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article imageCombating bacterial infections

By Tim Sandle     Feb 5, 2014 in Science
Brussels - Scientists have identified a chemical substance with the potential of acting as a new drug to treat bacterial infections. This becomes important as the rate of antibiotic resistance increases.
A research team has identified a chemical substance with the potential of acting as a new drug to treat bacterial infections, particularly urinary tract infections. Unlike antibiotics the new drug does not destroy pathogenic bacteria; instead it disarms them.
This is based on the main way that pathogenic bacteria infect human cells. Many pathogenic bacteria attach to a cell before they can infect it with the aid of hair-like structures called pili. Pili connect a bacterium to another of its species, or to another bacterium of a different species, and build a bridge between the interior of the cells. Dozens of these structures can exist on the bacteria. Knowing this, the research team screened databases of chemical components in search of chemical molecules that could inhibit pili formation.
This is illustrated in the following video:
The search was successful and the scientists found an inhibitor that interferes with an essential step in the assembly process of the pili. They tried the drug candidate out on a pathogenic form of Escherichia coli that causes urinary tract infections. This worked and the E. coli were unable to attach themselves to the host cells.
The research was led by Alvin Lo and Han Remaut (VIB/Vrije Universiteit Brussel). The findings have been published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. The research paper is titled “Suppression of type 1 pilus assembly in uropathogenic Escherichia coli by chemical inhibition of subunit polymerization.”
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