{{ 'Go back' | translate}}
Njus logo

Research and Science news | Njus Australia

Bacterial defence construction revealed in step forward for new antibiotics

Research and Science GetSTEM

A crucial step in the way bacteria construct their defences has been revealed by an international team, including a University of Queensland researcher.
'A crucial step in the way bacteria construct their defences has been revealed by an international team, including a University of Queensland researcher.Institute for Molecular Bioscience’s researcher Professor Ian Henderson said the finding had opened up a new pathway for designing improved antibiotics. “There has been a 300 per cent increase in people dying from infections in Australia since the mid-1980s, when antimicrobial resistance started to emerge,” Professor Henderson said. “If you plot out the upward trajectory until 2060, we will be back at the number of deaths we had prior to the introduction of antibiotics, when half of all people died from infectious disease. “New ways of combating diseases caused by bacterial infection are thus urgently needed.” Professor Henderson said the most problematic antibiotic-resistant infections are caused by bacteria that belong to a class called Gram-negative, which have two membranes. “Imagine a castle with an inner keep and an outer wall, with the outer wall or membrane protecting the bacteria from antibiotics,” he said. “We’re interested in how Gram-negative bacteria build this outer membrane, because if we understand that, we can disable the membrane so antibiotics can get through and combat the infection.” Professor Henderson said the outer membrane was made up of three components – proteins, lipids and a type of sugar molecule.Previous research uncovered how proteins and sugar molecules were produced in the cell and transported to the outer membrane, but until now, no one knew how the lipids were moved. “We knew how these lipids were manufactured but not how they were transported through the cell to take their place in the outer membrane,” Professor Henderson said. “We have now discovered the cellular machinery responsible for exporting lipids to the outer membrane.” Professor Henderson said previous work from his team had shown that mutating the genes involved in lipid transport renders bacteria unable to cause disease. “Now that we understand how the lipid transport machinery functions, it opens up a new pathway for us to design medicines that can prevent the outer membrane from being fully constructed, allowing us to fight back against infectious bacteria.” The international team was led by Dr Tim Knowles at the University of Birmingham.Professor Henderson is speaking at ‘Can we keep the next pandemic at bay?’ a UQ Global Leadership Series talk on July 18 2019.The research study was published in Nature Microbiology and supported by organisations including the Wellcome Trust.Source: UQ . The post Bacterial defence construction revealed in step forward for new antibiotics appeared first on GetSTEM .'

Explosive Four Corners program reveals Australian links to China’s ‘re-education’ camps

Research and Science Campus Review

The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Curtin University are reviewing their research funding and approval procedures over concerns research linked to the universities is being used to help detect and detain ethnic minorities in Xinjiang,
'The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Curtin University are reviewing their research funding and approval procedures over concerns research linked to the universities is being used to help detect and detain ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, China. Human Rights Watch alleges artificial intelligence and surveillance technologies are being used by the Chinese government to identify and detain Uyghurs and other minority Muslim groups in so-called “re-education camps” in the region. The scale of detainment is so large that has been linked to the Holocaust. It was revealed on last night’s Four Corners program that UTS began a review into its $10 million partnership with Chinese military tech company CETC in April. The company has developed an app that Chinese security forces are allegedly using to track and detain Muslim minority groups in the region. The university signed the deal with CETC in 2017 to create a research centre, which included work on AI and surveillance technologies. Director of Human Rights Watch Elaine Person said she welcomed UTS’s internal review. “I think no Australian university wants to be collaborating with a Chinese company that is basically building these tools of repression in China,” she said. “This is an app that has been designed to gather basic information about Uyghurs and other Muslims. We know that people have been sent to political re-education camps on the basis of information collected through this application.” While UTS is confident there is no link between the CETC app and research conducted at its centre, it is “deeply concerned” by the alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang and said its internal review would be available within weeks. “UTS at this stage has no plans for new work with CETC and will assess the current contractual agreements in light of the review,” the university said. Perth’s Curtin University is also reviewing its research approval procedures after an associate professor’s work was revealed in the Four Corners program. Associate Professor Liu Wan-Quan has been conducting Chinese government-backed research into how the faces of Uyghur people could be better detected through facial scanning – what other experts have labelled “racial profiling”. In a statement Curtin said Associate Professor Liu was solely focussed on “technical advice to the Chinese research team” and the university “unequivocally condemns the use of artificial intelligence, including facial recognition technology, for any form of ethnic profiling to negatively impact and/or persecute any person or group”. Human Rights Watch is calling on all Australian universities to review their research ties with Chinese government institutions in the fields of AI and surveillance. “It’s no secret that China is using facial recognition tools to racially profile Uyghurs and we know what happens as a consequence of that racial profiling,” Human Rights Watch’s Elaine Pearson said. “I think there are real questions about how those projects were allowed to proceed. “I think this should cause a rethink for all Australian institutions, companies, organisations, that are collaborating with Chinese state institutions.” Associate Professor James Leibold from La Trobe University is an expert in ethnic minority groups in China and is urging Australian universities to sever any links they have with the Chinese Communist Party. “Essentially by doing that, we’re being complicit in the human rights abuses that are occurring in Xinjiang and in China more widely,” he said in the Four Corners’ program. “I think the UTS and other universities here in Australia that have connections with any party state company, particularly in the military or security sector, needs to end those contracts, and to pull out of those collaborative arrangements.”'