Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Silencing bacteria could stop infections and save lives

07.09.2004


Stopping bacteria from talking to each other could help prevent serious infections say scientists from Aberdeen, in new research presented Monday, 06 September 2004 at the Society for General Microbiology’s 155th Meeting at Trinity College Dublin.



“It is war out there. Bacteria need to wait until there are enough of them to attack us, otherwise they just get beaten off by our skin, the antibodies which patrol our blood, and our other defences,” says Professor Andrew Porter from Aberdeen University spin-out company Haptogen. “They use tiny molecules called haptens to talk to each other, letting each other know how many of them there are, much in the same way that we can smell things to sense what is going on in the world around us.”

“If we can block the actions of the haptens then we can fool the bacteria into thinking that there aren’t enough of them to attack us,” says Prof Porter. “The problem is that haptens are such tiny molecules that they don’t trigger our normal immune defences - they are so small they are invisible to our early warning radar.”


Infectious diseases are major killers - second only to heart diseases, infections cause a quarter of all the deaths in the world. Amongst other groups intensive care patients, cystic fibrosis patients and people suffering severe burns are particularly vulnerable. Now increases in world trade and travel mean that infectious diseases and antimicrobial-resistant strains of bacteria can spread rapidly between continents. Drug resistance, which is slow to reverse, costs lives, livelihoods and money, and threatens to undermine the effectiveness of many global health programmes.

The scientists believe that by targeting their signalling molecules instead of the bacteria themselves, they can avoid building up drug-resistant strains of bacteria. Haptens are used by bacteria to exchange information about numbers of bacteria, and to coordinate changes in their virulence just before they attack. Changing to their more dangerous state is costly for bacteria, and makes them more vulnerable to counter attack - in the same way that coming out from a defensive bunker to fire a weapon makes soldiers more vulnerable to enemy fire.

“If we can find a way of encouraging our bodies to produce antibodies which can wipe out these hapten signals, we can block the bacteria’s sensing and monitoring systems,” says Prof Porter. “Our early results suggest that we can make effective antibodies that not only stop the bacteria becoming more dangerous, they confuse communication so much that the bacteria commit suicide in their millions.”

The results so far from pre-clinical studies suggest that they have already found important prototype antibodies against the haptens. These can block the cell-to-cell signalling of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium which particularly attacks the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients, transplant recipients and burns victims, killing one in three people with severe infections. This high death rate is partly due to the resistance that Pseudomonas bacteria have already built up to current antibiotics.

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

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Not of Divided Mind
19.01.2017 | Hertie-Institut für klinische Hirnforschung (HIH)

nachricht CRISPR meets single-cell sequencing in new screening method
19.01.2017 | CeMM Forschungszentrum für Molekulare Medizin der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland

19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Not of Divided Mind

19.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Molecule flash mob

19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>