Antibiotic resistance is a well-known menace: Witness the dangers of hospital-acquired MRSA infections, or the totally drug-resistant tuberculosis found in India earlier this year. FDA statistics show that over 80 percent of antibiotics used in the US are given to livestock, and heavy animal use is thought to be one of the drivers of resistance among human pathogens. So it behooves veterinarians and public health officials alike to stamp out antibiotic resistance in animals.
In the hunt for how this resistance develops, though, scientists have been mostly looking at bacteria inside the digestive system. But it turns out they might have, er, the wrong end of things—a new study finds that drugs excreted in pee and feces may be even more worrisome than those circulating in the bloodstream.
A simple urine test is being developed that would revolutionize the treatment of prostate cancer by differentiating between the benign and aggressive forms of the disease.
While prostate cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in men, the real challenge for treatment tends to lie in measuring the progress of the disease. A person can live a long time with benign prostate cancer, but the aggressive kind of tumor grows much more quickly and requires urgent treatment. The current method for distinguishing between the two can involve several rounds of testing, including an invasive and painful biopsy.
The urine test, which will not be ready for at least another three to five years, would be an easy and inexpensive way to determine which type of cancer is present, researchers report in Nature [subscription required]. Research for the test began when doctors found that men with an aggressive form of prostate cancer carry elevated levels of a particular molecule in their urine [The Guardian].