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Genes & Cells

Traditional medicine helps give the slip to bacteria, plus insulin insensitivity and dental plaque in this week's news

10:32am, April 1, 2011

Traditional medicine makes nonstick bacteria
A common ingredient in Chinese anti-inflammatory medications can keep certain bacteria from glomming onto silicon rubber and many plastic surfaces. The chemical, called PGG, puts a stop to the formation of gooey bacterial colonies called biofilms, a team of researchers in Taiwan reports in the March Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.  In fact, low concentrations of this traditional medication can block 93 percent of biofilm construction. Like Silly Putty, these porridgy colonies fasten to an array of surfaces in hospitals, spreading infections among patients. PGG, which is taken from geraniums, could make a good antimicrobial coating for catheters and other medical devices. —Daniel Strain

MicroRNA breeds insulin insensitivity
A genetic molecule called microRNA-143 is responsible for insulin insensitivity in mice, and probably in humans with type 2

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