Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Virus product could kill anthrax and beat antibiotic resistance

07.09.2004


Researchers from Rockefeller University, New York, have developed a new way of killing dangerous bacteria like the ones which cause anthrax and pneumonia, using products from a virus, according to new research presented today (Tuesday, 07 September 2004) at the Society for General Microbiology’s 155th Meeting at Trinity College Dublin.



The new bug-smashing technique uses the bacteria’s own natural enemies, tiny viruses called bacteriophages (or phages), which can infect bacterial cells. The phages make thousands of copies of themselves inside infected bacteria, but then need to dissolve the bacteria’s cell wall to get out and infect other bacterial cells.

“We realised that bacteria have no effective natural defences against these phages once they have been infected,” says Professor Vincent Fischetti of Rockefeller University. “After infection, the phages make an enzyme to dissolve the bacterial cell walls for release and we found that we could use the same enzyme to attack and kill the disease bacteria responsible for pneumonia, anthrax or strep throat.”


The enzymes work on contact, killing the disease bacteria instantly, but without harming other friendly types of bacteria. This offers huge advantages over conventional antibiotics, which indiscriminately kill most bacteria, including our useful ones, and which can lead to disease resistance building up if used too frequently.

“About half of us normally carry disease bacteria in our nose or throat, but without symptoms, which form the only reservoir for these organisms in the environment, allowing them to travel from person to person until they are able to cause infection in the right individual,” says Prof Fischetti. “Removing these bacteria from people in hospitals, day care centres and nursing homes could have a major impact on disease outbreaks amongst vulnerable people in these settings.”

The novel technique offers medical workers an opportunity to control disease bacteria in a completely new way. So far no resistance has been found to the enzymes, but if it were to occur it would be very rare, much rarer than antibiotic resistance. The enzymes successfully kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are causing a major problem in hospitals and nursing homes.

“We now have enzymes that kill all bacteria of a particular type, called Gram-positive bacteria, of the major disease-causing organisms, including bacteria for strep throat, pneumonia, neonatal meningitis, endocarditis and anthrax,” says Prof Fischetti. “Since we have never found any resistance to the enzymes, they can be used safely, long term, even to kill recurrent infections.”

In addition, the scientists are currently carrying out clinical trials of an enzyme which can specifically kill anthrax in the blood. This could be used during a terrorist attack or emergency to save the lives of exposed individuals.

Faye Jones | alfa
Further information:
http://www.sgm.ac.uk

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>