Health and wellness
(Public Library of Science press release via EurekAlert, 20 December 2006) -- A team from the Institut Pasteur has recently shown that the tuberculosis bacillus hides from the immune system in its host's fat cells. This formidable pathogen is protected against even the most powerful antibiotics in these cells, in which it may remain dormant for years. This discovery, published in PLoS ONE, sheds new light on possible strategies for fighting tuberculosis. Attempts to eradicate the bacillus entirely from infected individuals should take these newly identified reservoir cells into account. Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus responsible for tuberculosis can hide, in a dormant state, in adipose cells throughout the body. The bacterium is protected in this cellular environment, to which the natural immune defences have little access, and is inaccessible to isoniazid, one of the main antibiotics used to treat tuberculosis worldwide. These results were obtained by Olivier Neyrolles and his colleagues from the Mycobacterial Genetics Unit directed by Brigitte Gicquel at the Institut Pasteur, in collaboration with Paul Fornès, a pathologist from Hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou. They raise questions of considerable importance in the fight against tuberculosis. Tuberculosis kills almost two million people worldwide every year and is considered by the World Health Organisation to represent a global health emergency. However, the bacillus is much more prevalent in the world's population than the statistics would lead us to believe, because only 5 to 10% of those infected actually develop tuberculosis.
Posted 21 December 2006; 7:44:03 PM. Permalink
(Jorn Madslien/BBC News, 21 December 2006) -- Lovozero, Russia - Bored youths kick a football against a grey concrete wall. A husky dog languishes in the quiet street. In this town, where many would struggle to pay for a bus ticket, there are hardly any cars. "The last villagers came to Lovozero in 1968," says Nina Afanasyeva. "But there were no jobs for them." These days, some make traditional garments and souvenirs for the occasional tourist. And the Tundra reindeer farm cooperative provides some 300 jobs. Yet the majority of the Kola peninsula's indigenous people are unemployed, and in most cases reindeer herding is no longer an option. Instead, many spend their days in cramped apartments or in shacks on the edge of town, where vodka is their only comfort. "People were promised apartments with modern conveniences, but only three people from my village got that," says Ms Afanasyeva, a Sami elder. "The rest moved in with other families. To this day, many still haven't got their own place."
Posted 21 December 2006; 6:53:00 PM. Permalink