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Theoretical Issues in Plant Biology

Panel Discussion, continued...

Q:  How does Vancomycin work?

GIRARD:  Vancomycin works on a cell's wall, not the same target necessarily as Penicillin. The terminal chain has to have the amino acidalanine at the end of it. It works on blocking that so you don't get cross linkage. So it works similar to a lethal agent on the cell wall. The resistance that occurs with Entercoccus is that a lot of times those organisms have different terminal amino acids. You might have a valine on there or something like that which the Vancomycin cannot find so it cannot inhibit the cell's wall. Some of these are very common agents. One that's used in yogurt, for instance, Lactobacillus, commonly has a terminal chain that does not have alanine and therefore is resistant to Vancomycin. Fortunately, it doesn't produce disease either or not a substantial amount. It's a very rare occasion.

Q:  The question is about if you go out to a drugstore and pick up a sunscreen that has UV ratings, what does that rating cover?

ROTHSCHILD:  I've wondered about that. I was only sort of half jokingly suggested we start testing things in the lab. I understand that they are tested. They're tested with UVB. So if they block out the UVB so they're probably okay. But I also understand that, again, this is what I understand. I have no direct proof. I have to rely on a colleague of mine who know smore than I. She says that part of the problem with sunscreens is actually break-down products. The break-down products themselves can actually be toxic to the cells. The bottom line is the best thing is to cover up. But the flip side is if you don't get any sun, you're also in trouble. The Europeans in particular like to do helio therapy with some form of things like psoriasis. I saw some unbelievable photographs when I was in Germany in January of helio therapy where they had people out in Sweden in the winter, snow all over and these people wearing nothing but bikinis or briefs or goodness knows what they were wearing that I didn't see, with folding chairs out in the snow soaking up the sun. But the results were amazing. These are people had not just a little patch of psoriasis but very serious psoriasis. So there is the good and bad. A little bit is very good for you. Too much isn't. Probably the safest thing really is to cover up and stay out of the sun at the bad times of day.


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