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Breakthrough against hospital superbug, klebsiella pneumonia

Date:
June 11, 2015
Source:
Queen's University Belfast
Summary:
Researchers have developed a cutting-edge new medical therapy that could protect hospital patients against a lethal superbug.
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Team leader, Professor Jose Bengoechea, from the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen's is shown.
Credit: Queen's University Belfast

Researchers at Queen's University Belfast have developed a cutting-edge new medical therapy that could protect UK hospital patients against a lethal superbug.

The new treatment, which uses a molecule called an inhibitor to prevent the hospital superbug Klebsiella pneumonia from blocking the body's natural defences, has the potential to save thousands of lives in the UK each year. Klebsiella, which has mortality rates of 25-60%, can cause bladder infections and pneumonia and is resistant to all major antibiotics.

The research team, from the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen's, found that Klebsiella can survive inside white blood cells called 'macrophages', which are meant to protect the human body from infection. The superbug takes over a protein in the blood cell called 'Akt', paralyzing the cell and making it the perfect shelter to avoid being killed by antibiotics.

The team showed that by treating the cell with the inhibitor -- which stops 'Akt' protein from working -- the blood cell is once again capable of killing Klebsiella and the infection can be completely eliminated.

Team leader, Professor Jose Bengoechea, from the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen's, said: "The global problem of antimicrobial resistance is fast becoming one of the major health issues of modern times. Of particular concern is the mounting prevalence of infections caused by Klebsiella pneumonia which has been identified as an urgent threat to human health by the UK government and the World Health Organisation due to extremely drug resistant strains.

"Our research has helped us gain a better understanding of the vulnerable pathways of human defences, meaning we have been able to develop a potentially ground-breaking new therapy that will block the bug and stop it in its tracks. This is the latest example of the commitment of researchers and staff at Queen's to advancing knowledge and achieving excellence for the benefit of society."

The research team at Queen's plan to carry out pre-clinical trials over the next months to further confirm their findings and move the therapy forward into human clinical trials.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Queen's University Belfast. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Victoria Cano, Catalina March, Jose Luis Insua, Nacho Aguiló, Enrique Llobet, David Moranta, Verónica Regueiro, Gerard P Brennan, Maria Isabel Millán-Lou, Carlos Martín, Junkal Garmendia, José A. Bengoechea. Klebsiella pneumoniaesurvives within macrophages by avoiding delivery to lysosomes. Cellular Microbiology, 2015; DOI: 10.1111/cmi.12466

Cite This Page:

Queen's University Belfast. "Breakthrough against hospital superbug, klebsiella pneumonia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 June 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150611194112.htm>.
Queen's University Belfast. (2015, June 11). Breakthrough against hospital superbug, klebsiella pneumonia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 25, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150611194112.htm
Queen's University Belfast. "Breakthrough against hospital superbug, klebsiella pneumonia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150611194112.htm (accessed May 25, 2017).

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