Reviews Minerva


BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 04 August 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:292

The synthesis of a new class of ring peptides that selectively increase the permeability of bacterial cell membranes is reported in Nature (2001;412:452-5). The accompanying in vitro and pilot studies in mice demonstrating the efficacy of these peptides against methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus are encouraging. New antimicrobial agents are urgently needed to counter growing drug resistance.

The difficulty of accurately charting the spread of an emerging infectious disease is illustrated by a seroepidemiological survey undertaken six weeks after New York's first epidemic of West Nile encephalitis (Lancet 2001;358:261-4). The 1999 outbreak was thought to have affected 2.6% of the population, but the survey data show that 90% of mildly symptomatic and asymptomatic infections were missed.

A clear account of the global distribution of West Nile virus appears in Emerging Infectious Diseases (2001;7(suppl 3)). One of a group of papers in a special supplement, it emphasises “the ease with which exotic pathogens can move between continents,” and the need to improve the surveillance, prevention, and control of vector-borne diseases.

Cartilage injuries rarely heal, and most result in degenerative change of the affected joint. Much research is being directed towards …

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