Net positive outcomes for nature offer a new approach to preserve biodiversity

Wilderness: image from Pexels

A group of international conservationists is urging governments across the globe to adopt a new approach to address the impact of economic development on the natural world.

Renowned researchers, including University of Queensland scientists, aim to draw attention to what they call “net positive outcomes for nature”.

Professor James Watson, of UQ and the Wildlife Conservation Society, said the new approach rejected the idea that biodiversity loss was an inevitable consequence of economic development.

“This new net positive approach is underpinned by the concept of a conservation hierarchy, which provides a framework for structuring biodiversity conservation actions based on how they contribute to worldwide conservation,” he said.

“We’re calling for more ambitious, proactive measures to ensure greater benefits to the natural environment are achieved in concert with development activities.

“Conservation actions should be based on how they contribute to our shared overall vision for the natural world, rather than piecemeal actions to protect species or habitats.

“We need policymakers to seriously and urgently prioritize the reduction of development impacts as they happen, retain and restore habitats proactively, and enhance the prospects for nature everywhere.”

The framework would allow the whole range of conservation efforts to be tracked at a global level, whether they are implemented by national governments, indigenous groups, businesses or private individuals.

“This allows for more consistent, comprehensive and informative evaluation of the progress we are collectively making toward restoring nature,” Professor Watson said.

“Our approach is much more ambitious than current policy commitments, which typically relate only to location-specific impacts, particular species trends or certain sectors of the economy.

“It outlines how the global community can move to a position in which economic development activities would be integrated with, rather than in opposition to, positive biodiversity outcomes.”

The conservationists are calling for a shift in the language and approach to global conservation policy discussions in advance of next year’s UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which will be held in China and will set the strategic plan for biodiversity for the next decade and to 2050.

“It’s obvious that nature is running out of time, and nations have one last chance to get a bold target in place to halt the declines and extinctions that are now commonplace across the world,” Professor Watson said.

“A headline goal that calls for a net gain for nature, will make it possible for governments and industry to work hand in hand to avert biodiversity crisis.”

Learn more: Leading conservation scientists call for reverse to biodiversity loss with ‘net positive’ goals

 

The Latest on: Net positive outcomes for nature

via Google News

 

The Latest on: Net positive outcomes for nature

via  Bing News

 

Expanding the microbiomes of koalas so they can eat a wider range of eucalypts to survive

Dakar the young male koala that received a faecal transplant from wild koalas feeding on messmate. in his enclosure at the Conservation Ecology Centre, Cape Otway. Credit: Michaela Blyton.

Poo transplants are helping expand koala microbiomes, allowing the marsupials to eat a wider range of eucalypts and possibly survive habitat loss.

A study featuring a University of Queensland researcher, built on extensive research conducted at Western Sydney University, has analysed and altered microbes in koalas’ guts, finding that a faecal transplant may influence what species of eucalypt koalas can feed on.

UQ School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences Dr Michaela Blyton was inspired to conduct the research after a devastating drop in the koala population on Cape Otway in Victoria.

“In 2013 the koala population reached very high densities, leading them to defoliate their preferred food tree species, manna gum,” Dr Blyton said.

“This led to 70 per cent mortality due to starvation, which was very distressing.

“What was interesting was that even though the koalas were starving, they generally didn’t start feeding on a less preferred tree species, messmate, despite the fact that some koalas feed exclusively on messmate.

“This led me and colleague Dr Ben Moore at Western Sydney University to wonder if the microbes present in koalas’ guts – their microbiomes – were limiting which species they could eat, and if we could allow them to expand their diet with faecal inoculations.”

The team caught wild koalas that only ate manna gum and kept them in temporary captivity at the Cape Otway Conservation Ecology Centre.

“We collected poo from radio-collared wild koalas that ate messmate, concentrated the microorganisms in the poo, packaged it into acid-resistant capsules and gave them to the captive koalas,” Dr Blyton said.

“We then monitored how much messmate the koalas were willing to eat over an 18-day period and assessed how the microbiomes changed after the inoculations, comparing their diets to those of control koalas that received manna gum microbes.”

The researchers found that the faecal inoculations changed the koalas’ microbiomes, allowing them to eat messmate.

“This could affect all aspects of their ecology including nutrition, habitat selection and resource use,” Dr Blyton said.

“Koalas may naturally have trouble adapting to new diets when their usual food trees become over browsed or after being moved to a new location.

“This study provides a proof of concept for the use of encapsulated faecal material to successfully introduce and establish new microbes in koalas’ guts.

“In future, capsules could be used to adjust koalas’ microbiomes prior to moving them to safer or more abundant environments, and as probiotics during and after antibiotic treatment.”

Learn more: Poo transplants to help save koalas

 

The Latest on: Faecal transplant

via Google News

 

The Latest on: Faecal transplant

via  Bing News

 

How’s this for a powerful new antibiotic: Cannabidiol?

via LabRoots

New research has found that Cannnabidiol is active against Gram-positive bacteria, including those responsible for many serious infections (such as Staphyloccocus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae), with potency similar to that of established antibiotics such as vancomycin or daptomycin.

The research is presented at ASM Microbe, the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

Cannabidiol, the main non-psychoactive chemical compound extracted from cannabis and hemp plants, has been approved by FDA for the treatment of a form of epilepsy, and is being investigated for a number of other medical conditions, including, anxiety, pain and inflammation. While there is limited data to suggest Cannabidiol can kill bacteria, the drug has not been thoroughly investigated for its potential as an antibiotic.

Work led by Dr Mark Blaskovich at The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience’s Centre for Superbug Solutions, in collaboration with Botanix Pharmaceuticals Ltd, an early stage drug discovery company investigating topical uses of synthetic cannabidiol for a range of skin conditions, found that Cannabidiol was remarkably effective at killing a wide range of Gram-positive bacteria, including bacteria that have become resistant to other antibiotics, and did not lose effectiveness after extended treatment.

“Given cannabidiol’s documented anti-inflammatory effects, existing safety data in humans, and potential for varied delivery routes, it is a promising new antibiotic worth further investigation,” said Dr. Blaskovich. “The combination of inherent antimicrobial activity and potential to reduce damage caused by the inflammatory response to infections is particularly attractive.”

Importantly, the drug retained its activity against bacteria that have become highly resistant to other common antibiotics. Under extended exposure conditions that lead to resistance against vancomycin or daptomycin, Cannabidiol did not lose effectiveness. Cannabidiol was also effective at disrupting biofilms, a physical form of bacteria growth that leads to difficult-to-treat infections.

The project was co-funded by Botanix and Innovation Connections, an Australian government grant scheme to commercialize new products, processes and services. The paper will be presented on Sunday June 23rd from 11am-1 pm at the annual conference of the American Society for Microbiology, ASM Microbe 2019, at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.

Learn more: Cannabidiol is a Powerful New Antibiotic

 

The Latest on: Cannnabidiol

via Google News

 

The Latest on: Cannnabidiol

via  Bing News

 

A common bacterium called Wolbachia could block replication of viruses and break the cycle of mosquito-borne disease

Wolbachia bacteria (stained red) inside mosquito cells (with nuclei stained blue) IMAGE: CASSANDRA KOH / MONASH UNIVERSITY

Viruses, spread through mosquito bites, cause human illnesses such as dengue fever, Zika and yellow fever. A new control technique harnesses a naturally occurring bacterium called Wolbachia that blocks replication of viruses and breaks the cycle of mosquito-borne disease, according to an international team of researchers.

“Wolbachia is present in around 50 percent of all insects,” said Beth McGraw, professor and Huck Scholar in Entomology at Penn State, who did this research while at Monash University. “Interestingly it is not present in some of the major mosquito vectors (insects that transmit pathogens). After researchers put Wolbachia into mosquitoes, they found that, quite excitingly, Wolbachia effectively vaccinates mosquitoes, preventing viruses from replicating.”

Spread by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, dengue virus affects millions of people each year. Symptoms include fever, body aches and nausea, although a more severe version, known as dengue hemorrhagic fever, can be fatal.

In the tropics and subtropics where Ae. aegypti resides, several large releases of Wolbachia are underway to test whether Wolbachia can reduce the incidence of human disease.

In a paper published recently in Virus Evolution, McGraw and her team report that dengue virus failed to evolve resistance to Wolbachia in controlled lab-based experiments. These findings show promise for the long-term efficacy of Wolbachia following field release.

“I am continually surprised by Wolbachia,” said McGraw. “I thought we would get dengue variants that would evolve resistance. Wolbachia is doing a better job than I expected at controlling virus replication in cells.”

The researchers took dengue virus and infected mosquito cells that either had Wolbachia or were free of bacteria. After five days, they collected the viruses that had been released from the cells and used them to infect fresh cells.

“Dengue takes over the machinery of the host cells, makes lots of copies of itself, and then it buds or burst out of the cell,” explained McGraw.

After nine rounds of passaging the virus through mosquito cells, the team found that the amount of virus released was stable in the Wolbachia-free cells. However, in the presence of Wolbachia, virus levels crashed — and in some cases, disappeared completely.

Dengue viruses grown with Wolbachia were also less effective at infecting mosquito cells and had reduced ability to replicate, compared to viruses grown without the bacterium.

Although this is good news for the control of dengue and other mosquito-transmitted diseases, the researchers note the study has limitations. The researchers used mosquito cells — which may not reflect what happens within the whole insect. And outside the lab, where mosquito populations are much larger, there may be more opportunities for the virus to develop resistance to Wolbachia.

“I think our study suggests that the evolution of resistance to Wolbachia in the virus is challenging,” said McGraw. “I don’t think it’s a guarantee that the virus is not going to evolve under field conditions because the natural system is much more complex. The real experiment is being done in the field right now, because Wolbachia has been released into communities in Australia, Indonesia and Brazil, among others. Monitoring in release areas will be needed to test for the emergence of resistance in the virus.”

Other control methods for dengue have largely been unsuccessful. Because Ae. aegypti is active during the day, bed nets are ineffective at reducing mosquito bites. Spraying of insecticides to control the mosquito and removing standing-water breeding sites have also been difficult to implement in urban environments where the mosquito thrives.

Wolbachia is an attractive control option because it blocks the replication of many disease-causing viruses. It is also self-spreading because of a curious effect, where Wolbachia-containing male mosquitoes cannot reproduce successfully with Wolbachia-free females. According to McGraw, this means that these males prevent Wolbachia-free females from reproducing. Because the bacterium is transmitted from mother to offspring, each generation has successively more mosquitoes containing Wolbachia.

Researchers are still unsure exactly how Wolbachia reduces virus replication in the mosquito.

“We think it might have to do with competition between Wolbachia and the virus for physical space (inside the cell) or for nutrition they both need from the mosquito,” said McGraw. “Or it could be that Wolbachia is increasing the immune capacity of the mosquito. There are a whole range of theories, none of which are entirely satisfying.”

Learn more: Combating mosquito-borne diseases with bacteria

 

The Latest on: Wolbachia

via Google News

 

The Latest on: Wolbachia

via  Bing News

 

Drug delivery inside the human body using “submarines” that don’t need external stimulus

An artist’s representation of ‘micro-submarines’ transporting their medical cargo through capillaries among red blood cells. Picture: UNSW

UNSW engineers have shown that micro-submarines powered by nano-motors could navigate the human body to provide targeted drug delivery to diseased organs without the need for external stimulus.

Cancers in the human body may one day be treated by tiny, self-propelled ‘micro-submarines’ delivering medicine to affected organs after UNSW Sydney chemical and biomedical engineers proved it was possible.

In a paper published in Materials Today, the engineers explain how they developed micrometre-sized submarines that exploit biological environments to tune their buoyancy, enabling them to carry drugs to specific locations in the body.

Corresponding author Dr Kang Liang, with both the School of Biomedical Engineering and School of Chemical Engineering at UNSW, says the knowledge can be used to design next generation ‘micro-motors’ or nano-drug delivery vehicles, by applying novel driving forces to reach specific targets in the body.

“We already know that micro-motors use different external driving forces – such as light, heat or magnetic field – to actively navigate to a specific location,” Dr Liang says.

“In this research, we designed micro-motors that no longer rely on external manipulation to navigate to a specific location. Instead, they take advantage of variations in biological environments to automatically navigate themselves.”

What makes these micro-sized particles unique is that they respond to changes in biological pH environments to self-adjust their buoyancy. In the same way that submarines use oxygen or water to flood ballast points to make them more or less buoyant, gas bubbles released or retained by the micro-motors due to the pH conditions in human cells contribute to these nanoparticles moving up or down.

This is significant not just for medical applications, but for micro-motors generally.

“Most micro-motors travel in a 2-dimensional fashion,” Dr Liang says.

“But in this work, we designed a vertical direction mechanism. We combined these two concepts to come up with a design of autonomous micro-motors that move in a 3D fashion. This will enable their ultimate use as smart drug delivery vehicles in the future.”

Dr Liang illustrates a possible scenario where drugs are taken orally to treat a cancer in the stomach or intestines. To give an idea of scale, he says each capsule of medicine could contain millions of micro-submarines, and within each micro-submarine would be millions of drug molecules.

“Imagine you swallow a capsule to target a cancer in the gastrointestinal tract,” he says.

“Once in the gastrointestinal fluid, the micro-submarines carrying the medicine could be released. Within the fluid, they could travel to the upper or bottom region depending on the orientation of the patient.

“The drug-loaded particles can then be internalised by the cells at the site of the cancer. Once inside the cells, they will be degraded causing the release of the drugs to fight the cancer in a very targeted and efficient way.”

For the micro-submarines to find their target, a patient would need to be oriented in such a way that the cancer or ailment being treated is either up or down – in other words, a patient would be either upright or lying down.

Dr Liang says the so-called micro-submarines are essentially composite metal-organic frameworks (MOF)-based micro-motor systems containing a bioactive enzyme (catalase, CAT) as the engine for gas bubble generation. He stresses that he and his colleagues’ research is at the proof-of-concept stage, with years of testing needing to be completed before this could become a reality.

Dr Liang says the research team – comprised of engineers from UNSW, University of Queensland, Stanford University and University of Cambridge – will be also looking outside of medical applications for these new multi-directional nano-motors.

“We are planning to apply this new finding to other types of nanoparticles to prove the versatility of this technique,” he says.

Learn more: ‘Submarines’ small enough to deliver medicine inside human body

 

The Latest on: Micro-submarines

via Google News

 

The Latest on: Micro-submarines
  • Using Micro-Submarines to Deliver Treatment
    on July 17, 2019 at 7:55 am

    Within each pill lies a million micro-submarines filled with drug molecules. Once the pills hit the gastrointestinal fluid, the submarines are released and are then free to navigate to the area of the ...

  • Micro-submarines may one day deliver medications inside the body
    on May 29, 2019 at 5:31 am

    Engineers at UNSW have shown that it is possible to deliver medications directly to affected organs using tiny, self-propelled micro-submarines. The researchers have developed micrometer-sized ...

  • Self-powered micro-submarines sink and swim to deliver drugs in the body
    on May 28, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    When the pH level rises, these bubbles are released and the sub sinks again. This mechanism allows for 3D movement, the team says, which could help steer the micro-submarines to the more acidic cancer ...

  • Micro-Submarines Could Deliver Medicine in the Body Without Surgery
    on May 28, 2019 at 11:03 am

    Engineers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia have developed micro-submarines powered by nano-motors that can navigate through the human body to deliver medicine to diseased ...

  • 'Submarines' small enough to deliver medicine inside human body
    on May 28, 2019 at 4:59 am

    UNSW engineers have shown that micro-submarines powered by nano-motors could navigate the human body to provide targeted drug delivery to diseased organs without the need for external stimulus.

  • Project 09774 Yankee Stretch class
    on October 25, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    After the signing of the SALT I treaty and the resulting arms reductions, it was decided to renovate the ship to support micro submarines. The submarine was supplied to MP "Asterisk» in October 1983, ...

  • Robot Called 'Yeti' Finds Cracks in Antarctic Ice
    on March 5, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Researchers are also peering at buried glacial lakes with micro-submarines or mapping the seafloor with remotely operated vehicles. Earlier robotic explorers include the spiderlike Dante, sent into ...

  • Researchers use graphene to draw energy from flowing water, self-powered micro-robots to follow?
    on July 21, 2011 at 3:53 am

    Of course, that doesn't have a whole lot of practical application for your average gadget consumer, but Koraktar sees a future filled with tiny water-powered robots and micro-submarines -- we can dig ...

  • India Seeks 6 Subs, $11B
    on July 13, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    The Indian navy is also planning to build micro-submarines for its strategic operations. An RFP was issued in Nov 2009 to Indian shipyards including Hindustan Shipyards Limited, ABG and Pipavav ...

  • Iran says missile test a success
    on December 6, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Qasem Rostamabadi. The Iranian navy reportedly has developed stealth micro submarines to patrol its coastal waters and has one of the largest ballistic missile forces in the developing world, RIA ...

via  Bing News