Hello alls,

In under a week we will be running session #2 of #microtwjc for the 2015 academic year. The paper I (@id_EATER) chose with input from @defectivebrayne is titled:

A 1,000-Year-Old Antimicrobial Remedy with Antistaphylococcal Activity

It’s a pretty straight forward paper which details the preparation of an ancient antimicrobial recipe and some studies on it’s antimicrobial efficacy. Some of the authors are on twitter (@friendlymicrobe, @sbi5ar and @stevediggle) which means we may have the opportunity to ask them questions directly.

Please keep the following discussion points/questions in mind when reading the paper and feel free to tweet to @microtwjc or comment below with any points/questions you might have during reading as well as any question you might have for the authors directly.

  1. How does the introduction support the research and (in addition to the discussion) help contextualize the findings in the field?
  2. What are the advantages and limitations of the experimental models chosen to study the antimicrobial effect of Bald’s eyesalve?
  3. Are the conclusions supported by the data (methods and results) in the paper?
  4. What have we learnt after reading the paper?
  5. Given what we have learnt, what future work would be of interest to conduct?

Here’s the abstract and hope to see you online!

Plant-derived compounds and other natural substances are a rich potential source of compounds that kill or attenuate pathogens that are resistant to current antibiotics. Medieval societies used a range of these natural substances to treat conditions clearly recognizable to the modern eye as microbial infections, and there has been much debate over the likely efficacy of these treatments. Our interdisciplinary team, comprising researchers from both sciences and humanities, identified and reconstructed a potential remedy for Staphylococcus aureus infection from a 10th century Anglo-Saxon leechbook. The remedy repeatedly killed established S. aureus biofilms in an in vitro model of soft tissue infection and killed methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) in a mouse chronic wound model. While the remedy contained several ingredients that are individually known to have some antibacterial activity, full efficacy required the combined action of several ingredients, highlighting the scholarship of premodern doctors and the potential of ancient texts as a source of new antimicrobial agents.