DAILY DOSE: Gonorrhea is becoming impossible to treat; Lunar New Year greetings beamed down from space.


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Gonorrhea is becoming impossible to treat thanks to rising rates of antibiotic resistant strains. Per Ars Technica,

The most highly drug-resistant cases of gonorrhea detected in the US to date appeared in two unrelated people in Massachusetts, state health officials announced Thursday.

The cases mark the first time that US isolates of the gonorrhea-causing bacterium, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, have shown complete resistance or reduced susceptibility to all drugs that are recommended for treatment.

Fortunately, both cases were successfully cured with potent injections of the antibiotic ceftriaxone, despite the bacterial isolates demonstrating reduced susceptibility to the drug. Ceftriaxone is currently the frontline recommended treatment for the sexually transmitted infection.

But health officials said the cases are a warning. "N. gonorrhoeae is becoming less responsive to a limited arsenal of antibiotics," they said.

It’s time for a new approach to antibacterial R&D. http://bit.ly/3JaLumi

Getting cancer as a result of your work is nobody’s idea of a dream job. Maybe the only thing that can make it worse is getting while employed by the government. But that may have been what happened in the United States. Per the Associated Press,

“Nine military officers who had worked decades ago at a nuclear missile base in Montana have been diagnosed with blood cancer and there are “indications” the disease may be linked to their service, according to military briefing slides obtained by The Associated Press. One of the officers has died.

All of the officers, known as missileers, were assigned as many as 25 years ago to Malmstrom Air Force Base, home to a vast field of 150 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile silos. The nine officers were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, according to a January briefing by U.S. Space Force Lt. Col. Daniel Sebeck.

Missileers ride caged elevators deep underground into a small operations bunker encased in a thick wall of concrete and steel. They remain there sometimes for days, ready to turn the launch keys if ordered to by the president.

“There are indications of a possible association between cancer and missile combat crew service at Malmstrom AFB,” Sebeck said in slides presented to his Space Force unit this month. The “disproportionate number of missileers presenting with cancer, specifically lymphoma” was concerning, he said.

This is not the first time the military has been alerted to multiple cancer cases at the base. In 2001 the base was investigated after 14 cancers of various types were reported among missileers who had served there, including two cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. http://bit.ly/3XxUJkL

Consumer-ready lab grown meat is creeping towards reality. Per Reuters,

Once the stuff of science fiction, lab-grown meat could become reality in some restaurants in the United States as early as this year.

Executives at cultivated meat companies are optimistic that meat grown in massive steel vats could be on the menu within months after one company won the go-ahead from a key regulator. In a show of confidence, some of them have signed up high-end chefs like Argentine Francis Mallmann and Spaniard José Andrés to eventually showcase the meats in their high-end eateries.

But to reach its ultimate destination - supermarket shelves - cultivated meat faces big obstacles, five executives told Reuters. Companies must attract more funding to increase production, which would enable them to offer their beef steaks and chicken breasts at a more affordable price. Along the way, they must overcome a reluctance among some consumers to even try lab-grown meat.

Cultivated meat is derived from a small sample of cells collected from livestock, which is then fed nutrients, grown in enormous steel vessels called bioreactors, and processed into something that looks and tastes like a real cut of meat.

Scaling the meat-producing process was always going to be a problem, economically and energetically. http://bit.ly/3wrfL8V

While we’re on the subject of food, an article in The Guardian examined the shrinking number of foods that we eat on a regular basis. A lot of it has to do with the increasingly limited number of ingredients available to consumers. According to the article, 

Hang on, you might think. There is more choice on our shelves than there has ever been. Breakfast cereal alone is dizzying in its variety. How can there be a diversity problem in food, when Sainsbury’s has 84 different sausage products? That’s the paradoxical thing, says food historian Polly Russell. “It appears that we have incredible choice and variety – more than perhaps at any other time – and it is true that the number of products available to the individual consumer has gone up. But the diversity of crops worldwide has gone down. The vast majority of those products you see in the supermarket will have been made with a very limited number of ingredients, like wheat, maize, palm oil and soy.”

The data is jaw-dropping. Of the 6,000 plant species humans have eaten over time, the world now mostly grows and consumes only nine, of which just three – rice, wheat and maize – provide about 50% of all calories humans consume. Add potato, barley, palm oil, soy and sugar to the mix, and you have 75% of all the calories. But diversity within these crops is also disappearing, as we rely on an ever-smaller number of high-yielding varieties.

“Control of the world’s seed production is in the hands of just four corporations,” says Saladino. “More than half the world’s cheese is made with enzymes and starter cultures from the same Danish company.” That “diversity” you see in the dairy, cereal and even fruit and vegetable aisles is an illusion.

Depressing, isn’t it? http://bit.ly/3HrGLvq

Astronauts stationed on China’s orbiting space station spread some Lunar New Year cheer from far away. Per CGTN,

The Shenzhou-15 astronauts Fei Junlong, Deng Qingming and Zhang Lu sent their Spring Festival greetings from China Space Station in a video released by the China Manned Space Agency on New Year's Eve.

The trio, dressed in blue jumpsuits with dark red patterns, each held a sticker showing their own calligraphy. Two of the stickers were written with the Chinese character "fu," meaning good luck, and the other had good luck wishes from Tiangong.

"Wearing new clothes, eating dumplings and sending blessings – the festive customs and atmosphere are the same here," said Zhang. 

The astronauts have decorated the orbiting space station, about 400 kilometers above Earth, with red couplets and Chinese knots.

Gong hei fat choy! http://bit.ly/3QX1iLj

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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