Uncovering the Dark Side of Insect-Bacteria Interactions

The world is full of fascinating associations between insects and bacteria. Members of the bacterial phyla, actinomycetes, produce diverse chemical compounds that help protect insects from infection. Despite the fact that other secreted compounds can be toxic to insects, researchers had never identified a partnership where actinomycetes inflicted harm on an insect. That was until September 2020, when Dr. Justin Nodwell’s team published their fascinating discoveries on the toxic chemical interactions between Streptomyces and fruit flies.

Mobilizing Twitter for COVID-19 surveillance

COVID-19 is a worldwide health emergency. Digital disease surveillance, including social media-based technologies, represents an innovative approach that may allow us to better understand and contain its transmission. Here, Bisanzio et al. use geolocation data from Twitter as a proxy for human mobility in order to track the early global spread of COVID-19 cases.

Crohn’s and NOD2: A Classic Interaction Re-Examined

While NOD2 mutations are linked to Crohn's disease occurrence, the exact mechanism by which loss of NOD leads to intestinal inflammation is unclear. Here, Prescott et al demonstrate a possible mechanism by which NOD induces an anti-inflammatory microenvironment with CD103+ Dendritic Cells, possibly opening a avenue for Crohn’s disease therapy.

Digesting Organic Waste to Diminish Antibiotic Resistance

The organic fraction of municipal solid waste is an under-appreciated reservoir for the accumulation and spread of antimicrobial resistance. To combat this, Kanger et al. use a lab-scale anaerobic digestion system to evaluate whether this waste treatment technology can effectively reduce the diversity and abundance of resistance determinants present in solid organic waste.

New Perspective on Antiretroviral Treatments: Restricting HIV-1 Replication by Targeting Intracellular Signaling Pathways

Increased resistance to current antiretroviral therapies requires discovery of alternate measures for HIV treatment. Wong et al. identified 5342191 as a compound that restricts viral replication through activation of host intracellular signaling. Findings were replicated in both wild-type and HIV-resistant strains, making 5342191 a promising candidate for future treatments.

Evaluating the “Pro” of Probiotics: No Benefits of Lactobacillus therapy for Pediatric Acute Gastroenteritis

While the verdict is still out on the benefits of probiotics, these supplements command a multibillion-dollar global market. Numerous clinical trials have aimed to determine the usefulness of probiotics, however, many have been hampered by limitations such as insufficient sample size. In this study, Freedman et al. investigate the efficacy of probiotics in the treatment of viral-induced pediatric acute gastroenteritis.

PRiME Mini Symposium Highlights: U of T Researchers Jump Into Action to Tackle COVID-19

Highlights from the second iteration of the PRiME COVID-19 mini symposium established to showcase research recently funded by the Toronto COVID-19 Action Fund. This post features research being done to improve the throughput of SARS-CoV-2 testing, to develop robust antibody testing and therapeutics, and the facilities that support this expanding field.

Using Antioxidants to Treat Bacterial-Induced Colorectal Cancer

The link between IBD and colon cancer is widely accepted. Irrazabal et al. establish a fascinating mechanistic link between these two devastating diseases. The pathobionts underlying IBD produce metabolites which lead to the increased production of reactive oxygen species, damaging the host DNA, and leading to tumorigenesis. Promisingly, the authors find that antioxidants can effectively treat this is mouse models.

Microbes that Clean Up: Bioremediation of Pesticide-Polluted Banana Fields

The historic use of chlordecone as a pesticide to control banana weevil infestations has resulted in pollution of large land areas in the French West Indies. With a project spanning eight years, University of Toronto researchers provide evidence that bioremediation may be a viable approach to decontaminate chlordecone polluted grounds.
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