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

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Monitoring biodiversity with sound: how machines can enrich our knowledge
18.06.2019 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

nachricht Uncovering hidden protein structures
18.06.2019 | Universität Konstanz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: The hidden structure of the periodic system

The well-known representation of chemical elements is just one example of how objects can be arranged and classified

The periodic table of elements that most chemistry books depict is only one special case. This tabular overview of the chemical elements, which goes back to...

Im Focus: MPSD team discovers light-induced ferroelectricity in strontium titanate

Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.

Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...

Im Focus: Determining the Earth’s gravity field more accurately than ever before

Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.

The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...

Im Focus: Tube anemone has the largest animal mitochondrial genome ever sequenced

Discovery by Brazilian and US researchers could change the classification of two species, which appear more akin to jellyfish than was thought.

The tube anemone Isarachnanthus nocturnus is only 15 cm long but has the largest mitochondrial genome of any animal sequenced to date, with 80,923 base pairs....

Im Focus: Tiny light box opens new doors into the nanoworld

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have discovered a completely new way of capturing, amplifying and linking light to matter at the nanolevel. Using a tiny box, built from stacked atomically thin material, they have succeeded in creating a type of feedback loop in which light and matter become one. The discovery, which was recently published in Nature Nanotechnology, opens up new possibilities in the world of nanophotonics.

Photonics is concerned with various means of using light. Fibre-optic communication is an example of photonics, as is the technology behind photodetectors and...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Uncovering hidden protein structures

18.06.2019 | Life Sciences

Monitoring biodiversity with sound: how machines can enrich our knowledge

18.06.2019 | Life Sciences

Schizophrenia: Adolescence is the game-changer

18.06.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>