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Could an HIV drug beat strep throat, flesh-eating bacteria?

Date:
February 25, 2015
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
With antibiotic resistance on the rise, scientists are looking for innovative ways to combat bacterial infections. The pathogen that causes conditions from strep throat to flesh-eating disease is among them, but scientists have now found a tool that could help them fight it: a drug approved to treat HIV. Their work could someday lead to new treatments.
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The fight against bacteria that cause strep throat and other illnesses could get help from an HIV drug.
Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

With antibiotic resistance on the rise, scientists are looking for innovative ways to combat bacterial infections. The pathogen that causes conditions from strep throat to flesh-eating disease is among them, but scientists have now found a tool that could help them fight it: a drug approved to treat HIV. Their work, appearing in the journal ACS Chemical Biology, could someday lead to new treatments.

Douglas A. Mitchell and colleagues point out that Streptococcus pyogenes is responsible for more than 600 million illnesses and 500,000 deaths globally every year. A major factor in the pathogen's ability to cause disease is its production of a toxin called streptolysin S, or SLS. If scientists could figure out a way to jam the bacterial machinery that makes the compound, they could develop new therapies to fight the pathogen and slow the spread of antibiotic resistance. But not much is known about how S. pyogenes makes SLS. Mitchell's team wanted to start filling in the blanks.

The researchers turned to an HIV drug called nelfinavir. Although the drug's target is an HIV protein, it is also known to incidentally block a key enzyme in patients. That enzyme is related to one in S. pyogenes that is critical for producing SLS. The scientists made several nelfinavir-like compounds that stopped the bacteria from making the toxin in lab tests. They conclude that the drug and its variants could help future efforts to understand how the deadly bacteria works and how to stop it.

The authors acknowledge funding from the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tucker Maxson, Caitlin D. Deane, Evelyn M. Molloy, Courtney L. Cox, Andrew L. Markley, Shaun W. Lee, Douglas A. Mitchell. HIV Protease Inhibitors Block Streptolysin S Production. ACS Chemical Biology, 2015; 150220153529003 DOI: 10.1021/cb500843r

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American Chemical Society. "Could an HIV drug beat strep throat, flesh-eating bacteria?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 February 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150225114327.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2015, February 25). Could an HIV drug beat strep throat, flesh-eating bacteria?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150225114327.htm
American Chemical Society. "Could an HIV drug beat strep throat, flesh-eating bacteria?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150225114327.htm (accessed May 26, 2017).

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