Now, scientists have discovered a way to protect against death following infection with plague bacteria, by using molecules that can mimic the pathogens. According to research published in the July issue of Microbiology, these molecules make antibiotics more effective and can even be used to protect against other diseases.
The plague, caused by Yersinia pestis, has killed an estimated 200 million people worldwide. Although treatments have improved, it remains a threat to public health. It can be transmitted from human to human in aerosols and is therefore listed as a Category A bioterrorism agent.
"Yersinia pestis is successful in causing disease in mammals because it can dampen the normal non-specific immune response to infection," said Dr Scott Minnich from the University of Idaho, USA. "We found an intranasal therapy that stimulates the innate immune response and protects against pneumonic plague."
Following infection, lipid A (which is part of the bacterial surface) binds to receptors on our immune cells, triggering an immune response. Yersinia pestis circumvents this, stopping our cells from taking action. Molecules have been developed that mimic lipid A, eliciting a strong immune response that can prevent death in infected animals. Dr Minnich and his colleagues studied the effect of a nasal spray containing two such molecules, CRX-524 and CRX-527, on mice infected with Yersinia pestis.
"Treatment with synthetic modified lipid A molecules can directly protect animals against pneumonic plague infections," said Dr Minnich. "We also found that stimulating innate immunity using this nasal spray enhanced conventional antibiotic therapy. When it is given along with antibiotics, fewer doses and less antibiotic protects against pneumonic plague."
The results of this study suggest that synthetic modified lipid A compounds may provide a new therapeutic tool against plague infection. In a control group that did not receive the treatment, only 23% of mice survived for 3 days. When given the mimic molecules, up to 93% of mice survived for 3 days, 70% for 4 days and 34% recovered completely. This highlights the importance of the non-specific, first-line immune defences during the critical early phase of infection. Stimulating this response can over-ride a microorganism's counter measures to evade or disable the immune response.
Other studies have shown related therapeutic compounds are also effective against influenza and Listeria monocytogenes. "This work is still at a very basic animal model testing stage with regards to plague," said Dr Minnich. "What is exciting is that these studies provide insight into bacterial/host interactions in the disease process and promise new strategies to combat a variety of infectious agents."
Lucy Goodchild | EurekAlert!
Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München
Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences