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Novel approach strips staph of virulence
Date:2/14/2008

, he wondered if any could turn staph colorless and make them once again susceptible to the immune system.

Colleagues in Taiwan determined the structure of the enzyme that triggers the first critical step in staphs pigment formation and observed striking similarities to an enzyme involved in human cholesterol production. They also captured the structures of several cholesterol-lowering drugs bound to the bacterial enzyme.

Building on their 2005 research that sparked the current study, Victor Nizet, M.D., and George Liu, M.D., Ph.D., now at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Calif., tested eight different drug compounds that act on the human cholesterol enzyme. Three blocked pigment production in laboratory tests. When the researchers treated mice infected with S. aureus with one of the compounds, the bacterial population was reduced by 98 percent.

Because the approach reduces the virulence of the bacteria by stopping pigment production, it may not cause selective pressures on the population, which can lead to antibiotic resistance. It also targets only S. aureus, possibly reducing side effects.

This is an entirely new approach that seems to work in animals, and now we need to take the next step to explore if it will work in humans, said Oldfield.


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Contact: Emily Carlson
carlsone@nigms.nih.gov
301-496-7301
NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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