Scientists isolated a new class of antibiotics from the soil bacterial species Eleftheria terra using a new form of technology called an iChip. This discovery opens the doors to many other breakthroughs in healthcare technology. It is highly effective, therefore it is extremely proficient in destroying all resistant strains of bacteria. Furthermore, it can provide an alternative avenue of antibiotics for individuals who are allergic or unable to take the current medication.
Furthermore, scientists tested Teixobactin has against pathogenic strands of Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA, Streptococcus pneumonia, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Clostridium difficile, and Bacillus anthracis. They accomplished this by giving each of the representative strains of bacteria a single dose of the Teixobactin. These experiments concluded that no resistant bacteria remained in every species tested. Additionally, more studies have shown that it also decreased the pathogenic cell density in septic MRSA infections and pneumococcal pneumonia.
How Does it Work?
The chemical antibiotic, termed Teixobactin, inhibits bacterial wall formation by inhibiting the synthesis of its main component, peptidoglycan. Teixobactin does this by binding to specific molecules called lipid I and lipid II. These molecules serve as precursors to peptidoglycan and teichoic acid respectively. It is therefore primarily active against Gram-positive strains of bacteria and is projected to not affect Gram-negative strains because of their different exterior anatomy.
In addition, antibiotics have been a significant concern in the medical community for years. The increased frequency of antibiotic use has led to the development of resistant bacteria strains and diminished the efficacy of the antibiotic. Therefore, researchers are always in search of new antibiotic agents, such as Teixobactin, that could potentially be effective against pathogenic bacterial strains without creating more resistant strains. They addressed this by isolating the antibacterial chemical, Teixobactin, and placing it in growths of Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria species. It proved ineffective against the Gram-negative strains. However, the antimicrobial proved effective against all Gram-positive strains. Moreover, further testing found this approach to be valid with conclusive data that showed that diminished resistant strains in any of the original bacterial cultures.
Furthermore, Teixobactin introduces a new possibility of antibiotic medication into the healthcare system. Penicillin is the most commonly used antibiotic today. The frequent use of it not only creates resistant strains, but it also inhibits those who are allergic to it because they are unable to take advantage of the antibiotic when they suffer from an infection from common pathogenic bacterial species. The introduction of a new antimicrobial would allow people who are allergic to Penicillin to have alternative medicines that are effective against common pathogens.
Have you ever given up on love and resorted to getting a dog because they understand you best? We’ve all been there. What’s impressive is that the compatibility between man and dog goes beyond puppy eyes. Scientists have sequenced the dog genome and found a large number of genetic similarities to the human genome.
A genome is all the DNA sequences in an organism. The DNA serves as a blueprint that creates a specific organism. Essentially, your DNA and my DNA specify that we are humans; while my pet dog’s DNA makes him a dog. With the large variety of species on earth, one would think that the DNA would vary significantly from one species to another. That is not the case. Many species DNA is more than 90% identical! For example, chimpanzees are 98% identical to humans and mice are 93% identical to humans.
With a so much identical DNA, why don’t we look more similar? This phenomenon occurs because, even though we have a lot of similar DNA, it is not all used. There are large portions of DNA that do not code for anything that we know of yet. These portions are called introns. The parts that are used are called exons. These exons are used to make proteins that compose the entire body. Therefore, a lot of genetic similarities are found in the intron regions, while the exons make us all look different.
Scientists have successfully sequenced the entire dog genome through a method called shotgun sequencing. This method involves blasting the DNA into small parts, much like how a shotgun blasts things apart, then sequencing each fragment. Afterward, they use the overlapping regions to put the pieces back together much like how you would put together a puzzle. Scientists commonly utilize this method because it is a quick and efficient solution to sequencing large genomes. Through this, they found that the dog genome is 93% identical to the human genome. This discovery is important because it allows us to see the genetic differences and similarities between different dog species as well as in humans. It also allows us to identify specific parts in DNA that are responsible for specific traits and diseases that are common in both species.
On July 5, 1996, the most renowned sheep in history was born, which also marked a breakthrough in scientific technology. Ian Wilmut and a group of Scottish scientists announced that they had successfully cloned a sheep named Dolly. Though the newly cloned sheep served as a significant scientific breakthrough, it also caused major controversy over the future and evolution of cloning (Bonsor and Conger). Since 1996, the science behind cloning has advanced, but cloning still creates religious and ethical disputes. Some say that cloning is against God’s plan for humanity and also abuses the laws of nature (Jackson), but cloning also has many profound medical benefits.
The process suspect for human cloning is called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), which is the method used to create Dolly. Somatic cell nuclear transfer involves doctors removing an egg cell from a female donor. The doctors then remove its nucleus, thus creating an enucleated egg. Another cell, which contains DNA, is taken from the organism being cloned. Scientists then fuse the enucleated egg and the subject’s cell with electricity. Once the cells fuze, an embryo is created. Doctors then implant the embryo into a surrogate mother through in-vitro fertilization (Bonsor and Conger).
Cloning is a popular topic in science-fiction literature. However, the idea of cloning has been around for a long time. The first data found on the concept of cloning dates back to approximately 40 years ago. Furthermore, in 1952, scientists cloned frogs from asexual tadpole cells. Furthermore, in 1997, scientists in Scotland successfully cloned Dolly the sheep, which brought cloning technology into the spotlight (McGee).
Cloning provides great medical advancements via stem cells. These specialized cells can develop into any cell type in the body. This talent is what makes them the stars of regenerative medicine research. The industrial goal of cloning is to grow stem cells to produce new tissues and organs for patients suffering from various diseases. With today’s technology, scientists can alter adult cells to create single-use pluripotent cells that have the ability to differentiate into different types of cells. These cells are called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) (McGee).
Additionally, cloning can benefit medical advances and patient care in the healthcare industry. One of the most likely uses is as a method of assisted reproduction. Infertility affects approximately 10-15% of couples of the reproductive age throughout the developing world. However, the widespread introduction of assisted reproductive technologies has resulted in a high number of pregnancies and births that otherwise could not have occurred.
On the other hand, some people may not be able to find success in these methods possibly due to the absence of sperm or egg cells. The only options for these individuals are sperm donation, oocyte donation, adoption, surrogate mothers or reproductive cloning. Couples and individuals who wish to bear a child who has their DNA must utilize reproductive cloning to have success. Assisted reproductive cloning could also be used by individuals or couples who do not wish to reproduce by traditional means. By using cloning technology, couples or individuals can solve infertility or reproduce with minimal genetic input from another party (Zavos).
Another medical use for cloning technology is therapeutic cloning. Cloning could be used to create tissues immunologically identical to an existing individual. In therapeutic cloning, genetic material from and the adult cell is placed inside an egg to grow beneficial stem cells. This procedure does not produce a baby. Instead, scientists seek to use the stem cells to generate necessary organs for transplant independently. They can also increase our understanding of development and the origins of disease (Barglow).
California’s Three-Strikes Law came into effect in March 1994 with the purpose of decreasing the number of violent re-offenders. The law mandates imprisonment for a minimum of 25 years for offenders found guilty of a third felony. In a sense, this law operates as, “Three strikes and you’re out.” While the first two offenses must be serious felonies, the third can accrue to be any type of felony (Greenwood, et al., 1994). To combat the law, Stanford University created the Stanford Prison Advocacy Project. They provide unique services for those affected by the Three-Strikes Law such as litigation and research.
Stanford Law School’s Justice Advocacy Project was created to combat the Three-Strikes Law through a variety of methods. However, their most impactful initiatives involve direct contact with the offenders. The project provides legal aid to represent those sentenced to life for minor crimes under the Three-Strikes Law and pursue civil rights impact cases regarding prison conditions and mandatory minimums. It also is a key component to develop criminal justice reforms to reduce sentences for non-violent crimes, such a Proposition 36 (Stanford Law School, 2018).
Furthermore, their Ride Home re-entry program provides services to released offenders to assist them in acclimating back into society. One of these services is access to re-entry counselors. These counselors are all reformed inmates. Visitation with these counselors is meant to decrease recidivism rates (Stanford Law School, 2018).
In addition to programs, they also provide cutting-edge research that gives Stanford Law School students valuable experience. This experience allows Stanford to continue their movement with the next generation of lawyers. Their research is meant to push the legal boundaries and influence policymakers to provide equal protection and rights for individuals convicted under the Three-Strikes Law (Stanford Law School, 2018).
Due to public outrage to the Three-Strike Law, Congress passed Proposition 36 (Prop 36) in November of 2012. Prop 36 changed the sentencing requirements, so third-strike offenders were only subject to imprisonment for a minimum of 25 years if they are found guilty of a third violent felony. Therefore, offenders who were serving time due to non-violent third-strikes received a reduced sentence. Furthermore, the law treated them as if they only had two strikes (The Judicial Branch of California, 2018)
Furthermore, a study conducted in 2013 found that Prop 36 resulted in the release of over 1,000 inmates. Moreover, less than 2% re-offended with new crimes, which is below state and national recidivism rates. The release of inmates led to financial advantages by saving taxpayers in California between and $10 and $13 million (Aleaziz, 2014).
Many critics of Stanford Law School’s Justice Advocacy Project believe that it obstructs investigations and frees violent offenders too soon. Rates of violent crimes in California increased by approximately 4% from 2015 to 2016 (Thompson, 2018). Moreover, property crime and violent crimes increased by 8% in 2017. Police found that habitual offenders committed most of the offenses (Harvard Kennedy School, 2018).
Furthermore, critics claim that the Stanford Law School’s Justice Advocacy Project is discriminatory in their services. They claim that it provides fewer and lower quality services to minority individuals and those suffering from mental disorders. Further claims say that they favor individuals of higher socioeconomic classes in their programs and services (Ghosn, 2015).
While Utah does not have a formal three-strike law, it does have provisions that exponentially increase the penalties for habitual offenders. According to Utah Code 76-3-203.5, an offender that has been found guilty and convicted of two violent felonies is subject to an enhancement in their punishment when convicted of a third violent felony (Utah State Legislator, 2013). This can lead to a first-degree level sentence for a felony that would classify as a third or second-degree under normal circumstances. Furthermore, if the first offense was a first-degree felony, then probation can be revoked. Furthermore, the individual’s standing as a habitual offender plays a key role in parole decisions (Canyon’s Law Group, 2018). Also, unlike California, Utah does not have an established advocacy program to ensure equality for these offenders.
Domestic violence offenses in Utah are treated similarly to the Three-Strikes Law. In these cases, enhancements are made to the offender’s punishment after one prior charge of domestic violence within a five-year period (Utah State Legislature, 2018).
Aleaziz, H. (2014, April 4). Study Says Inmates Released Under Prop. 36 Have Low Recidivism Rate. Stanford Law School Press.
Canyon’s Law Group. (2018, January 2). Does Utah Criminal Law Have a Three-Strikes Rule? Retrieved from Canyon’s Law Group: http://www.howarddefense.com
Ghosn, A. (2015, February 25). The Pitfalls of California’s Three Strikes Law. The Stanford Daily.
Greenwood, P. W., Rydell, C. P., Abrahamse, A. F., Caulkins, J. P., Chiesa, J., Model, K. E., & Klein, S. P. (1994). Three Strikes and You’re Out: Estimated Benefits and Costs of California’s New Mandatory Sentencing Law. RAND, 1-85.
Harvard Kennedy School. (2018, April). Recidivism and Reentry. Retrieved from Prison Policy Initiative: https://www.prisonpolicy.org
Stanford Law School. (2018). Stanford Law School. Retrieved from Three Strikes & Justice Advocacy Project: https://law.stanford.edu
The Judicial Branch of California. (2018). California’s Three Strikes Sentencing Law. Retrieved from California Courts: The Judicial Branch of California: California’s Three Strikes Sentencing Law
Thompson, D. (2018, April 9). Groups Debate if California has Gone too far on Crime Reform. The Sacramento Bee.
Utah State Legislator. (2013). Habitual Violent Offender. Retrieved from Utah State Legislator: https://le.utah.gov
Utah State Legislature. (2018, March 22). Enhancement of Offense and Penalty for Subsequent Domestic Violence Offenses. Retrieved from Utah State Legislature: https://le.utah.gov
Mental and physical health problems are more prominent in prison populations in comparison to the general public. On average, inmates have significantly higher rates of chronic diseases and illnesses such as hypertension, asthma, arthritis, cervical cancer, and hepatitis (Binswanger, Krueger, & Steiner, 2009). Furthermore, mental healthcare problems are consistently more prevalent in prison populations. The strict prison subculture is exceptionally detrimental to individuals suffering from these diseases (Birmingham, 2003). Overall, prisoners receive a lower quality of mental healthcare even though the court mandates equality.
In prison environments, adequate healthcare is usually only reserved for those who have severe mental or physical illnesses and injuries. Furthermore, treatment is dependent on resource availability and demand. Over 50% of the prisoners who underwent pharmacotherapy for mental diseases before being incarcerated did not receive medication in prison. The lack of treatment can have severe consequences such as rehabilitation failure, recidivism, or even death (Reingle Gonzalez & Connell, 2014).
In addition, studies show that prisoners generally receive a lower quality of care because they are not considered paying customers. This status provides little incentive for prison healthcare providers to offer a high quality of care. Furthermore, approval to perform necessary tests and surgical procedures is a lengthy process that often is received after the prisoner has been transferred or released. Additionally, many prisoners have accused practitioners and nurses operating in prisons of avoiding crucial procedures and surgeries that have a high cost to the public (Awofeso, 2005). These decisions are often based on political views in regards to prisoners as well as a means of budgeting their expenses (Asch, et al., 2006).
Furthermore, many prisoners claim that the prison system hinders their ability to voice their health concerns. National health surveys often ignore inmates, so the public is vastly unaware about the prison population’s overall health. This exclusion also creates a skewed perception of disease and illness precedence in prisons (Awofeso, 2005).
The main focus on the prison system is to provide a reformative environment for the inmate so they can learn from their past and become a thriving citizen upon release. Prisons provide a location where these people can learn and grow while maintaining the safety of the general public. However, upholding the same level of security and care within prison facilities is essential to the reform process. Overall, the average amount of money that each state spends each year per prisoner is $33,274. Furthermore, approximately 11% of the total money spent goes towards healthcare needs. To serve as a point of comparison, 68% of prison expenditures provide for personnel salaries (Vera Institute of Justice, 2015). With the low amount of funding, healthcare has little effect on the overall prison operations.
Asch, S. M., Kerr, E. A., Keesey, J., Adams, J. L., Setodji, C. M., Malik, S., & McGlynn, E. A. (2006, March 16). Who Is at Greatest Risk for Receiving Poor-Quality Health Care? New England Journal of Medicine, 354, 1147-1156.
Awofeso, N. ( 2005, July 30). Making Prison Health Care More Efficient: Inmates Need More Organised and More Preventive Health Care in Emptier Prisons. National Center for Biotechnology Information, 331(7511), 248–249.
Binswanger, I. A., Krueger, P. M., & Steiner, J. F. (2009, July 30). Prevalence of Chronic Medical Conditions among Jail and Prison Inmates in the United States Compared with the General Population. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
Birmingham, L. (2003, May 9). The Mental Health of Prisoners. BJPsych Advances, 3, 191-199.
Ginn, S. (2012, September 17). Prison Environment and Health. British Medical Journal, 345.
Reingle Gonzalez, J. M., & Connell, N. M. (2014, December). Mental Health of Prisoners: Identifying Barriers to Mental Health Treatment and Medication Continuity. Am J Public Health, 104(12), 2328–2333.
Vera Institute of Justice. (2015). Prison Spending in 2015. Retrieved from Vera Institute of Justice: https://www.vera.org