is an acronym for a peptide-conjugated phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomer. The chemical is a synthetic analog of DNA or RNA that has the ability to silence the expression of specific genes within bacterial cells. PPMOs are completely synthesized in the laboratory.
In animal studies
, one form of PPMO showed significant control of two strains of the bacteria Acinetobacter
. This is a group of bacteria of global concern
are widely distributed in nature, and commonly occur in soil. They can survive on moist and dry surfaces, including in a hospital environment. Some strains have been isolated from foodstuffs. In drinking water. In immunocompromised individuals, several Acinetobacter
can cause life-threatening infections. Such species also exhibit a relatively broad degree of antibiotic resistance.
The success of the new agent is because it offers a fundamentally different means of attack on bacterial infection. PPMOs specifically target the underlying genes of a bacterium.
It is important to note that PPMOs have not yet been tested in humans, and that further development work is required.
The research into the new chemicals was undertaken at Oregon State University. The findings have been published
in the Journal of Infectious Diseases
, in a paper headed “Gene-Silencing Antisense Oligomers Inhibit Acinetobacter
Growth In Vitro and In Vivo.”