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Elham AbolFateh

Health

New drug uses immune system to wipe out deadly bacteria

Thursday 05/July/2018 - 11:02 PM
Sada El Balad
Edited by Ahmed Moamar
Scientists have created a new drug that hunts down and eliminates deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria by engaging the body’s natural defences، as the Guardian said.
Researchers at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania fused part of an existing antibiotic with a molecule that attracts antibodies unleashed by the immune system to fight invaders such as bacteria.
The “immunobiotic” targets a range of bacteria responsible for diseases such as pneumonia and food poisoning، including those that often become resistant to last-resort antibiotics.
“The inspiration came mostly from the recent success of cancer immunotherapy،” said Marcos Pires، who led the study.
Cancer immunotherapy، which Pires described as “game-changing” for patients، also harnesses the power of the immune system، but to destroy cancer cells rather than bacteria. The team wanted to find out whether the immune system could be used to help antibiotics work more efficiently.
“We anticipate the resistance would be slower to develop because of the double mode of activity – both traditional antimicrobial activity and the immunotherapy،” Pires said. “It should provide fewer mechanisms to escape the actions of our agents.”
Pires and his team tested the new compound on a range of bacteria declared by the World Health Organization as high-priority because there are so few drugs that work against them. Among them were Pseudomonas aeruginosa، a common cause of pneumonia in cancer patients، burns victims and people with cystic fibrosis.
Tests on nematode worms infected with Pseudomonas showed that the drug successfully targeted and wiped out the bacteria.
By sticking to the bacteria، the drug can inflict direct damage while acting like a beacon for antibodies that arrive en masse to finish the job. In the body، bacteria that become coated with antibodies get destroyed by white blood cells.
The researchers based their compound on an existing last-resort antibiotic called polymyxin، which damages the outer surface of bacterial cells، making them burst and die. Growing evidence suggests that this last line of antibiotic defence is under threat، meaning there is an urgent need for new antibacterials.

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