Science News
from research organizations

New weapon for hard-to-treat bacterial infections

Date:
September 30, 2016
Source:
University of British Columbia
Summary:
Health workers may soon have a new weapon in the fight against abscesses -- difficult-to-treat bacterial infections that lead to millions of emergency-room visits every year. Researchers successfully prevented drug-resistant bacteria from forming abscesses, or painful pus-filled lesions, using a peptide, or mini-protein. The peptide worked by disrupting the bacteria's stress response.
Share:
FULL STORY

Health workers may soon have a new weapon in the fight against abscesses -- difficult-to-treat bacterial infections that lead to millions of emergency-room visits every year.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia successfully prevented drug-resistant bacteria from forming abscesses, or painful pus-filled lesions, using a peptide, or mini-protein. The peptide worked by disrupting the bacteria's stress response.

Abscesses are bacterial-induced lesions that are responsible for 3.2 million emergency room visits every year in the United States. Because antibiotics seldom work on them, standard treatment for abscesses involves cutting out the infected tissue or draining it.

"Abscesses can occur almost anywhere in the body, and antibiotics aren't usually effective on them," said senior author Bob Hancock, a professor in UBC's department of microbiology, and senior author of the study published in EBioMedicine. "Our peptide offers a new strategy, because its mechanism is completely different from every known antibiotic."

Hancock and his colleagues discovered that bacteria in abscesses are in a stress-triggered growth state. Using a synthetic peptide known as DJK-5, they were able to interfere with the bacteria's stress response and heal abscesses in mice. The peptide was effective against two classes of bacteria, known as Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, whose different cell-wall structures make them susceptible to different antibiotics.

"We've shown that all of the superbugs are susceptible to this peptide when under stress," said Hancock. "We also showed that it actually works even better in the presence of antibiotics. By combining antibiotics with the peptide there is a much lower chance of getting resistance, because you've got two agents that act in different ways."

Previous research by Hancock showed how a peptide could be used to prevent bacteria forming biofilms on surfaces of the body. This latest research demonstrated their ability to work on a completely different type of infection as well.

Hancock said he hopes to begin clinical trials on human infections within a year.

"Bacterial Abscess Formation Is Controlled by the Stringent Stress Response and Can Be Targeted Therapeutically" appears online in EBioMedicine.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of British Columbia. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sarah C. Mansour, Daniel Pletzer, César de la Fuente-Núñez, Paul Kim, Gordon Y.C. Cheung, Hwang-Soo Joo, Michael Otto, Robert E.W. Hancock. Bacterial Abscess Formation Is Controlled by the Stringent Stress Response and Can Be Targeted Therapeutically. EBioMedicine, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.09.015

Cite This Page:

University of British Columbia. "New weapon for hard-to-treat bacterial infections." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 September 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160930145809.htm>.
University of British Columbia. (2016, September 30). New weapon for hard-to-treat bacterial infections. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 24, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160930145809.htm
University of British Columbia. "New weapon for hard-to-treat bacterial infections." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160930145809.htm (accessed May 24, 2017).

RELATED STORIES