Pathogenic bacteria without their virulent factors could be rendered harmless and eliminated by the human immune system. That’s the goal that a group of researchers have been striving for, and they recently managed to block the Brucella bacteria from bonding with its host.
The scientists published their findings in the journal Chemistry & Biology. Infectious diseases caused by pathogenic bacteria have been problematic, but antibiotics have been able to keep them in check. Recently, there have been worrying developments in certain pathogens, such as the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae that causes gonorrhea, which no longer responds to some antibiotics.
Bacteria have the capacity to develop a resistance to antibiotics soon after they are first introduced. They transfer this capacity to their offspring and to other bacteria. Superbugs are resistant to all but a few antibiotics. Some are even resistant to all.
Baron’s team discovered small molecules that target proteins in a biological system required for many bacteria to be harmful. They have been partly successful in unraveling the bindings of the molecules that target a protein known as VirB8, a key part of the virulence mechanism of Brucella.
The benefits of such a treatment would be that bacteria would be rendered harmless and they could not evolve a resistance to this. They would reside harmlessly in our gut. Anti-virulence drugs still have to be proven effective in clinical trials before the battle could be won.
Reference: “Identification of the Binding Site of Brucella VirB8 Interaction Inhibitors” by Mark A. Smith, Mathieu Coinçon, Athanasios Paschos, Benoit Jolicoeur, Pierre Lavallée, Jurgen Sygusch and Christian Baron, 23 August 2012, Chemistry & Biology.
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