a microbiology newsletter -august, 2021
A newsletter of, by, and for microbiologists. Copyright 2021, all rights reserved
How effective is your vaccine against the Delta Variant?

The last Petri Dish Rack
you will ever have to buy!
Hardy's new DuraRack is constructed to last a life-time. Stop using brittle acrylic racks that must often be replaced. DuraRack is made of tough steel with a durable epoxy coating.

Re-purposing existing drugs

Is there a simple and
inexpensive treatment for Ebola?

Antidepressants may be our best bet in treating Ebola

The 2013 to 2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa made global headlines and inflamed discussion as the largest single outbreak of this deadly virus. The lack of a vaccine approved for use in humans and the rapid rate of mutation in the Ebolavirus genus create a particular vulnerability to large-scale outbreaks. While vaccination development focuses on traditional antiviral approaches, screens of FDA-approved drugs have shown that a multitude of agents will inhibit the progression of Ebola to varying degrees. A University of Oxford research group has demonstrated in three publications that protection from Ebolavirus can be achieved with existing pharmaceuticals.

Viruses consist of genetic material encapsulated in a protein coat. Elements of this protein coat are responsible for mediating entry of the virus into a host cell. The various ebolaviruses specifically use a glycoprotein trimer for essentially all functions of entry to a host cell, from attachment to membrane fusion. The critical importance of the glycoprotein and its subcomponents to ebolavirus infection make it of interest for controlling future epidemics: if the glycoprotein can be disrupted, Ebola loses its key to entering human cells.

The Oxford team started their research by crystallizing GP1, one of the components of the Ebola glycoprotein. By introducing pharmaceutical compounds and measuring the change in melting temperature of the protein, the binding strength of the compounds to the GP1 protein can be evaluated. Zhao et al conducted their first study in 2016, using the well-known painkiller ibuprofen and a selective estrogen receptor modulator used for breast cancer treatment called toremifene. They found that toremifene was particularly effective, reducing the melting temperature of the GP1 protein by 14°C at physiological pH and a concentration of 100 μM. The derived binding constant for toremifene based on this data becomes 16±4 μM, while ibuprofen was only hitting at 6±2 mM. The team was able to demonstrate that both agents were binding in a particular pocket on the GP1 protein.

In their 2017 study, Zhao et al chose a selection of eight compounds reported to have activity against Ebola, and repeated their thermal-shift assay with the new set of compounds. Four of the selected agents showed no affinity for the crystallized GP1, but the other four produced a significant effect. Their structures, and currently approved uses, are fairly diverse: bepridil is a calcium-channel blocker, sertraline and paroxetine are both selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs); and benztropine is a muscarinic antagonist prescribed to reduce extrapyramidal side effects. X-ray data showed that the same sub-pocket bound by ibuprofen and toremifene was the target for this set of drugs as well, with binding constants in the range of 0.29 – 1.3 mM. Recently, the same group has demonstrated that the antidepressants imipramine and clomipramine as well as the antipsychotic thioridazine are also capable of binding Ebola’s GP1 via the same sub-pocket.

The affinity of small molecules for the GP1 sub-pocket isn’t just a curiosity. In work funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), a team has tested some of these screening hits in mouse models to evaluate actual effectiveness. Over two studies, Lisa M. Johansen et al evaluated toremifene and the related drug clomipramine, as well as bepridil and sertraline. In mouse models, they found that dosing mice with toremifene led to a 50% survival rate against Ebolavirus, and clomipramine was particularly impressive, with a 90% survival rate. The antidepressant sertraline resulted in a 70% survival rate, but bepridil was the most impressive of all, with 100% of the mice surviving Ebola infection.

The work these two teams have done is an excellent lead on creating a true Ebolavirus treatment. While the high survival rates of the murine models in the DTRA studies is impressive, the drugs tested all had median inhibitory concentrations in the micromolar range, while typically drugs for use in humans only get to high nanomolar concentrations in vivo. The real utility of this research can come in conjunction with the structural analysis of the drug’s binding characteristics carried out by the Oxford team.

While an Ebola vaccine would be the preferred approach for preventing outbreaks, these two research teams have provided an unusually detailed look at what it would take to develop a structural inhibitor of Ebola glycoprotein by simply repurposing existing drugs that have a proven track record for decades.

Granted that murine studies do not always correlate with humans, but the creation of a small-molecule inhibitor, tailor-made to fit into the GP1 sub-pocket, may be a major step towards controlling the next Ebola outbreak when it occurs.

By Weston Mangin
Biomedical Engineer

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6


The Autof ms 1000
With the most extensive database of microorganisms

Hardy's new MALDI-TOF is now available for research use.

  • Database of approximately 5,000 species created with over 15,000 strains!

  • View a short introductory video

Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis
A little known,
but dangerous bug!

Want to lower your risk of contracting a MAP-related malady?...here's how.

Emerging research is implicating Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP) as the etiological cause of various diseases including inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease, Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto\’s thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis and autism.(8) This species of bacteria is a relative of M. tuberculosis and belongs to the Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) which consists of four subspecies: aviumhominissuissilvaticum, and paratuberculosis.

Due to the diseases that have become associated with this bacteria, it has us asking ourselves: What measures can be taken to prevent a MAP infection?”

Cattle have long been identified as a main vector for MAP. The infection arises when calves younger than one year of age are exposed to MAP-contaminated manure or milk. In that first year of life, it is critical that the calves are quarantined in a clean, controlled area where they can be protected from exposure to infected adult cattle. Unfortunately, since MAP is not categorized as a zoonotic pathogen, regulations do not exist to enforce preventative measures like these at the farm level. Consequently, farmers generally turn a blind eye to the problem. Livestock MAP infections increased by 69% from 1996 to 2007, and dairy and meat products taken from grocery stores shelves were found to have MAP contamination that survived industrial pasteurization(1,2,3).

If boiling your milk and cooking your beef beyond a crisp well done are not agreeable precautions, you may turn your attention to your home water supply. MAP is not destroyed by the chlorine levels introduced by water treatment plants, so it can make its home in your water filtration system, your shower heads, and even your water heater. Preventive measures that you can take at home include changing your water filters regularly, sanitizing your shower heads in bleach, throwing your humidifier in the trash, and draining your water heater every two weeks. Flee outdoors to escape your plumbing, and you may inhale MAP from the soil in your garden (4). For this reason, the author recommends filling your watering can with concrete.

Perhaps a more practical preventive measure than staying away from water and soil can be found in probiotics. A 2008 study analyzed the impact of giving mice a 45 day supplement of Lactobacillus acidophilus before inoculating them with MAP. This research showed that the probiotic significantly increased the immune response to MAP in the mice (5).

Vaccination may also prove a powerful weapon in the war on MAP. In populations with high exposure to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the BGC vaccine is administered to infants. Studies have suggested that this vaccine, developed from Mycobacterium bovis, may also protect children from diseases triggered by other mycobacteria including MAP. One study found that children who received a BCG vaccine within one month from birth were less susceptible to MAP infection and less likely to develop Type 1 Diabetes (6,7). 

MAP is a formidable microbe that will not be easily defeated, so batten down the hatches and never apologize for demanding well-done steaks.

By Mark Andrew Pruett
Performance Studies Technician,
Hardy Diagnostics
Works Cited:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Your one-stop source for COVID supplies!
Rapid Antigen and Antibody Covid Test Kits
Hardy announces two new kits for Covid. One for the viral antigen (nasal specimen), one for the IgM and IgG antibodies (blood specimen). Takes only minutes to get results and requires no equipment!
Viral Transport Medium
Hardy's viral specimen transport is ideal for COVID-19 antigen testing. The shelf life has been increased to 270 days at room temperature. Swabs are sold separately.
N95 Masks
NIOSH Certified, with silicone seal
Now available for immediate shipping!
Face Masks
With adjustable metal nose band.
Now available for immediate shipping!
flocked swab
Specimen Collection Swabs
Hardy offers swabs in the flocked, foam, and spun polyester formats.
Pick from nasopharyngeal, oropharyngeal, standard, or urethral.

Available for immediate shipping!

My friend didn't understand cloning...

That makes two of us.


  • A typo on headstone is a grave mistake
  • The best time of day is 6:30…hands down!

  • I have an inferiority complex. But it’s not nearly as good as yours

  • Never trust an atom. They make up everything.

  • Never use a preposition to end a sentence with.

Seeing is Believing?
  • Cover your left eye and look at the plus sign with your right eye.
  • When you the hit the blind spot, the yellow circle will disappear and the brain will fill the gap with another red circle.

"Believe nothing of what you hear, and only half of what you see"
~ Edgar Allen Poe

Your One-Stop Shop for Micro Supplies!
AloeSafe, a better way

Hardy's hand sanitizing gel guards against drying of your skin with Vitamin E, soothes with Aloe Vera, and has a pleasant scent with lavender oil. No harmful ingredients as with the cheap drug store variety! Don't your hands deserve the very best?
latex agglut
Easy Staph ID

With Hardy's StaphTex you can quickly identify Staphylococcus aureus using latex agglutination within minutes. Highly specific with no cross reactivity.

Free Gram Stain Tutorial

Hardy has prepared the best ever Gram stain technique tutorial that you can use for training new Techs....and it's FREE! Check it out below...
Lab Coats

For added protection on the job, Hardy offers disposable lab coats, featuring three pockets, and comfortable knit cuffs and collars

Pre-reduced anaerobic culture media, ready-to-use for your set-ups. Pouches are gassed out with nitrogen for superior growth. See our complete anaerobic catalog below...
Dehydrated Media

Hardy manufactures a complete line of powdered media. It is conveniently packaged in five different configurations ready for export.
Food Micro

Check our Hardy's complete mini-catalog on products to keep our food supply safe!
MBL Kwiksitks
QC Organisms

Hardy offers a complete line of qualitative and quantitative freeze dried organisms. Check out our complete catalog!
PYR Test

Rapid Test Methods

Check out our mini catalog on rapid test kits. You'll see many "hard to find" products that will save you time and money!
Loops of all kinds!

When it comes to loops, Hardy has it all. Nichrome, platinum, disposable, calibrated, needles, or spreaders. Click below to see our complete mini-catalog on inoculating loops.

Carba 5 Detects Carbapenemases

Detect the five most common enzymes of bacterial resistance to the carbapenems.
No equipment needed!
Now you can quickly detect colistin resistance and ESBLs using the same format (RUO). Find out how...
Compact Dry for Colony Counts - a better way!

Space saving miniplates for performing your colony counts.
Watch a short video to learn why the Compact Dry has many advantages over Petri Film!
CryoSavers for long term storage

Hardy offers a complete line of freezer vials, with or without beads, with many color choices for cap inserts.

Hardy's chromogenic plate for the detection of carbapenem resistant bacteria makes identification rapid and inexpensive. Request samples here.

Should Ivermectin be used in the treatment of COVID-19 infections?
The controversy rages on. Here are some references and studies that will help you to better understand the problem.


So you think you know it all?

Prove it here...
My bed is a magical place, where suddenly I remember everything I forgot to do!

Wisdom to Ponder...
Richard Branson

The English entrepreneur that founded the Virgin Group in the 1970s, which now controls over 400 companies. His net worth is now almost $6 billion. He recently became the first person to fly into outer space in a craft that he funded.

"Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again."
"Success cannot be measured in wealth, fame or power, but by whether you have made a positive difference for others."
"If people aren't calling you crazy, you aren't thinking big enough."

"Listen more than you talk. Nobody learned anything by hearing themselves speak."

"Many assume my business success has brought me happiness. But the way I see it, I am successful because I am happy."
"What is a business? It's simply an idea that makes someone else's life better"
"Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to keep things simple."
"Respect is how to treat everyone, not just those you want to impress."
"Brave people don't live forever, but cautious people don't live at all."
"Education doesn't just take place in stuffy classrooms and university buildings, it can happen everywhere, every day to every person."
"The best advice I could give anyone is to spend your time working on whatever you are passionate about in life."
"Every great movement in the world starts with a tiny group of people who simply refuse to accept a situation."

"It's not what happens to you...
it's what you do with what happens to you!"

Aldous Huxley - author of Brave New World
Increasing your protection...

How Zinc Ionophores can effectively fight COVID-19

References for utilizing Vitamin D and Zinc supplementation for the adjunct therapy
and prevention of COVID-19.

During our 41 years of serving the microbiology community, we have continually aimed to provide the utmost in "a culture of service" for our valued customers. As a 100% employee owned company, we have even more incentive to please our customers as best we possibly can every day. Do you have a suggestion, comment, or question? Please contact me here.

Jay Hardy, CLS, SM (NRCM)
CEO of Hardy Diagnostics