Breakthrough in fight against cystic fibrosis bacteria
Published 08/08/2014 | 02:30
Irish scientists have made huge advances in how to tackle bacteria that is usually associated with cystic fibrosis.
Researchers at Trinity College have used "x-ray crystallography techniques" to create a blueprint map of the behaviour of 'Pseudomonas aeruginosa', a common and harmful type of bacteria.
It is hoped that this plan of the microbe's structure will be used to design specific medicines which will "throw spanners in the bacterial works and prevent a potentially deadly component from being shipped out".
'Pseudomonas aeruginosa' is described by the scientists as a "resilient and adaptable species of bacteria" which can cause harm when it infects "damaged tissue".
This then overpowers patients whose immune response is already compromised in some form. The researchers said that this bacteria is particularly linked to cystic fibrosis, as well as playing a part in cross-infection cases in hospitals due to its ability to "thrive on moist surfaces".
The research team at the Dublin university said that a "biofilm" which protects the bacteria is "hard to attack". And, they now hope to fight this by blocking a component of it - 'alginate' - which is emitted from a pore.
This is being assisted be creation of a computer simulation of the process from English scientists.
"If we can knock out the functioning of this pore, we might be able to stop alginate being added to the troublesome biofilm. Blocking the release of this virulence factor is likely to weaken the bacterium, which should make it more susceptible to host defences," Professor Martin Caffrey, a corresponding author of the paper, said.