Researchers at the University of British Columbia have successfully prevented drug-resistant bacteria from forming abscesses using a peptide, which worked by disrupting the bacteria’s stress response. Abscesses are responsible for 3.2 million emergency room visits every year in the United States, and standard treatment for abscesses involves cutting out the infected tissue or draining it.
Senior author Bob Hancock, a professor in UBC’s Department of Microbiology, clarified that the peptide offers a new strategy because its mechanism is completely different from every known antibiotic. Professor Hancock and his colleagues discovered that bacteria in abscesses are in a stress-triggered growth state. Using a synthetic peptide known as DJK-5, they were able to interfere with the bacteria’s stress response and heal abscesses in mice. The peptide was effective against two classes of bacteria, known as gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, whose different cell wall structures make them susceptible to different antibiotics. Professor Hancock hopes to begin clinical trials on human infections within a year.
The study, “Bacterial abscess formation is controlled by the stringent stress response and can be targeted therapeutically,” appears online in EBioMedicine.
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