No hiding place for infecting bacteria

Scientists in Colorado have discovered a new approach to prevent bacterial infections from taking hold. Writing in the Journal of Medical Microbiology, Dr Quinn Parks and colleagues describe how they used enzymes against products of the body’s own defence cells to prevent Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria from building a protective biofilm which enables them to avoid both the body’s immune mechanisms and antibiotics.

When the body’s defence cells, called neutrophils, attack P. aeruginosa, the cell contents – including a protein called F-actin and the cell’s DNA – are released. P. aeruginosa uses these cell proteins as a scaffold to build a protective biofilm making these infections very difficult to treat. P. aeruginosa biofilms cause disease in burns, wounds, contact lens infections and are particularly prevalent in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients.

“We specifically targeted the F-actin protein with a negatively charged peptide, and the DNA with the enzyme DNase, which both prevented and disrupted the formation of P. aeruginosa biofilms in the presence of human neutrophils.” said Dr Parks. “These results suggest a new combined therapeutic strategy for the treatment of P. aeruginosa infections.


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