New Superbugs and New Defenses

In response to multiple news stories over the recent years about the invasion of superbugs, defined as those bacteria resistant to almost all forms of antibiotic therapy, I’ve written blogs HERE and HERE about the invasion of superbugs that hamper our medical professionals from effectively treating infections that were once easily eradicated with broad-spectrum antibiotics.

Subsequently, I wrote a blog about a “post antibiotic era” HERE, which indicated that few new antibiotic discoveries are happening to combat the increasing number of bacteria that develop resistance to our most reliable antibiotic therapies.

Approximately, 35,000 Americans die each year from drug resistant bacterial infections. Worldwide that number climbs to a staggering 700,000 deaths each year. According to United Nations estimates, the number of deaths from drug-resistant infections could rise to 10 million humans by 2050.

We are presently in what scientists call “an antibiotic discovery void” in which more of our common bacterial infections (UTI’s, common respiratory infections, ear and throat infections, etc,) are evolving to be resistant to currently available antibiotics. This drug resistance evolution is happening much faster than medical science can discover and bring to market new drug therapies to combat those resistant bacteria.

Over this last year, I’ve been reading about some exciting and rather innovative research into a technique called “Crispr,” which could become the next generation of our fight over drug-resistant bacteria, and possibly even those stubborn viruses—many of which are immune to drug therapy (think the common cold virus).

Scientists have discovered that, in nature, Crispr is a natural gene-editing tool in a specialized region of DNA and used by bacteria to evolve and protect itself against deadly viruses. Researchers have taken that natural Crispr tool and discovered how to alter or edit other DNA to a specific use.

By using Crispr-associated enzyme technology, scientists (at least in a laboratory environment) have been able to kill a species of Salmonella bacteria. This cutting-edge research is the beginning of a significant new way of thinking for future antibiotic therapies that can target highly specific, and highly aggressive, drug-resistant bacteria.

Although the results of this research are proving to be extremely effective in the laboratory, the next step is testing in living animals and then in human trials. We may be years away from having such treatments commonly available, but hope is on the horizon that the devastating effects of a “post antibiotic era” and the prediction of “an antibiotic discovery void” may well be a thing of the past rather than a future reality.

From an author’s perspective, however, such new research in the hands of a fictional villain could create an entirely new future for the human race—at least in a sinister thriller plot to alter the balance of world power.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

For some interesting and entertaining reading, download my two medical thriller novels in the Jon Masters Thriller Series.

Both involve Murder, Mayhem and Medicine!

 

Lethal Medicine: “When a drug study clinical trial involves more than cutting-edge research and innocent people’s lives are threatened.”

eBook or Paperback – Order Here!

 

Imperfect Murder: “When trust in our nation’s drug delivery system is shaken to its core and worldwide drug safety is threatened.”

eBook or Paperback – Order Here!

Posted in A How To Blog on Murder Plot Ideas, A Jon Masters Novel, A New Novel By James J. Murray, A New Science Thriller Novel, A Thriller Novel, About James J. Murray, About Medications/Pharmacy, About Murder, All About Writing, Antibiotic Overuse, Antibiotic Resistance, Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria, Bacteria Resistant to Antibiotic Therapy, Blog Trends, Blog Writers, Blogging, CRE Prevention, Crispr and Drug Development Technology, Crispr Technology, Crispr Technology to Fill the Antibiotic Discover Void, Curing Viral Infections, Cutting Edge Drug Therapy Research, Designing Murder Plots, Developing Story Plots, Developing Storyline Ideas, Drug Resistant Carbapenem Bacteria, Drug-Resistant Bacteria, Drugs For Murder Plots, Drugs Used For Murder, Fiction Based on Facts, Fiction Based on Real Life, Future of Drug Manufacturing, How to Choose a Murder Weapon for a Plot Idea, Imperfect Murder The Novel, Imperfect Murder Thriller Novel, Ineffective Antibiotic Therapy, Ineffective Antibiotics, James J. Murray Blog, James J. Murray's IMPERFECT MURDER Novel, James J. Murray's LETHAL MEDICINE Novel, Killing Off Characters in Your Novel, Lethal Bacteria, Lethal Medicine, Lethal Medicine Thriller Novel, Medical Technology Advances, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, New Blog, New Drug Discoveries, New Drug Manufacturing Methods, New Drug Research, New Medical Thrillers, Pharmacy/Pharmaceuticals, Plot Development, Plot Ideas and Where They Come From, Plotting The Perfect Murder, Prescription For Murder Blog, Publishing A Novel, The Antibiotic Discovery Void, The Pharmacy Profession, The Post-Antibiotic Era | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Here in the United States, it is Thanksgiving time—Thursday, November 28th to be exact.

It’s a day of fantastic food feasts, with the bonus of a long holiday weekend ahead. I hope the day is extra special for all of my US readers.

 

More importantly, it’s a time to all of us to reflect on what makes our lives so special and rewarding, and what makes us thankful when we think back on the current year and the events that have shaped our lives in the recent past.

I am especially thankful to all of my readers across the world for supporting and encouraging my work as an author.

You Continue to Inspire Me!

THANK YOU!

I wish you much success at being thankful on a daily basis for all the good things that happen in your lives and I hope the not-so-good things are minimal.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Posted in A Holiday Wish, Being Thankful, Being Thankful Every Day, Being Thankful For Your Life, Happy Thanksgiving Blog, Holiday Cheer, Thankful For Being A Writer | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Halloween—An Ancient Ritual and Modern Fun

Halloween is celebrated each year as one of our first Fall holidays, on October 31st, and this year that day happens to be tomorrow. So HAPPY HALLOWEEN everyone!

It’s the day we dress up in crazy, and even outrageously morbid, costumes and celebrate with special food and drink, and we party! Our youngsters often celebrate by going house to house yelling, “Trick or Treat” in the hopes of being given sweet treats rather than on the receiving end of a mean trick. It’s a time of pumpkin EVERYTHING these days, and I think I’ve already overdosed on all things pumpkin!

With as much of a modern fun time that Halloween is and as commercial as it has become, the holiday can be traced to an ancient and serious evolving history.

The early Celtic pagan holiday of Samhain at the end of October involved ritualistic ceremonies to ward off ghosts of the dead. The Celts celebrated in costumes made mostly of animal hides as a disguise against evil spirits of the past, and they prepared and enjoyed special feasts of autumn foods. Lanterns made out of gourds were used in these celebrations and these became the ancient version of our pumpkin lanterns. Huge bonfires were lit to ward off evil.

Halloween is distinctly tied to the religious holiday of All Saints’ Day, which in modern times is celebrated on November 1st.  Halloween, translated literally as All Hallows’ Eve, was moved from Spring in ancient times to coincide with the more religious All Saints’ Day, a day set aside to remember our deceased loved ones.

The Eastern Church in the 300’s celebrated a feast of all martyrs on May 13th as an early version of All Saints’ Day, and that date held until the seventh century. It was Pope Boniface IV who moved the feast of remembering the martyrs and deceased loved ones from May 13th to the November 1st date of our current All Saints’ Day. This was primarily to blend a pagan ritual time with a more religious one that immediately followed. Thus, All Hallows’ Eve evolved into our modern Halloween.

The mystical rituals of earlier times became our modern lighthearted night of fun and games that we now know as Halloween. The ritual of apple bobbing, that is so popular at Halloween parties, was originally a fortune-telling game on All Hallows’ Eve a couple of centuries ago. Apples would be selected to represent all of a woman’s suitors, and the guy represented by an apple that she would end up biting into would become her future husband. This Halloween ritual became a matchmaking opportunity for young women in the early 19thcentury.

Our modern Halloween has evolved into a day and night of fun and festivities in which the outrageous and ridiculous wins over anything normal and real. Fortunately, our modern Halloween rituals have little hidden meaning of actually warding off evil spirts or hint at life-altering predictions like matchmaking. Now we simply eat, drink and be merry on what was once a much more ghoulish holiday.

Have a fun and safe Halloween!

Posted in A Christmas Gift Idea, About James J. Murray, All Hallows' Eve, Almost Dead, Ancient Celtic Rituals, Ancient Halloween Rituals, Blog Writers, Blogging, Celtic Holiday Samhain, Halloween, Halloween Celebrating, History of Halloween Discussed, James J. Murray Blog, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, New Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hope on the Horizon for Pediatric Peanut Allergies

Over one million American children have a peanut allergy!

I wrote a blog a couple of years ago which indicated that researchers found that people with food allergies are increasing at a significant rate—an 18% jump between 1997 and 2007 alone, and that peanut allergies have tripled in recent years. That blog indicated several reasons for this rapid increase, but I won’t go into those specifics with this blog,

The good news, however, is that there is now a therapy to prevent this increasing threat with the recent recommendation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval of the first-ever drug to treat life-threatening peanut allergies in children.

This drug is not a cure for the allergy. Rather, the goal of this therapy is to greatly reduce the risk of accidental exposure to small amounts of peanuts and peanut-based food products that can set off a catastrophic and life-threatening anaphylactic reaction.

The new drug is an oral immunosuppressive therapy regimen that reduces sensitivity to peanut allergens over time. Gradual exposure to small amounts of peanut protein over the course of six months or so can allow a child with a severe peanut allergy to safely ingest the equivalent of two peanuts without a significant reaction.

This does not mean the child can safely eat peanuts from that point forward, but it does reduce the allergic reactions from the accidental ingestion of peanut dust from contaminated food preparation surfaces, products manufactured in plants where peanut products are also manufactured, and products containing small amounts of peanut-source ingredients.

I think some of you may remember that I am a volunteer certified running coach. This year my coaching focus has been to develop a youth running program in the non-profit running club that I am a member of.

One of the significant things we do in our registration process of our youth training program is to identify the medical/medication needs and any significant allergies of our young participants. Food allergy identification is a primary component of that screening process since we serve snacks at the end of each training session.

We have had several of our youth participate who have severe peanut allergies. We identify those kids on day one and make sure their parents provide separate snacks to prevent any possible risk of triggering a life-threatening event during group snacks and rehydration.

Such kids are the likely candidates for this drug regimen. It could possibly save the life of one of those kids if they accidentally ingested a peanut-containing product in the future.

Thoughts? Comments” I’d love to hear them!

Posted in About James J. Murray, About Medications/Pharmacy, Anaphylaxis, Blog Writers, Blogging, Children and Food Allergies, Common Food Allergies, Cutting Edge Drug Therapy Research, Deadly Food Contamination, Food Allergies on the Rise, Foods and Lethal Allergic Responses, Foods That Kill, Identifying Peanut Allergies, Increased Peanut Allergies in Kids, Increasing Food Allergies, James J. Murray Blog, Lethal Food Allergies, Medical Technology Advances, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, New Blog, New Drug Discoveries, New Drug For Treating Peanut Allergies, New Drug Research, Peanut Allergies, Pediatric Peanut Allergies, Pharmacy/Pharmaceuticals, Prescription For Murder Blog, Prescription Trends, Preventing Peanut Allergy Reactions, Screening For Peanut Allergies, Severe Food Allergies, The Pharmacy Profession, The Price of Freedom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A New 21st Century Weapon of Mass Destruction

Before the 2000’s, the world feared WMD (weapons of mass destruction) that involved nuclear technology. The threat of nuclear war, whether accidental or intentional, shaped how the military, our diplomates and alliance nations acted to protect its people and to prevent the mutual destruction of the world with a nuclear clash of superpowers.

In this century, biological weapons (although in limited use since WWI) became the new WMD with threats from Iraq and more recently Syria. World leaders scrambled to develop antidotes and anti-toxins to some of the most significant and most lethal biologicals that could somehow make it into the hands of terrorists to destroy large segments of the civilized world.

A few months ago, I wrote a blog about how as much as 80% of our prescription medications are imported from India and China, with a significant percentage of the active ingredients coming from China. I mentioned that the current trade wars could create a situation where prescription medications for US citizens would likely become more expensive with rising tariffs.

Recent news articles (Here and Here) indicate that the evolution of the United States outsourcing so much drug manufacturing to other nations over the years not only brings the possibility of price increases, but it also could create a very real crisis of prescription medication shortages if our prescription drug supply were to be held hostage as a negotiating tactic.

Just imagine if our supplies of life-saving antibiotics , for instance, (many of which are generic drugs made in Chinese manufacturing plants) were suddenly cut off. Some antibiotic products are certainly made in the United States, but a little known fact is that the last penicillin factory in the United States closed in 2004 and that manufacturing process was outsourced overseas.

China is the world’s largest exporter of vitamins and other antibiotic raw material in the modern world. China also is a key manufacturer of the active ingredients in blood pressure medications and prescription drugs for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy and depression.

Real national security risks exist with Chinese dominance of the global pharmaceutical industry. Retired Brig. Gen. John Adams told NBC News, “Basically, we’ve outsourced our entire (drug) industry to China. That is a strategic vulnerability.” Essentially, Western nations have handed an aggressive foreign government the power to hold all the cards for 21st Century WMDs over our collective heads, with the United States in a unique position to be the most vulnerable with the current trade war instabilities between the US and China.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in About James J. Murray, About Medications/Pharmacy, Affordable Prescription Drugs, Biological Weapons, Bioterrorism, Blog Writers, Blogging, Chemotherapy Supply Shortage Issues, Chinese Drug Industry, Chinese Prescription Drug Exports, Controlling Drug Costs, Developing Story Arcs, Developing Story Plots, Developing Storyline Ideas, Drug Distribution Chain, Drug Shortages in the US, Drugs and Terrorism, FDA and Drug Supply Shortages, Generic Drug Manufacturing, Generic Drug Safety, Generic Drugs in the US, Increasing Costs of US Pharmaceuticals, International Supply of Drugs, James J. Murray Blog, Made In America, Medication Cost Increases, Medication Safety Issues, Medication Shortages in the US, Modern Weapons of Mass Destruction, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, New Blog, Pharmaceutical Shortages in the US, Pharmacy/Pharmaceuticals, Prescription Drug Safety, Prescription Drug Shortages, Prescription For Murder Blog, Prescription Trends, Shortages in the US Drug Distribution Chain, The American Drug Supply, The High Cost Of Medications in the US, The Price of Freedom, Trade War Instabilities, Trade Wars, Trade Wars and Pharmaceuticals, Where Are America's Prescription Drugs Made?, Where Are Our Drugs Made, WMD | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Advances in Nanoparticle Technology!

Medical science in the 21st century is increasingly more sophisticated and growing exponentially. One of the more fascinating areas of medical research involves the evolution of nanoparticles.

Nanoparticles are (in simple terms) small objects that behave as a unit to have common properties and to perform specific jobs.They are tiny complex particles on the scale of one billionth of a meter—mere fractions of the width of a human hair.

These particles are molecular-sized entities that can be made from almost any material: metals, plastics and a multitude of hybrid materials. The most common at present are made of silicon, and 3D printing technology is advancing this technology faster than ever.

Because they are approximately the size of a biological molecule, they offer great potential for use in the human body to cure diseases, mainly because of their ability to transport substances on their surfaces or within their structures (think sponge-like configurations) into the body.

When used for medical purposes, they enter the body most often via intravenous injections. But advanced nanos that can be administered via an oral capsule and nanoemulsions that could be used for aerosolized nasal delivery are being developed.

Recently, I came across an interesting article about new research into using nanotechnology to prevent the paralysis resulting from severe spinal cord injuries.

When spinal cord injuries occur, often it’s the body’s own immune system that causes the inflammation and subsequent paralysis by squeezing and killing nerve cells. Inflammation prevents communication between neurons and produces scars that prevent nerve cells from regenerating. Thus, there is a cascade paralysis effect to areas below the injury site.

Nanoparticles, in this case, are used to bind with immune cells to prevent them from racing to the spinal injury and causing inflammation that may create a paralysis. These nanoparticles, in essence, render inflammation-causing immune cells useless and protect the spinal cord from inflammation. This allows nerve tissue to regenerate.

To this date, the process has been successful with mice and this area of research is also targeting multiple sclerosis.

As with all technological advances, the amazing cures and enhanced qualities of life that are on the forefront of nanoparticle development could have an alternate dark side. As we’re seen with powerful herbal and pharmaceutical remedies, misuse can result in lethal outcomes.

I can already imagine what poisons and toxins could be delivered into the body by nanos, and what other lethal consequences could be achieved by ill-used nanoparticles entering the body by injection, oral or nasal spray applications.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in A How To Blog on Murder Plot Ideas, A How To Blog on Murder Weapons, About James J. Murray, About Medications/Pharmacy, About Murder, All About Murder, Applications of Nanotechnology, Biological Weapons, Blog Writers, Blogging, Bloodless Death Scene Writing, Developing Storyline Ideas, Dramatic Murder Weapons, Ideas for Murder Scenes, Instruments of Death, Interesting Murder Weapons, James J. Murray Blog, Killing With Lethal Nanoparticles, Medical Uses of Nanotechnology, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, Murder Weapons, Nanoparticle Technology, Nanoparticle Technology in Medicine, Nanoparticles for Medical Cures, Nanoparticles in Medicine, Nanoparticles To Cure And Kill, Nanotechnology Used For Murder, New Blog, New Methods of Murder, New Methods To Kill Characters in Your Novel, Plotting Interesting Murder Scenes, Prescription For Murder Blog, The Science of Murder, Tools of Murder, Unique Murder Plots, Unique Murder Weapons | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dead Man’s Fingers Fungus

I’ll bet you’re thinking this blog is about a disease, and maybe a “yucky” one at that. Nope . . . not even close! This is all about another type of fungus—mushrooms.

Mushrooms are a culinary delight, including such wonderful treats as morel mushrooms and truffles. Even the more common, and much less expensive, varieties are welcome additions to many recipes.

Care must be taken, however, to stay away from some of the deadly varieties, such as those I wrote about in a previous blog. Some varieties can be used, and are often abused, for their hallucinogenic effects. I’ve described those in another blog.

There is a most interesting variety of mushroom that reeks of death. However, it’s not deadly to humans. It’s commonly called “Dead Man’s Fingers.” The technical name for this fungus is Xylaria polymorpha.

Although this fungus can resemble the fingers of a corpse reaching out from the earth, it’s not a zombie clawing its way out of a grave. It does have deadly properties, however, only not to humans. Dead Man’s Fingers are fungi growing out of decaying wood—stumps or logs of dead, buried trees—that continue the decay process to rot wood.

In fact, this attribute has several beneficial purposes. The Dead Man’s Fingers fungi are nature’s sanitation to rid forests of dead tree wood. These fungi are also used to increase the acoustic ability of woods used to make violins. Raw violin wood is inoculated with the Xylaria fungi to cause a certain degree of wood decay, thereby decreasing the wood’s density. After a time, the fungus is killed with ethylene oxide to prevent further wood rot and this creates the beautiful sounds of a violin.

Although this fungus is indigenous to the regions of Nepal, Bhutan and Northeastern India, it can be seen in the United States where it attacks apple, maple, beech and elm trees as well as a variety of ornamental shrubs to destroy home landscapes.

The colors of these interesting fungi vary from white to blue to black at different stages in their life cycle. When young, they are pale in color, almost white, and they vary from that whitish color to a pale blue as they grow. When this variety of mushroom continues to age, the bluish color deepens all the way to black before the fungus dries out and dies.

In China, younger blue fungi are often cooked and eaten; but, as the fungi age, they are considered not edible because they become hard to digest. At that point, most Dead Man’s Finger Fungi are used as decorations or garnish, instead.

I don’t consider this fungus lethal in any way to humans, but it can make for an interesting plot twist if used in a setting where it might appear that human remains are reaching out from the grave. I’ll have to figure out a way to use this in one of my storylines. What about you?

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in A How To Blog on Murder Plot Ideas, A How To Blog on Murder Weapons, About Interesting Mushrooms, About James J. Murray, About Medications/Pharmacy, All About Mushrooms, Blog Writers, Blogging, Bloodless Death Scene Writing, Blue Fungi, Botanical Murder Weapons, Botanicals That Kill, Dead Man's Finger Fungi, Dead Man's Fingers, Deadly Fungal Attacks, Deadly Mushrooms, Developing Storyline Ideas, Dramatic Murder Weapons, Fungi and Violin Wood, Hallucinogenic Drugs, Ideas for Murder Scenes, Interesting Event and Ideas Develop into Short Stories, James J. Murray Blog, Killing With Poisonous Plants, Lethal Botanicals, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, Mushrooms That Kill Trees, Mushrooms That Rot Wood, New Blog, Plant Poisons, Plants That Kill, Plants Used For Murder, Poisonous Plants, Prescription For Murder Blog, Unique Lethal Compounds, Unique Murder Plots, Writing Death Scenes, Writing Dramatic Murder Scenes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments