only at how much more productive she was, but at her burst of enthusiasm. It made us think-have you ever worked with one of those types who never seemed to go home, but lived at their desk? Did they really do more than everybody else?

And anyway, is working in huge 12-15 hour blocks really good for your health. What if it’s disrupting your sleep plans? Tanyel Mustafa, again of Metro[4] fame thinks we may have evolved to sleep in completely different ways

Ever since youth people are continually harassed to work harder, work longer, work quieter. work smarter, work…..well just work more really. To become ants, not grasshoppers. Wise admonitions-or just gaslighting?

[1] Britannia Unchained 2012




Weekly Round Up: Genomes, Antibiotics and Green Buildings

things that caught our eye this week

Most Complete Human Genome Yet Genetic knowledge is so important, helping in everything from the effectiveness of drugs to predicting inherited diseases. So we welcome this nice little incremental step reported in Nature Briefings.

An international consortium has sequenced the most complete version of the human genome ever, more than 20 years after researchers published the first draft. Around 200 million more bases now fill gaps — including the protective end-caps of chromosomes, known as telomeres, and central dense knobs called centromeres that help to orchestrate replication. The group announced on Twitter that they have sequenced another previously missing section — the Y chromosome. It “really gives us some insight into regions of the genome that have been invisible”, says genomicist Deanna Church.Science | 9 min read
Reference: Science papers

An apple a day? The scary threat of antibiotic-resistant organisms just won’t go away. There is evidence that the way we process and store fruit, even the humble apple, may be driving the new evolution of superbugs. Here’s Joe Davies for the Mail:

Cutting construction carbon There’s little doubt that the building industry is a big source of carbon emissions. They are well aware of this, but point out that you can’t exactly stop building new things! Maybe this Swedish idea will show a way to solve this tricky problem

The only credit we could find for this was Microsoft News-so thanks to the so far anonymous author!

And remember-all the advances we have alluded to above come from one simple thought process. You accept facts, however difficult they may be. You put them together using logic, and see if it works. If it doesn’t you like for more facts, or try a new logic.

The stupid, such as conspiracy theorists, never explain facts. They just explain them away. Instead of logic they just have huge rambling arabesques of special pleading. They achieve nothing and can lead to nothing positive. See you next week.

#carbon emissions #antibiotics #dna #genome

Friday Night Cocktails: 100 years of The Waste Land

2022 marks one hundred years since the publication of TS Eliot‘s famous poem The Waste Land. To celebrate this auspicious landmark, we at LSS are going to offer our own contribution-means of interpretation, you might say- to the celebrations of this remarkable work of literature. Cocktails. Many indeed will be the Modernists, post modernists, Marxists, structuralists, feminists and all sorts of other -ists who will have their say . But tonight, as you gather for readings with family, friends or those in the public bar, you will have your own special LSS method of literary criticism to offer. All you do is to take a few lines from the poem, and find a refreshing mix to match. Simple. So let’s get started

April is the cruellest month, breeding/lilacs out of the dead land mixing.

Stop there! All a bit cold and austere-so what better way to capture mixing that than a classic Dry Martini? Here’s a good old 10:1 mix from Diffords ,that’s shaken, not stirred. A couple of these and you’ll be muttering Bin gar keine Russin, whatever that means!

And talking of lilacs why not try a Moonlight cocktail? A delicious mix based around dry gin and Cointreau, our researcher chose this especially for the Creme de violette liquer that so subtly captures the tones of Eliot’s first stanza. We thank once again, ladies and gentlemen, the immortal Diffords-what a site!

Winter kept us warm, covering/Earth in forgetful snow, feeding

If it’s winter cocktails you’re after, Mr Eliot, the BBC Good Food guide has a whole list to warm the hearts of any poetry group. Click below for the Winter whisky sour, hot toddy and sloe gin fizz, to name but a few!

OK, here’s what to do next . Below you will find a link to the whole text, courtesy of The Poetry Society. Why not hack through, pick out a few lines and select an accompanying drink from your favourite menu book? Or even make your own! The Waste Land is long, difficult text. If we at LSS have done our bit to make it more accessible to a wider public, then our work for this week is done indeed.

Shantih, shantih, shantih-which means “cheers and bottoms up” in Sanskrit.

Antibiotics and carbon capture: two rays of hope in dark times

When we were persuaded to start this blog (and the Facebook page that proceeded it) it was mainly to promote research into new antibiotics and lend humble aid to charities like antibiotics research uk [1] who were doing so much in this great cause

Since then it’s grown, as we realised all progressive causes are interlinked. But we are still happy to tell you when something good happens in our Original Cause. And something in our newer fields of interest, so to speak. We’ve got one such of each today, and so without further ado, let’s see what they are

Teixobactin synthesised. Long standing readers will recall our reports of promising antibiotic candidates being dug out of the ground. The trouble was to synthesise them on an economic scale. Now, as John Ely reports for the Mail, a British team has worked up an original American discovery into something more applicable. [2] And what an argument this is for transnational cooperation and cross frontier collaboration!

Carbon Capture pays If you want something to work long term, find a way for someone to make money from it. Nature Briefings [3] has an excellent article on how we might start using all that spare carbon dioxide that’s kicking about to make things we can sell back to ourselves. There are some great diagrams and graphics if you click in, but here’s there summary Making stuff from CO2. Thoughtful, full and well-considered.

Many companies are chasing an alluring idea: divert greenhouse gases away from the atmosphere and use them to make products that are both virtuous and profitable. Some are boutique items for the climate-conscious shopper — vodka or diamonds, for example. Most are staples of the global economy: fuels, polymers, other chemicals and building materials. But there are tough questions about whether CO2 recycling genuinely benefits the climate: most of the products made this way will lock the gas away only temporarily.Nature | 15 min read




#antibiotics #microbial resistance #teixobactin #carbon capture #recycle ##climate change

Evo-Devo- an exciting new view of Biology

No, it doesn’t upset the applecart. But the view that Evo-Devo (Evolutionary Developmental Biology) gives us is potentially as exciting as the microscope and the telescope were in the seventeenth century. It is the study of the deep genetic relationships between different organisms, and it has led to some astounding insights in evolution and the way it works . And of course the knowledge gained could help us in all sorts of ways.

Ever since the early nineteenth century, scientists had noticed the remarkable similarities between the embryos of wildly different creatures such as sea squirts and elephants. But the was no molecular or genetic explanation as to why. However, the twentieth century revolution in molecular genetics and it associated technologies have changed all that to reveal some astounding insights:

*The same genes have been conserved for hundreds of millions of years, for the same purposes. For example the Distal-less gene complex is implicated in the structures which let such diverse creatures as flies, fish, chickens and sea urchins to get about. And everything else of course.

* So the main structural genes seem to evolve little and slowly. The big changes seem to be in the way they are switched on and off

* This in turn suggests it could be possible to to produce a reliable genetic portrait of the last common ancestor of all animals and the way it moved. Could this have been in the late Pre-Cambrian Ediacaran fauna?

*Is it possible that, at least early on, environmental influences were being “picked up” and conserved by the epigenetic systems around the core genomes? Well bless my Lamarckian socks if that one’s true!

This article in Wikipedia is a great starting point , but there’s plenty more out there if you want to give it a try. Go on-thinking about things in new ways will keep you young!,between

#evolutionary developmental biology #precambrian #ediacaran #repressor #dna #rna #genes #epigenetics

Weekly round up: Good writing, sick corals, bats and peeling bananas

things we noticed this week

Best writing There are different styles of writing, but we have always liked the terse reality prose which started in journalism, but was made literature by authors like Hammet and Hemmingway. Here is a marvellous example by Elliott Ackerman for The Atlantic

we thank Mr Peter Seymour of Hertfordshire for this example

Don’t take your eye off global warming There may be a war on, as they say but our other existential problems haven’t gone away. Hence this rather bleak assessment of the future of the great barrier reef. Great Bleaching Event… from Nature Briefings

The Great Barrier Reef is experiencing its fourth mass bleaching event in the past six years. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) confirmed the event following aerial surveys that showed widespread bleaching across a representative sample of 750 reefs, despite the cooling effect of the La Niña weather system. “It is important to note that bleached coral is stressed but still alive,” said the GBRMPA in a statement. “If conditions moderate, bleached corals can recover from this stress, as was the case in 2020.” Scientists have urged the United Nations cultural organization UNESCO to declare the reef ‘in danger’ to raise awareness that it is “nearing its tipping point, beyond which the reef will lose its function as a viable ecosystem”.The Guardian | 6 min read & The Conversation | 6 min read

Development versus Biodiversity Whenever developers smash up another piece of green land they nowadays make dubious claims about how it benefits things like biodiversity and sustainability. We have always wondered how concrete can possibly capture more carbon than trees do. As this article for the Conversation by three biologists with rather long names makes clear

Batman returns-sort of The diversity and abilities of bats has always been a source of wonder, and in the UK the few remaining examples are rightly protected. But as our Australian Correspondent Mr Gary Herbert has found, you can sometimes have too much of a good thing AP for the Guardian

Robot Appeal We at LSS have longed for the day when robots can take away a lot of the drudgery in things like cleaning, cooking and ironing (we will defend gardening to the death however!)The problem has always been to make the pesky things clever enough and skilled enough to do microtasks. So this one about them peeling bananas,from the Mail by Shivali Best, offers real hope:

sorry about lack of cocktails this week-the robot broke down!

#robot #AI #global warming #climate change #bats #australia #development #ukraine