Navigation Links
A new weapon in the war against superbugs
Date:12/2/2013

In the arms race between bacteria and modern medicine, bacteria have gained an edge. In recent decades, bacterial resistance to antibiotics has developed faster than the production of new antibiotics, making bacterial infections increasingly difficult to treat. Scientists worry that a particularly virulent and deadly "superbug" could one day join the ranks of existing untreatable bacteria, causing a public health catastrophe comparable with the Black Death.

Now research led by Dr. Udi Qimron of Tel Aviv University's Department of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine has discovered a protein that kills bacteria. The isolation of this protein, produced by a virus that attacks bacteria, is a major step toward developing a substitute for conventional antibiotics. "To stay ahead of bacterial resistance, we have to keep developing new antibiotics," said Dr. Qimron. "What we found is a small protein that could serve as a powerful antibiotic in the future."

Dr. Ido Yosef, Ruth Kiro, and Shahar Molshanski-Mor of TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Dr. Sara Milam and Prof. Harold Erickson of Duke University contributed to the research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Teaming up with a killer

Bacterial resistance is a natural process. But over the past sixty years or so, the misuse and overuse of antibiotics has pushed more and more bacteria to become more and more resistant, undermining one of the pillars of modern health care. Recently, the World Health Organization named growing antibiotic resistance one of the three greatest threats to public health.

Bacteriophages, often referred to as "phages," are viruses that infect and replicate in bacteria. Because they coevolved with bacteria, they are optimized to kill them. As proof of their endurance, phages are the most common life form on earth, outnumbering bacteria 10 to one. In places like the former Soviet Union, phages have been used to treat bacterial infections for the past hundred years. Harmless to humans, they inject their DNA into bacteria and rapidly replicate, killing their hosts.

"Ever since the discovery of bacteriophages in the early 20th century, scientists have understood that, on the principle of the 'enemy of my enemy is my friend,' medical use could be made of phages to fight viruses," said Dr. Qimron.

Breaking out the little guns

Dr. Qimron and his colleagues set out to understand how all 56 proteins found in T7, a particularly virulent phage that infects Escherichia coli bacteria, contribute to its functioning. They discovered that one of the proteins, called 0.4, impedes cell division in E. coli, causing the cells of the bacteria to elongate and then die. The protein is common to many bacteria and a similar process occurs in all bacteria, so the finding may have wide application.

No bacteriophage preparation has been approved in Western medicine for treating systemic bacterial infections. One reason is their inability to penetrate body tissues effectively. They are filtered effectively from the bloodstream by the spleen and liver, and occasionally neutralized by antibodies. But the 0.4 protein is much smaller than a whole phage, and so should be able to penetrate tissue better, getting to the bacteria to do its deadly work.

The major challenge for pharmaceutical companies will be figuring out how exactly to deliver the protein as a drug, said Dr. Qimron. In the meantime, he continues to hunt for other proteins that kill bacteria.


'/>"/>

Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Zooming in on bacterial weapons in 3-D
2. New way to grow, isolate cancer cells may add weapon against disease
3. Researchers study vaccine as potential weapon against aggressive brain tumors
4. In war with superbugs, Cedars-Sinai researchers see new weapon: Immune-boosting vitamin
5. Weapon-wielding marine microbes may protect populations from foes
6. Piranha kin wielded dental weaponry even T. rex would have admired
7. Grape seed and skin extract - a weapon in the fight against kidney disease caused by high-fat diets
8. Ebolas secret weapon revealed
9. UofL scientists uncover how grapefruits provide a secret weapon in medical drug delivery
10. Researchers discover new weapon in fight against cervical cancer
11. Nanodrug targeting breast cancer cells from the inside adds weapon: Immune system attack
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... , ... Despite last week’s media reports hinting at a June rate hike ... March 2017 for an interest rate increase, according to Rajeev Dhawan of the Economic ... Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) dot charts are of interest to the press for ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... Hampshire (PRWEB) , ... May 26, 2016 , ... ... care products, has been honored with a 2016 When Work Works Award for its ... award, part of the national When Work Works project administered by the Families and ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... , ... May 26, 2016 , ... ... clinical outcomes, hosted members and suppliers for its inaugural Member Conference at the ... their mission of elevating the operational health of America’s healthcare providers. , The ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Connor Sports, through its Connor Cares initiative, will ... Tamika Catchings Legacy Tour that will commemorate the Indiana Fever legend’s hall-of-fame career ... all forms and levels of the game, Connor Sports has committed to a significantly ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... , ... The Woodlands at John Knox Village , Florida’s first Life ... living and healing, celebrated its grand opening, today. The Woodlands at John Knox Village ... Empowered Staff. , “This is an incredibly fulfilling time for John Knox Village as ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/25/2016)... , May 25, 2016  Granger Diagnostics today ... test for wounds and infections. This test ensures ... and select viruses. The test requires only a ... David G. Bostwick , MD, ... to facilitate wound healing: "We are excited to ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... , May 25, 2016 ... the precision of circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) analysis ... the appointment of Professor Clive Morris ... leadership across the clinical development programme, scientific collaborations, ... help deliver significant improvements in clinical outcomes for ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... -- Cirujanos holandeses han puesto en marcha ... a compartir sus mejores prácticas por el mundo y ... de Europa, África, Asia y ... que combina la transmisión en vivo con mensajería instantánea ... Educación   "Imagine un médico de Medicines sans ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: