Scientists have found a “molecular Achilles heel” in the organism that causes pneumonia, providing a target for the development of a new class of antibiotics that could eventually eradicate the disease. Their report is scheduled to appear in the Dec. 28 edition of Biochemistry, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.
“Streptococcus pneumoniae places an enormous burden on the welfare of humanity,” says Thomas Leyh, Ph.D., a professor of biochemistry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and lead author of the paper. “Worldwide, the organism takes the lives of some 3,700 people daily, the majority of whom are children below the age of five.”
Decades of antibiotic use have produced drug-resistant strains of S. pneumoniae that are capable of evading even our so-called “last-line-of-defense” antibiotics, such as vancomycin. In the United States alone, the roughly 7 million annual cases of inner ear infections caused by this organism saddle the U.S. heath care system with an estimated $5 billion burden, Leyh says.
Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!
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