How a bacteria digests a sugar can be key to new treatments

bacteria
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The severity of a common and often lethal type of bacteria depends on its ability to process a type of sugar, research from the University of Adelaide reveals.

Streptococcus pneumoniae causes diseases of the lungs, blood, ear and brain, killing an estimated one million people every year. Moreover S. pneumoniae causes otitis media (infection of the middle ear), which devastates Aboriginal populations. It also rapidly develops resistance to antibiotics, making it challenging to treat.

The death toll of antibiotic resistant is predicted to rise to more than 10 million people by 2050.

Research performed by Vikrant Minhas has discovered that a strain of the bacteria that processes a sugar known as raffinose was responsible for causing deadly lung disease.

However, a closely related strain that was unable to utilize the sugar caused much less disease in the ear.

Using a , Vikrant and colleagues discovered that when the raffinose-regulating gene in the bacteria was swapped, the disease progressions also changed.

"Fundamental knowledge such as this, explaining how bacteria spread around the body, is crucial if we are to replace with other types of life-saving treatments," says Vikrant.


Explore further

Five of the scariest antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the past five years

More information: Vikrant Minhas et al. Capacity To Utilize Raffinose Dictates Pneumococcal Disease Phenotype, mBio (2019). DOI: 10.1128/mBio.02596-18
Journal information: mBio

Provided by Science in Public
Citation: How a bacteria digests a sugar can be key to new treatments (2019, December 6) retrieved 23 January 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2019-12-bacteria-digests-sugar-key-treatments.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
3 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments