Scientists detect chink in virulent stomach bug’s armour

October 3rd, 2009 - 3:36 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 3 (IANS) Scientists have detected a crack in the armour of the Helicobacter pylori, a common microbe that infects the stomachs of one-sixth of the world’s population, causing gastritis and ulcers.
They identified a group of substances that block a key chemical pathway that the bacteria need for survival. Their study could lead to new, more effective antibiotics to fight these hard-to-treat microbes.

Javier Sancho, biologist at the University of Zaragoza, Spain, and colleagues note in the new study that Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria infect the stomach lining.

Treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics can cure H. pylori infections. However, an estimated one billion people remain infected worldwide because of the cost of existing antibiotics and the emergence of antibiotic resistant strains of the bacteria, the researchers say.

The scientists know from past research that blocking flavodoxin, a key protein that H. pylori needs for survival, could be the key to developing narrow-spectrum antibiotics that specifically target H. pylori.

Sancho’s team screened 10,000 chemicals for their ability to block flavodoxin and identified four that showed promise. They then showed that three of the four substances killed H. pylori in cell cultures and did not have any apparent toxic effects in lab animals.

“These new inhibitors constitute promising candidates to develop new specific antibiotics against H. pylori,” the study states, according to a Zaragoza release.

These findings are slated for publication in the Oct 16 issue of American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Biology.

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