Minerva: September 2001
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.
The side effects of treatment may take time to become apparent. In this instance a man with schizophrenia developed restless toes, a movement disorder associated with flupentixol decanoate, a depot antipsychotic drug. The condition was