It May Be Your Microbiome Will Become Your Personal Pharmacy
It may be possible to treat eczema with a super-effective ointment made from your own microbes.
It’s estimated the skin condition eczema afflicts some 18 million Americans. Ezcmea is actually a category of skin irritations, the most common of which is atopic dermatitis (AD). “Atopic” means “hereditary,” by the way. In any event, the stuff itches at best, and can result in serious irritations and cracked and oozing skin at worst. (Sorry, were you eating?). It’s also difficult to get under control. Now a study suggests that it may be possible to prevent AD, or even treat it, using beneficial bacteria already on your own skin.
As we’ve come to understand our microbiomes , we’ve realized there’s good bacteria — from our point of view, of course — and bad. Staphylococcus aureus would be one of the latter kind, and it’s known to aggravate AD. (We don’t yet know if it causes it.) Staphylococcus aureus is known as “Golden staph” and is also a precursor to MRSA, the antibiotic-resistant superbug.
Golden staph (NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE)
Knowing that everyone’s skin hosts various types of bacteria, Richard Gallo, dermatology chairman at the University of California, San Diego, wanted to have a closer look at why some people have issues with AD while others don’t. He and his team took swabs from 49 people with AD and 30 people with healthy skin.
What they found was that those with healthy skin had greater numbers of two beneficial bacteria called Staphylococcus hominis and Staphylococcus epidermis. These bacteria are known to secrete “antibacterial peptides” that act as natural antibiotics shown in lab cultures and on animal skin to kill Staphylococcus aureus, and even a strain of MRSA, without harming other bacteria. (Man-made antibiotics are blunt instruments that kill off beneficial bacteria at the same time as they attack harmful strains.) As it turns out, there was less of these good bacteria on the skin of people with AD. Gallo told the Associated Press, “People with this type of eczema, for some reason that’s not quite known yet, have a lot of bacteria on the skin but it’s the wrong type of bacteria. They’re not producing the antimicrobials they need.”
(ORRLING AND TOMER S)
The team identified five volunteers who had Staphylococcus aureus on their skin but hadn’t yet developed AD. They collected Staphylococcus hominis and Staphylococcus epidermis from each subject’s skin and mixed it together with some over-the-counter moisturizer. The subjects were then instructed to apply their personalized moisturizer on one arm and regular cream on the other. By the next day, with three of the five subjects, the tweaked moisturizer had killed off most of the Staphylococcus aureus; for the other two, it had eliminated it altogether. ““We’re encouraged that we see the Staph aureus, which we know makes the disease worse, go away,” Gallo said.
It’s still unknown whether a similar approach will help patients who’ve already developed AD, and what the approach’s long-term affects would be, but next-step clinical trials are underway.
More Staphylococcus aureus
Why self-control makes your life better, and how to get more of it.
(Photo by Geem Drake/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
- Research demonstrates that people with higher levels of self-control are happier over both the short and long run.
- Higher levels of self-control are correlated with educational, occupational, and social success.
- It was found that the people with the greatest levels of self-control avoid temptation rather than resist it at every turn.
Ready your Schrödinger's Cat Jokes.
- For a time, quantum computing was more theory than fact.
- That's starting to change.
- New quantum computer designs look like they might be scalable.
Quantum computing has existed in theory since the 1980's. It's slowly making its way into fact, the latest of which can be seen in a paper published in Nature called, "Deterministic teleportation of a quantum gate between two logical qubits."
To ensure that we're all familiar with a few basic terms: in electronics, a 'logic gate' is something that takes in one or more than one binary inputs and produces a single binary output. To put it in reductive terms: if you produce information that goes into a chip in your computer as a '0,' the logic gate is what sends it out the other side as a '1.'
A quantum gate means that the '1' in question here can — roughly speaking — go back through the gate and become a '0' once again. But that's not quite the whole of it.
A qubit is a single unit of quantum information. To continue with our simple analogy: you don't have to think about computers producing a string of information that is either a zero or a one. A quantum computer can do both, simultaneously. But that can only happen if you build a functional quantum gate.
That's why the results of the study from the folks at The Yale Quantum Institute saying that they were able to create a quantum gate with a "process fidelity" of 79% is so striking. It could very well spell the beginning of the pathway towards realistic quantum computing.
The team went about doing this through using a superconducting microwave cavity to create a data qubit — that is, they used a device that operates a bit like a organ pipe or a music box but for microwave frequencies. They paired that data qubit with a transmon — that is, a superconducting qubit that isn't as sensitive to quantum noise as it otherwise could be, which is a good thing, because noise can destroy information stored in a quantum state. The two are then connected through a process called a 'quantum bus.'
That process translates into a quantum property being able to be sent from one location to the other without any interaction between the two through something called a teleported CNOT gate, which is the 'official' name for a quantum gate. Single qubits made the leap from one side of the gate to the other with a high degree of accuracy.
Above: encoded qubits and 'CNOT Truth table,' i.e., the read-out.
The team then entangled these bits of information as a way of further proving that they were literally transporting the qubit from one place to somewhere else. They then analyzed the space between the quantum points to determine that something that doesn't follow the classical definition of physics occurred.
They conclude by noting that "... the teleported gate … uses relatively modest elements, all of which are part of the standard toolbox for quantum computation in general. Therefore ... progress to improve any of the elements will directly increase gate performance."
In other words: they did something simple and did it well. And that the only forward here is up. And down. At the same time.
These modern-day hermits can sometimes spend decades without ever leaving their apartments.
- A hikikomori is a type of person in Japan who locks themselves away in their bedrooms, sometimes for years.
- This is a relatively new phenomenon in Japan, likely due to rigid social customs and high expectations for academic and business success.
- Many believe hikikomori to be a result of how Japan interprets and handles mental health issues.
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