New compound combats drug-resistant bacteria

Sep 27, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Yale scientists using bits of material from the human immune system have developed a compound that can neutralize or kill several varieties of drug-resistant and other dangerous bacteria. Drug-resistant bacteria are an increasing risk to the health of the world's population. The new compound's ability to kill bacteria in the lab also is promising as a new treatment for infectious diseases.

"The compound is effective in concentrations currently used in drugs and hopefully can be used to combat as well as drug-resistant organisms," said Sidney Altman, Sterling Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, professor of chemistry, Nobel laureate and senior author of the study.

The research is published the week of Sept. 26 in the .

Altman's lab was attempting to improve upon a new method of suppressing the expression of genes responsible for — i.e., the disease-causing properties — in bacteria.  The method involves using pieces of the RNA that attach to the RNA coded for genes within the cell that are responsible for pathogenesis. The resulting complex, after being exposed to an enzyme inside the cells, then turns off the expression of genes responsible for bacterial survival.

Working in cell culture, the Yale scientists found that they could use a new compound based on a peptide from a human T cell facilitates to deliver this RNA inside many varieties of bacterial cells.  The new compound not only makes bacterial strains more sensitive to existing drugs but also can kill bacteria by targeting genes crucial to cellular survival. The method is 10 to 100 times more effective in targeting bacteria than existing compounds, the scientists estimate.

 "We think this compound will be effective in mice and can go from mice to humans in the future," Altman said.

With Thomas R. Cech, Altman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1989 for discovery of the catalytic properties of RNA.

Explore further: Sculpting a cell's backside: New protein found to help cells move from behind

Related Stories

Recommended for you

C. difficile needs iron, but too much is hazardous

14 hours ago

Those bacteria that require iron walk a tightrope. Iron is essential for their growth, but too much iron can damage DNA and enzymes through oxidation. Therefore, bacteria have machinery to maintain their ...

Researchers discover strong break on cell division

14 hours ago

The protein complex SWI/SNF that loosens tightly wrapped up DNA is also a strong inhibitor of cell division, at the time that cells take on specialized functions. Professor Sander van den Heuvel and PhD researcher ...

A checkpoint enzyme for flawless cell division

14 hours ago

The error-free distribution of genetic material during cell division is important for preventing the development of tumor cells. Prof. Erich Nigg's research group at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, has ...

Together bacteria invade antibiotic landscapes

14 hours ago

Antibiotics kill bacteria – or at least they are supposed to, although unfortunately this does not always result in a cure. Scientists at TU Delft's Kavli Institute of Nanoscience have discovered that bacteria ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Nanobanano
not rated yet Sep 27, 2011
Unfortunately, most research in the area of drug resistant bacteria gets buried...

It's already been two years since I read an article on hear about combining Amoxicillin and Lysine(I think, or some other protien of that nature,) in a drug that was killing MRSA in laboratory experiments. Haven't heard anything about it since though.

The "catch" was that they couldn't figure out how to mass produce the Lysine (or whatever it was).

The other problem with it is there is no financial incentive for the medical industry to actually "cure" disease. If they irradicated Staph, including MRSA along with Strep, then a huge, huge amount of the pharmacy, clinic, ER, and other hospital income would be erased over night...a significant portion of the medical industry would probably go out of business.

So what I expect from this research is about the same. Either it will work, or it won't, and if it does work it will get buried, or reserved only for the filthy rich and government VIPs...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.