Navigation Links
University of Wisconsin chemists find new compounds to curb staph infection

MADISON, Wis. In an age when microbial pathogens are growing increasingly resistant to the conventional antibiotics used to tamp down infection, a team of Wisconsin scientists has synthesized a potent new class of compounds capable of curbing the bacteria that cause staph infections.

Writing online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a group led by University of Wisconsin-Madison chemistry Professor Helen Blackwell describes agents that effectively interfere with the "quorum sensing" behavior of Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium at the root of a host of human infections ranging from acne to life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia, toxic shock syndrome and sepsis.

"It's a whole new world for us," says Blackwell, whose group identified peptide-based signaling molecules that effectively outcompete the native molecules the bacterium uses to communicate and activate the genes that cause disease.

Bacteria use quorum sensing to assess their population density and coordinate certain behaviors. They do so through the use of pheromone-like chemicals, which bind to receptors either in the bacterial cell or on its surface and tell it if there are enough companion bacteria around to switch on genes that perform certain functions. In the case of Staphylococcus aureus, quorum sensing activates toxin production, manifesting disease in the host.

Interfering with bacterial quorum sensing to stymie disease is considered a promising new antibiotic strategy, says Blackwell. Staph, she adds, is an excellent target as the bacterium is not only a prevalent pathogen, but some strains, notably methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA, have developed resistance to commonly used antibiotics such as penicillin and its derivatives.

The new compounds synthesized by Blackwell and her colleagues are peptides that work at very low concentrations by blocking the chemical receptors the bacterium uses to regulate quorum sensing. The new agents devised by Blackwell and her group work on the four subtypes of staph, all of which use different quorum sensing signals and are found in different infection types.

"We had not worked much in this area because the (signaling molecules) are somewhat challenging to synthesize," explains Blackwell. "We now have developed methods to make these molecules and analogs much more efficiently, which helped fuel this new study."

For now, the compounds devised by the Wisconsin team will have their greatest impact in the lab as research probes to further study the role of quorum sensing in Staphylococcus aureus. In addition, the gritty details of how these synthetic agents work in the cell need to be determined in order to optimize their potential use in both the lab and clinic. Such studies are ongoing.

"The impact of these new peptides could be significant because staph is an important and increasingly scary pathogen. There is plenty of scope," notes Blackwell.


Contact: Helen Blackwell
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Related biology news :

1. University of Maryland Medical Center launches genetic-testing program for cardiac patients
2. University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers find potential novel treatment for influenza
3. University of Houston engineering professor awarded grant to study melanoma treatment
4. Saint Louis University, University of Toronto biologists help decode turtle genome
5. Wayne State University startup, Advaita, to participate in new Michigan I-Corps program
6. Indiana University associate professor earns APSs Henry Pickering Bowditch Award
7. University of Southern California scientists reveal natural process that blocks viruses
8. University of Houston engineering researchers theories to be tested in space
9. University of Tennessee professors research shows Gulf of Mexico resilient after spill
10. Mercyhurst Universitys new DNA sequencer to accelerate scientific research in region
11. Student named universitys first Lawrence scholar, researching at national laboratory
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/16/2015)... JOSE, Calif. , Nov 16, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... developer of human interface solutions, today announced expansion ... Synaptics TouchView ™ touch controller and display ... architectural revolution of smartphones. These new TDDI products ... include TD4100 (HD resolution), TD4302 (WQHD resolution), and ...
(Date:11/10/2015)... LONDON , Nov. 10, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... segmented on the basis of product, type, ... segments included in this report are consumables, ... this report are safety biomarkers, efficacy biomarkers, ... in this report are diagnostics development, drug ...
(Date:11/2/2015)... 2, 2015  SRI International has been awarded a ... development services to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) PREVENT ... scientific expertise, modern testing and support facilities, and analytical ... and toxicology studies to evaluate potential cancer prevention drugs. ... PREVENT Cancer Drug Development Program is an NCI-supported pipeline ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 --> ... report released by Transparency Market Research, the global non-invasive ... CAGR of 17.5% during the period between 2014 and ... Global Industry Analysis, Size, Volume, Share, Growth, Trends and ... testing market to reach a valuation of US$2.38 bn ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... InSphero AG, the leading supplier of easy-to-use ... promoted Melanie Aregger to serve as Chief Operating Officer. , Having joined ... management team and was promoted to Head of InSphero Diagnostics in 2014. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015  PDL BioPharma, Inc. (PDL) (NASDAQ: PDLI ) ... president and chief executive officer, will present at the 27 ... New York City . The presentation will ... 2015 at 9:30 a.m. EST. and ... at least 15 minutes prior to the presentation to allow ...
(Date:11/23/2015)... THOUSAND OAKS, Calif., Nov. 23, 2015   Ceres, ... company, announced today financial results for the fiscal year ... its business. --> --> ... on commercializing forage and feed products with a better ... the company signed distribution agreements with several leading crop ...
Breaking Biology Technology: