For a long time, antibiotics served as “tracers” in recombination studies by inducing resistance in the objects of study which could thrive and be isolated from cultures that were otherwise poisoned by an antibiotic– thus, not only do cellular entities accumulate antibiotic resistance as a type of mutation, but so do their interchangeable parts, compounding their antibiotic-resistance profiles. For example, a citation from a Finnish study covering infections reported 1990 to 2000 notes E.coli “sensitivity to 12 antimicrobial agents.
. State-of-the-art recombination genetics is readily taking up “marker” protein genes like the green fluorescent protein (gfp) from jellyfish, ostensibly as a safer alternative and infinitely fascinating as another paradigm in transgenetics. Still, antibiotics are very useful genetic expression ‘promoters’ and continue to be used in bioengineering.
The toxin-making parts of lambda-bearing genomes have all been isolated and described but scientists have yet to realize the fullness of biochemical conditions that cause the toxin genes to turn on and ‘express’. They do know that “the bacteriophage life cycle is the dominant, if not the only, important factor involved in stx2
Why would (some) scientists want
to turn on
the deadly shiga toxin-producing mechanism of the genes? There are reasons far beyond the call of medicine. Genetic engineers have very
sophisticated needs in their search for knowledge and limited technologies and resources with which to explore them. I imagine there’s nothing quite as effective as handing a major public health threat over to a technically advanced society in order to get some help. The shiga toxin components of genes have enormously useful properties in the genetics industry.
has been a long-standing field of study. ..”The bacterium Escherichia coli is truly the workhorse of biology. Originally isolated in 1922 from a diphtheria patient, the strain of E.coli [completely and recently] sequenced was used in 1945 in the discovery of spontaneous gene transfer. The strain, known as K-12, was universally adopted for fundamental work in biochemistry, genetics and physiology…E.coli is not the first bacterial genome to be sequenced, but with more than 4.6 million bases, it is the largest and possibly most important… The K-12 strain of E.coli is not pathogenic but closely related strains are toxic.” http://accessexcellence.org/WN/SUA11/ecoli997.php
. Mentioned earlier in “Transgenic Round-up”, recombinant DNA techniques were perfected by the 1970s with E.coli. See the work of Paul Berg and Maxine Singer.
In the last decade E.coli research has opened a biotechnology platform for wholly new ‘life’ creations with artificial amino acids:
“..We have evolved [a bioactive agent]..that makes possible the in vivo incorporation of [an artificial synthetic amino acid] into proteins in Escherichia coli… This unnatural amino acid was incorporated with high translational efficiency and fidelity.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.gov/pmc/articles/PMC123203/
“Augmenting proteins with unnatural amino acids could make existing proteins more potent in their actions, or even endow them with entirely new properties that might be useful for industry or medicine. Dr. Schultz’s [E.coli] bacteria, for example, look and act entirely like normal creatures until they are placed in contact with a certain sort of poison. Then, because they are producing an unnatural protein, they survive while all the others die.” http://www.economist.com/node/987697?story_id=987697
Raising the ‘possibilities of meaning’ in E.coli outbreaks occurring after 2004, when the ‘new amino’ insertion techniques became a commodious reality, deserve special attention. Two considerations come to mind; that the E.coli are stealthily vectoring artificial genes and the shiga toxin subunits are installing genetic controls: one vector with multi-use potential. It will take months and years for published study material on the current outbreak strain to make it into the public sphere, even then, the likelihood that new amino acids are factored into standard tests is slim-to-none. For the time being, only the upper echelon labs will have the capacity to identify the rogue material. General researchers fully understand that mutant strains present unknowns which can remain unknown or evade definition for years. If such a probability exists at present, it’s a secret experiment that will bear fruit for its instigators who have in their labs a description of ideal-sounding binary bioweapons. The close structural relationship and gene-swapping properties of E.coli and related “homologous” phage is a biological SureThing, spreading naturally wherever it is
introduced (albeit slowly unless unnaturally assisted). Stx-producing enterohemorrhagic E.coli (STEC) is also a sure thing– sure to drive victims to seek emergency medical care. There’s going to be lots of samples, lots of DNA, and probable new toxic mutants.
“Physicians know not to prescribe antibiotics for O157 infections because the sudden killing of the bacteria can release HUS[hemolytic uremic syndrome]-inducing and potentially deadly amounts of Shiga toxin… that fact could have created one major problem in the early development of the [May 2011] outbreak: It is likely that German hospitals were only screening the first enterohemorrhagic E.coli symptoms for O157 and not O104, which no one would have suspected… ‘In this case, [said Jorge Giron], because it wasn’t O157, the physicians might have thought it was okay to give antibiotics, not knowing that O104 would produce the Shiga toxin… This potential misunderstanding over antibiotics might at least partially explain the high rate of HUS among the ill’ ” http://www.lavidalocavore.org/diary/4763/o104h4-may-change-how-we-deal-with-e-coli
because somehow the unprecedented rate
of HUS needs explaining. Previous toxic E.coli outbreaks have produced a rate of HUS around 3-6%, now trending upwards to 10%. But just as likely to happen only moreso
among skilled physicians who know they don’t
have O157 on their hands is to give no
antibiotics and allow the normally self-limiting infection to run its course– this is especially plausible with adult patients who subsequently made up the majority cases of HUS. The 1996 Komatsu Japan Stx1 school outbreak (non-O157), linked above, is an example of infected patients receiving no antibiotics (approx. half) and resolving their infections equally well and sometimes better. Mr. Giron’s suggestion just doesn’t fly. The more I look at the German “Egyptian sprout” outbreak, the stranger it gets in comparison to other documented outbreaks. I’m considering the cofactor with radioactive fallout
based on past anthrax episodes as an opportune moment-in-time, so I’ve set up a link with microbe-hunting results and I’m adding in the accumulating news.
“Hemolytic uremic syndrome
is a severe, life-threatening complication of an E.coli..infection that was first described in 1955
… The Shiga toxin triggers a complex cascade of changes in the blood..and there is disruption of the inherent clot-breaking mechanisms… About ten percent of individuals with [toxic] E.coli..infections (mostly young children) goes on to develop Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome.” http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/three-suffering-kidney-failure-hus-from-alabama-e-coli-poisoning/
; “The principle organ affected in STEC-mediated HUS is the kidney
… The severity of renal injury varies in degree from urinary abnormalities such as hematuria and proteinuria to acute renal failure… The second most important organ affected in the disease is the brain
… more serious cerebral complications, including seizures, cortical blindness, and thrombotic strokes, occur in 5 to 10% of patients… A similar percentage of patients may develop life-threatening cardiopulmonary sequelae
, including adult [acute] respiratory distress syndrome [ARDS], congestive heart failure and myocarditis. The occurrance of neurological and cardiovascular complications is associated with more severe STEC-induced HUS and a higher risk of mortality during the acute illness. Other organs that are frequently involved in STEC-induced HUS are the endocrine and exocrine pancreas, liver, gall bladder, gastrointestinal tract, and skin. It is evident that STEC-induced HUS is a systemic illness potentially affecting every organ throughout the body.
“…the outbreak originating in Germany shows 87%
of those hit by the disease were women over the age of 20
… the German outbreak..displayed ‘several intriguing
microbiological characteristics’ and ‘several novel
epidemiological and clinical features’..[that] ‘differed remarkably’
from previously described STEC/VTEC infections… Among the ‘completely unexpected’
features was the development of severe neurological symptoms in half of patients within 3 to 10 days of being admitted to hospital..” http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/kfojidqlsney/rss2/
No treatment for humans — vaccines for cows
More information about Shiga toxin E. coli, Alexion
* Pharmaceuticals Inc. (et.al.) and the bioweapon potential of Stx is here http://citizen2009.wordpress.com/e-coli/
(page in progress) and keep this in mind
“Biotechnology now allows us to genetically engineer animals so that they produce proteins that are human pharmaceuticals. For certain drugs that are difficult to produce using existing methods or are needed in large quantities, production in GE animals offers the most efficient and practical solution. In the case of fighting infectious diseases, GE animal-made antibodies can be produced from animals that have had the human antibody genes transferred to them. These animals can then be vaccinated against human diseases and antibodies can be collected from their blood and used for treating diseases in humans. For example, antibodies can treat infections that are resistant to antibiotics.” http://www.bio.org/foodag/animals/GE_An_Pharm_0908.pdf
“On March 13, 2009, the USDA granted a conditional license for a new tool in the battle against foodborne illness –a vaccine for cows to prevent infection with E.coli bacteria… Cattle themselves do not experience illness from the bacteria. ” http://www.dmaonline.org/CE/food_protection/2009_05.shtml
>>>cattle immunity to STEC no longer seems to be true –another significant round of ‘firsts’ in 1996 involves cattle infections.
Alexion Antibody Technologies was invited to give Congress a very exclusive pitch for Project BioShield funds in 2003, before approval of the program, and now the German health authorities have approved of Alexion running clinical drug trials on the latest E.coli victims. Alexion is giving away an ultra-expensive drug in exchange for access to patients.
[Feb 2011] Alexion Chairman Max Link
sold 47,367 shares, valued at $95 per share… “he retains 92,898 shares… Dr. Link has been the company chairman since December 2002..[and was] formerly CEO of Corange, the parent company of Boehringer Mannheim Therapeutics..[also] formerly the Chairman and CEO of Sandoz Pharma, Ltd.”…”Ann M. Veneman
was appointed to Alexion’s Board..previously she served as Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF
)”..[from 2005-2010, after resigning her GWBush appointment as Secretary of Agriculture]
Dr. Max Link also became Chairman of Protein Design Labs Inc.[Fremont,CA] in 2004, when the developer of antibody drugs accrued major revenues from products like Avastin (licensed to Roche subsidiary Genentech): “Avastin is a recombinant humanized monoclonal IgG1 antibody..of mouse origin..produced in a Chinese hamster ovary..” approved in 2004 for colorectal cancer treatment. http://www.discoverymedicine.com/Benjamin-Yang/2009/06/17/drug-profile-avastin
“Ms. Veneman’s training and experience as a corporate lawyer for agribusiness
do not qualify her for the substantial task of leading the agency most responsible for the rights of children worldwide. There is no evidence in her tenure as U.S. secretary of agriculture
, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, or deputy undersecretary for international affairs of the USDA
of her interest in the world’s children or their health and well-being.” http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Ann_Veneman
In addition to Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Veneman joined the Board of Nestle, the world’s largest food and beverage producer: “Veneman took the post despite pleas from nutrition advocates who urged her not to lend her imprimatur to the company’s marketing of breast milk substitutes” http://www.newsok.com/ex-unicef-head-joins-nestle-board-despite-protests/article/feed/250068?custom_click=pod_headline_europe
; the best preventive to Stx-producing E.coli in children is, naturally, breast milk. In Europe and the U.S., 1971 marked an all-time-low in breast-feeding when only 1% of new mothers chose to persist in natural feeding past their ‘hospital stay’. The successful War on Milk rages on…
Deadlier Threshold for Stx
Researchers recently learned that Stx genes multiply exponentially faster than their E.coli hosts:
 “Demonstration of the ability of [ Stx phage] to form multiple lysogens has two potentially serious impacts. First, multiple integrated prophages will drive the evolution of bacterial pathogens as novel Stx-phages emerge following intracellular mutation/recombination events. Second, multiple copies of the Stx gene may lead to an increase in toxin production and consequently increased virulence…. there is considerable scope for Stx integration directed by as yet uncharacterized factors… Clearly, the occurence of multiple lysogens in a single host
[cell] is likely to enhance the evolution and dissemination of bacteriophage-encoded genes
throughout bacterial populations, with particular applied relevance for Stx-phages responsible for increasing the pathogenic potential of Escherichia coli hosts.” http://mic.sgmjournals.org/content/153/12/4098.full