Scientists have developed a pioneering new treatment to prevent bacterial skin infections, which could be used in the battle against ‘superbugs’, such as MRSA.
The new treatment, developed by researchers at the University of Sheffield and funded by Age UK, is a new way to prevent skin wounds, such as bed-sores and ulcers, becoming infected.
This new treatment has been proven to work on antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA, which is currently one of the biggest threats to global healthcare and medicine.
Bacterial skin infections are a major problem for older people and people with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes. Infected wounds heal more slowly, causing pain and distress for the patient, and are a significant cost to the NHS in the UK.
To launch an infection, bacteria attach tightly to skin cells and have learned to hijack ‘sticky patches’ on human cells to achieve this. Using proteins called tetraspanins, from human cells, the Sheffield scientists have made these patches much less sticky, allowing bacteria to be harmlessly washed away.
The research has shown that these proteins prevent bacterial infections in a model of human skin, which the scientists say give a clear indication that this treatment is both safe and effective.
This treatment was trialled on a model of 3D tissue engineered skin (TEskin) developed by engineers at the University.
The engineered skin, pioneered by Professor Sheila MacNeil from the University’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, can model infected wounds in human skin and mimics the tissue structure of normal adult skin. It can be used to analyse the penetration of peptides and bacteria.
Dr Pete Monk from the University’s Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease, who led the study, said: “This development is a huge breakthrough in the fight against antibiotic-resistance.
“Skin infections, such as bed-sores and ulcers, can be incredibly troubling for patients who may already be dealing with other debilitating conditions. They are also a significant problem for modern healthcare.
“We hope that this new therapy can be used to help relieve the burden of skin infections on both patients and health services while also providing a new insight into how we might defeat the threat of antimicrobial drug resistance.
“The therapy could be administered to patients using a gel or cream and could work well as a dressing. We’re hoping it can reach clinical trials stage in the next three to five years.”
Unlike conventional antibiotics, the tetraspanin proteins do not directly kill bacteria and so do not encourage the evolution of resistance.
Now, with substantial research funding from the Humane Research Trust, Sheffield scientists are developing the proteins for new anti-bacterial dressings that will help keep wounds sterile and so promote more rapid healing.
Robot unfolds from ingestible capsule, removes button battery stuck to wall of simulated stomach.
In experiments involving a simulation of the human esophagus and stomach, researchers at MIT, the University of Sheffield, and the Tokyo Institute of Technology have demonstrated a tiny origami robot that can unfold itself from a swallowed capsule and, steered by external magnetic fields, crawl across the stomach wall to remove a swallowed button battery or patch a wound.
The new work, which the researchers are presenting this week at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation, builds on a long sequence of papers on origami robots from the research group of Daniela Rus, the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
“It’s really exciting to see our small origami robots doing something with potential important applications to health care,” says Rus, who also directs MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). “For applications inside the body, we need a small, controllable, untethered robot system. It’s really difficult to control and place a robot inside the body if the robot is attached to a tether.”
The University of Sheffield (informally Sheffield University) is a research university based in the city of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, England.
It received its royal charter in 1905 as a successor to Sheffield Medical School (1828) and University College of Sheffield (1897). As one of the original ‘red brick’ universities, it is also a member of the prestigious Russell Group of research intensive universities.
In 2012, QS World University Rankings placed Sheffield as the 66th university worldwide. The year before, Sheffield was also named ‘University of the Year’ 2011 in the Times Higher Education awards.
The university has more than 17000 undergraduate and around 7000 postgraduate students in 2012. The annual income of the institution for 2011-12 was £446.9 million, with an expenditure of £427.6 million, resulting in a surplus of £19.3 million.
The Latest Updated Research News:
University of Sheffield research articles from Innovation Toronto
- Ingestible origami robot steered by external magnetic fields – May 13, 2016
- Bee model could be breakthrough for robot development – May 7, 2016
- Packaging industry revolution: Interactive screens on your packages – April 9, 2016
- Researchers take giant step towards ‘holy grail’ of silicon photonics – March 8, 2016
- Scientists discover bird blood cell which destroys fatal fungal infection – February 27, 2016
- Deformed Wing Virus spread manmade and emanates from Europe – February 5, 2016
- Enhanced rock weathering could help counter fossil-fuel emissions and protect our oceans- December 15, 2015
- The solution to faster computing? Sing to your data – November 5, 2015
- MRI scanners can steer tumour busting viruses to specific target sites within the body – August 22, 2015
- Ultrasound accelerates skin healing – especially for diabetics and the elderly – July 14, 2015
- Could This Machine Push 3-D Printing into the Manufacturing Big Leagues? – June 30, 2015
- 3D-printed guides can help restore function in damaged nerves – February 25, 2015
- Graphene displays clear prospects for flexible electronics – February 4, 2015
- Spray-on cells can turn ANYTHING into a solar panel – August 2, 2014
- Clever Intelli-copters Learn as they Fly – July 13, 2014
- Simplicity is key to co-operative robots – April 19, 2014
- 3D unmanned aircraft that could be disposable and sent on one-way flights for delivery, search or reconnaissance purposes. | disposable UAVs – April 10, 2014
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- Pentagon-funded Atlas robot refuses to be knocked over
- New 10 second sourcing technology set to transform archaeology
- Kick-starting Europe’s electric vehicle industry
- Swarming robots could be the servants of the future
- New treatment could combat deadly chemical agents
- New technique to deliver stem cell therapy may help damaged eyes regain their sight
- ‘Green Brain’ project to create an autonomous flying robot with a honey bee brain
- Human Embryonic Stem Cells Restore Gerbil Hearing
- New wave of technologies possible after ground-breaking analysis tool developed
- Invention could fix scourge of water pipe leaks
- New Technique May Help Severely Damaged Nerves Regrow and Restore Function
- New process could revolutionize electron microscopy
- Scientists hail algae biofuel breakthrough
- Lasers Light the Path to Neuron Regeneration
- New Light On Detection of Bacterial Infection
- Getting Computers to Understand Overlapping Speech
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- Call for debate on killer robots
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- Minds of their own
Creation of first practical silicon-based laser has the potential to transform communications, healthcare and energy systems
A group of researchers from the UK, including academics from Cardiff University, has demonstrated the first practical laser that has been grown directly on a silicon substrate.
It is believed the breakthrough could lead to ultra-fast communication between computer chips and electronic systems and therefore transform a wide variety of sectors, from communications and healthcare to energy generation.
The EPSRC-funded UK group, led by Cardiff University and including researchers from UCL and the University of Sheffield, have presented their findings in the journal Nature Photonics.
Silicon is the most widely used material for the fabrication of electronic devices and is used to fabricate semiconductors, which are embedded into nearly every device and piece of technology that we use in our everyday lives, from smartphones and computers to satellite communications and GPS.
Electronic devices have continued to get quicker, more efficient and more complex, and have therefore placed an added demand on the underlining technology.
Researchers have found it increasingly difficult to meet these demands using conventional electrical interconnects between computer chips and systems, and have therefore turned to light as a potential ultra-fast connector.
Whilst it has been difficult to combine a semiconductor laser – the ideal source of light – with silicon, the UK group have now overcome these difficulties and successfully integrated a laser directly grown onto a silicon substrate for the very first time.
Professor Huiyun Liu, who led the growth activity, explained that the 1300 nm wavelength laser has been shown to operate at temperatures of up to 120°C and for up to 100,000 hours.
Professor Peter Smowton, from Cardiff University’s School of Physics and Astronomy, said: “Realising electrically-pumped lasers based on Si substrates is a fundamental step towards silicon photonics.
“The precise outcomes of such a step are impossible to predict in their entirety, but it will clearly transform computing and the digital economy, revolutionise healthcare through patient monitoring, and provide a step-change in energy efficiency.
“Our breakthrough is perfectly timed as it forms the basis of one of the major strands of activity in Cardiff University’s Institute for Compound Semiconductors and the University’s joint venture with compound semiconductor specialists IQE.”
Professor Alwyn Seeds, Head of the Photonics Group at University College London, said: “The techniques that we have developed permit us to realise the Holy Grail of silicon photonics – an efficient and reliable electrically driven semiconductor laser directly integrated on a silicon substrate. Our future work will be aimed at integrating these lasers with waveguides and drive electronics leading to a comprehensive technology for the integration of photonics with silicon electronics.”
A new insight into how sharks regenerate their teeth, which may pave the way for the development of therapies to help humans with tooth loss, has been discovered by scientists at the University of Sheffield.
The study has identified a network of genes that enables sharks to develop and regenerate their teeth throughout their lifetime. The genes also allow sharks to replace rows of their teeth using a conveyer belt-like system.
Scientists have known for some time that some fish, such as sharks and rays, develop rows of highly specialised teeth with the capacity for lifelong regeneration. However the genetic mechanisms which enable this to happen were poorly understood.
Now the research team, led by Dr Gareth Fraser from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, has identified how a special set of epithelial cells form, called the dental lamina, which are responsible for the lifelong continuation of tooth development and regeneration in sharks.
Humans also possess this set of cells, which facilitate the production of replacement teeth, but only two sets are formed – baby and adult teeth – before this set of specialised cells is lost.
The spread of a disease that is decimating global bee populations is manmade, and driven by European honeybee populations, new research has concluded.
A study led by the University of Exeter and UC Berkeley and published in the journal Science found that the European honeybee Apis mellifera is overwhelmingly the source of cases of the Deformed Wing Virus infecting hives worldwide. The finding suggests that the pandemic is manmade rather than naturally occurring, with human trade and transportation of bees for crop pollination driving the spread.
Although separately they are not major threats to bee populations, when the Varroa mite carries the disease, the combination is deadly, and has wiped out millions of honeybees over recent decades. Varroa feed on bee larvae while the Deformed Wing Virus kills off bees, a devastating double blow to colonies. The situation is adding to fears over the future of global bee populations, with major implications for biodiversity, agricultural biosecurity, global economies, and human health.
The study was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and supported by a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship. It involved collaborators from the universities of Sheffield, Cambridge, Salford and UC Berkeley, as well as ETH Zurich in Switzerland.
Lead author Dr Lena Wilfert, of the University of Exeter’s Centre for Ecology and Conservation, on the Penryn Campus in Cornwall, said: “This is the first study to conclude that Europe is the backbone of the global spread of the bee killing combination of Deformed Wing Virus and Varroa. This demonstrates that the spread of this combination is largely manmade – if the spread was naturally occurring, we would expect to see transmission between countries that are close to each other, but we found that, for example, the New Zealand virus population originated in Europe. This significantly strengthens the theory that human transportation of bees is responsible for the spread of this devastating disease. We must now maintain strict limits on the movement of bees, whether they are known to carry Varroa or not. It’s also really important that beekeepers at all levels take steps to control Varroa in their hives, as this viral disease can also affect wild pollinators.”
Researchers analysed sequence data of Deformed Wing Virus samples across the globe from honeybees and Varroa mites, as well as the occurrence of Varroa. They used the information to reconstruct the spread of Deformed Wing Virus and found that the epidemic largely spread from Europe to North America, Australia and New Zealand. They found some two-way movement between Europe and Asia, but none between Asia and Australasia, despite their closer proximity. The team also looked at samples from other species suspected of transmitting the disease, including different species of honeybee, mite and bumblebees, but concluded that the European honeybee was the key transmitter.
Professor Roger Butlin, Professor of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Sheffield, said: “Our study has found that the deformed wing virus is a major threat to honeybee populations across the world and this epidemic has been driven by the trade and movement of honeybee colonies.
“Domesticated honeybee colonies are hugely important for our agriculture systems, but this study shows the risks of moving animals and plants around the world. The consequences can be devastating, both for domestic animals and for wildlife. The risk of introducing viruses or other pathogens is just one of many potential dangers.”
Senior author Professor Mike Boots of Exeter and UC Berkeley concluded: “The key insight of our work is that the global virus pandemic in honeybees is manmade not natural. It’s therefore within our hands to mitigate this and future disease problems.”