Friday 16 November 2018

Superbugs could be defeated by tricking bacteria with metal

 

Early studies in the US have shown that a single dose of the gallium molecule cured mice of lethal lung infections. Photo: Stock Image
Early studies in the US have shown that a single dose of the gallium molecule cured mice of lethal lung infections. Photo: Stock Image

John von Radowitz

Tricking bacteria to consume a "Trojan horse" metal that looks like food but disrupts their ability to reproduce may be a way to defeat superbugs, say scientists.

Early studies in the US have shown that a single dose of the gallium molecule cured mice of lethal lung infections.

In human patients with cystic fibrosis, the new treatment was shown to improve lung function.

Gallium is a metal similar to iron, a critical nutrient for bacteria - but instead of nourishing the bugs, it harms them.

Professor Bradley Britigan, a researcher from the University of Nebraska, said: "Gallium disrupts machinery that bacteria use to make new DNA, and without this the bacteria can't multiply.

"This and other essential processes require iron, and gallium is a monkey wrench that shuts the system down."

The study was reported in the journal 'Science Translational Medicine'.

Irish Independent

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