Also: studying the laxative effects of coffee and personalized medicine via fruit flies

Why Does Coffee Make Us Poop? 

(Ed Cara, Gizmodo, 5/19/19)

At the annual Digestive Disease Week conference in San Diego researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston presented their findings from an experiment on the effect of coffee on lab rat digestion. Their preliminary results suggested that the laxative effect of coffee could be caused by the interaction of coffee and the muscle tissues of the intestines. The effect was no different for rats that were given decaf, implying that caffeine is not a contributor to this effect. Their findings also suggested that coffee influences gut bacteria, though whether this is a positive or negative effect was not apparent.

Civil War Battlefield Natural Therapies Effective against MDR Infections

(Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, 5/22/19)

Emory University researchers studied the antimicrobial effects of plants that were used to treat wounds during the American Civil War. Three plant species native to the southern US were studied, including Liriodendron tulipifera, Aralia spinosa, and Quercus alba, and were variously found to be effective in treating some multi-drug resistant bacteria. Some of the antimicrobial effects of the plant extracts included blocking growth, inhibiting biofilm formation, and interrupting quorum sensing.

A fruit fly model for testing colo-rectal drugs 

(Erdem Bangi et. al., Science Advances, 5/22/19)

Drosophila fruit flies were genetically modified to mimic a particular patient with terminal colorectal cancer. The flies were then tested on a variety of cancer drug combinations, and the best outcome for the flies was then administered to the patient. This treatment led to significant tumor shrinkage that remained stable for almost a full year. Researchers are hoping that this fruit fly model could prove more cost effective for personalized medicine than mouse models.

—Stories compiled by Senior Scientific Writer Mary Parker