Stealth Drug Fights Resistant Bacteria
The lack of new antibiotics is among the most critical challenges facing medicine. Researchers have been on the hunt for new drugs to combat “superbugs” that cannot be penetrated by current antibiotics.
Rather than looking for drugs that forcibly penetrate bacteria, researchers tried a new approach: tricking bacteria into taking up a molecule that looks like food, but wreaks havoc once inside. A study of this approach shows initial success in mice and humans.
The work is described in the Sept. 26, 2018, issue of Science Translational Medicine. The two primary investigators, Pradeep Singh and Christopher Goss, are faculty members at the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine.
Their study focused on one superbug, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which causes infection in the lungs, urinary tract, wounds and elsewhere. It is a particular problem in patients whose ability to fight infection is impaired because of illnesses such as cystic fibrosis, cancer and AIDS.
The researchers studied gallium because it is a metal similar to iron, a critical nutrient for bacteria during infection.
“The body goes to great lengths to keep iron away from bacteria, and infecting organisms crank up special systems to import iron and steal it from the host,” said Singh, the senior author and a UW professor of microbiology and medicine.
Goss, a UW professor of medicine and pediatrics and the paper’s first author, described gallium as a Trojan horse. “Gallium not only fails to nourish bacteria as iron would, it actually harms them.”
Source: Infection Control Today