Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bacteria-killing Enzyme Cures Mice With Fatal Pneumonia

Date:
March 11, 2009
Source:
Rockefeller University
Summary:
Before the advent of antibiotics, pneumonia claimed so many lives -- and was so feared -- that it was called the "captain of the ship of death." Now, at a time when the new antibiotics have proved futile against resistant strains of bacteria, researchers are using a different tactic to keep this ship at bay. Instead of using synthetic weapons, they are using nature's: an enzyme that has proved so effective at killing Streptococcus pneumoniae that it has been put on the front lines in the battle against infectious disease.

Breathing basics. Compared to normal lung tissue (top), damaged lung tissue (middle) caused by pneumococcal bacteria heals just 12 hours after mice receive a dose of the phage enzyme Cpl-1 (bottom).
Credit: Image courtesy of Rockefeller University

Before the advent of antibiotics, pneumonia claimed so many lives — and was so feared — that it was called the “captain of the ship of death.” Now, at a time when the new antibiotics have proved futile against resistant strains of bacteria, researchers at Rockefeller University are using a different tactic to keep this ship at bay.

Instead of using synthetic weapons, they are using nature’s: an enzyme that has proved so effective at killing Streptococcus pneumoniae that it has been put on the front lines in the battle against infectious disease.

“The past decade has seen S. pneumoniae evolve new resistance mechanisms much more quickly than scientists have been able to develop antibiotics to combat them,” says Vincent A. Fischetti, head of the Laboratory of Bacterial Pathogenesis and Immunology. “This enzyme represents one of the most promising therapeutic options to stop this arms race between S. pneumoniae and humans with a final blow.”

According to some estimates, 5 to 10 percent of healthy adults and 15 to 40 percent of healthy children are carriers of S. pneumoniae, which normally resides in the nose. If the immune system doesn’t keep these bacteria in check or an upper respiratory infection occurs, they can start to multiply and travel to different organs such as the lungs (causing pneumonia), brain (meningitis) or ears (otitis media), with sometimes fatal consequences. The prognosis is particularly bad in children and the elderly: In 2004 alone, 40 percent of children and older adults who developed pneumonia due to S. pneumoniae died of the disease.

The new research, which appears in the February issue of Critical Care Medicine, reveals that the enzyme Cpl-1, which is produced by bacteria-infecting viruses called bacteriophages, can successfully reach lung tissue in mice and reverse the symptoms of severe pneumococcal pneumonia. “Administering drugs through the blood is an effective way of treating disease, but not all drugs can remain active in that environment,” says Fischetti. His team not only shows that Cpl-1 can make the trek but that it is also highly effective when it reaches its destination.

In their work, Fischetti and his German colleagues gave mice with pneumococcal pneumonia a dose of Cpl-1 or the antibiotic amoxicillin for comparison either 24 or 48 hours after establishment of pneumonia, and every 12 hours thereafter. Given at 24 hours, Cpl-1 eliminated the infection in 100 percent of the mice, compared to 85 percent with the antibiotic. Given at 48 hours, Cpl-1 cured fewer mice than amoxicillin, 40 percent versus 70 percent. Furthermore, in mice treated with multiple doses of Cp1-1 starting at 24 hours, the scientists observed that damage to the mice’s lung tissue was completely reversed within 12 hours. When treatment began after 48 hours, the mice that survived showed no signs of tissue damage or difficulty in breathing. The results were similar in surviving animals treated with amoxicillin.

This isn’t the first time that the Fischetti lab has shown that Cpl-1 targets and exclusively kills S. pneumoniae in mice. In earlier work, Fischetti and his colleagues showed that when the enzyme reaches the brain of mice that develop drug-resistant meningitis, it completely reverses the symptoms of disease. The lab has also shown that when Cpl-1 travels through the blood, it completely clears up S. pneumoniae secondary ear infections triggered by influenza.

“This technology is an attractive alternative to traditional antibiotics,” says Fischetti. “And the more animal experiments we perform, we are finding that these enzymes can travel throughout the body to clear up potentially fatal infections.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rockefeller University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Witzenrath et al. Systemic use of the endolysin Cpl-1 rescues mice with fatal pneumococcal pneumonia*. Critical Care Medicine, 2009; 37 (2): 642 DOI: 10.1097/CCM.0b013e31819586a6

Cite This Page:

Rockefeller University. "Bacteria-killing Enzyme Cures Mice With Fatal Pneumonia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302221316.htm>.
Rockefeller University. (2009, March 11). Bacteria-killing Enzyme Cures Mice With Fatal Pneumonia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302221316.htm
Rockefeller University. "Bacteria-killing Enzyme Cures Mice With Fatal Pneumonia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302221316.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins