Future Microbiology: best of 2017

Welcome to Future Microbiology’s top picks from 2017. Here we review five of your favorite and most-read content from last year, give you access to the articles and provide an update from the authors on how their work is progressing. Can mobile phones be used as a diagnostic tool for infectious diseases in the clinic? Can we rely on the last resort antibiotic daptomycin for the treatment of Gram-positive infections? These are just some of the captivating questions that these articles answer.

We will start things off with Future Microbiology’s top read article from 2017, a short opinion piece entitled ‘How can the gut microbiota affect immune recovery in HIV-infected individuals?’. This editorial outlines the current advances in untangling the host–microbiota interactions influencing immune recovery during HIV infection. The article describes how novel OMICS’ techniques have allowed us to determine the distinct microbiota harbored by HIV-infected individuals and their active role in disease progression.

Another article that proved very popular with the readers of Future Microbiology was an intriguing editorial piece entitled ‘Mobile phones create new opportunities for microbiology research and clinical applications’. We caught up with the lead author, Aydogan Ozcan, a chancellor’s Professor at UCLA (CA, USA), who summarized the article nicely: “The paper presents the importance of mobile phone-based measurement tools for research and clinical use. It also highlights the capabilities of these tools, especially for applications in resource-limited settings, with examples from the literature and commercially available products.”

As a follow-up on this paper, the authors are now “working on machine learning based computational methods to enhance the quality of the images acquired using smartphone-based microscopes”. The most promising of these are their works with deep learning based data-driven image reconstruction and transformation methods.

The top read research article of 2017 was an international collaboration that demonstrated the cost-effectiveness of a new antifungal drug, isavuconazole (ISAV), when compared with standard mucormycosis therapy treatments in the UK. The authors from Covance Inc (London, UK) conducted a matched case-control analysis comparing amphotericin B and the new licensed drug, ISAV.

A review article that generated a lot of interest was a piece was entitled ‘Cutaneous wound biofilm and the potential for electrical stimulation in management of the microbiome’. The lead author, Ardeshir Bayat from the University of Manchester (UK), discussed the importance behind the paper: “With growing antibiotic resistance, new approaches are urgently required in the management of cutaneous wound infections and current evidence suggests that electrical stimulation (ES) is a successful non-pharmacological antimicrobial treatment.”

“However, there is a lack of high-quality in vivo data and with culture-independent sequencing techniques revolutionizing our understanding of the skin microbiome, there are no studies investigating the ability of ES to alter the microbiome.”

This paper summarizes the current evidence supporting the antimicrobial effects of electrical stimulation and highlights the potential it may have in the field of wound microbiology. Bayat highlights that “there is a disconnect between cutaneous wound infections, biofilms, microbiome and ES and this paper proposes a direction of future study in the field.”

Bayat also highlighted the importance of future studies “combining the fields of ES, biofilm and microbiome research are necessary and an exciting prospect to fully elucidate the use of ES in the management of cutaneous wounds. Of particular interest would be to investigate the dynamic change of the wound microbiome with electrical stimulation treatment in chronic wounds.

Our final paper in the collection is a review article entitled ‘Daptomycin: new insights into an antibiotic of last resort’. The lead author Andrew Edwards from the Centre for Molecular Bacteriology and Infection at Imperial College London (UK) explains: “Daptomycin is an antibiotic of last resort for serious infections caused by Gram-positive pathogens. This paper describes our current understanding of the mechanism by which this antibiotic functions and the ways in which pathogens can resist daptomycin”. It also identifies key knowledge gaps and highlights potential therapeutic approaches to improve daptomycin efficacy.

When we spoke to Edwards he told us about the research his group are currently working on: “We are currently examining the mechanisms by which Gram-positive pathogens can survive exposure to daptomycin, including the release of phospholipid decoys [1,2]. We are also examining whether we can increase the efficacy of daptomycin by using it in combination with other antibiotics.”

And that is it for Future Microbiology’s top picks of 2017! All of the five nominated articles are free to read for ID Hub members, so if you are interested in any of topics mentioned above, please log in or register and click through to read the full articles below.

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