I figure it's safe to say that most of us have ended up getting stitches at some point in our lives. Not to imply that y'all are snitches -- stuff just happens, right? If you haven't gotten stitches, please ask your nearest friend who has made their living in a kitchen or on a construction site -- they probably have a story about getting stitches at some point. It's going to sound terrible, and it was definitely worse than it sounds, because getting stitches sucks. The hope for an adhesive solution that lets doctors close wounds without resorting to stitches, staples, or sutures is a lasting one, and researchers at the University of British Columbia appear to have made some headway toward that goal. In a study published today in the journal PNAS Early Edition, the UBC team reports promising findings that the adhesive that mussels use to stick to the rocky shores where they make their home could one day lead to medical glues to reattach and hold together severed blood vessels.
In May, a form of the bacteria Escherichia coli (better known as E. coli) began infecting people in Germany and other parts of Europe. Now, with 18 dead and over 1,500 people infected, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that the strain responsible for the outbreak has never before been isolated from a human patient, making it a completely new strain. Designated as 0104:H4, the new E. coli strain combines two particularly dangerous elements -- toxin and "glue." Genetic analysis has shown that the strain is in a class of E. coli called STEC that produces Shiga toxin, which causes diarrhea and vomiting. In severe cases, it can also cause hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) by attacking the kidneys and causing subsequent coma, seizure, and stroke. Researchers believe that like other STEC's, this strain contains a "glue" or protein that helps the bacteria cling to the cells in the intestine.