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Using Predatory Bacteria To Fight Superbugs

Antibiotics have been used over the past 70 years to treat patients suffering from infectious diseases. These drugs have greatly reduced illnesses and deaths. However, over the years, these drugs have been widely used and infectious organisms have adapted, making the drugs less effective. The rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria has dramatically increased. This poses a serious public health problem for the future. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) and multi-drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MDR-TB) cannot be controlled or killed by antibiotics. Additionally, a growing number of infections such as pneumonia and gonorrhea are becoming harder to treat. Antibiotic resistance leads to increased medical costs, longer hospital stays and increased mortality. Without preventative action and control against antibiotic resistance, common infections and minor injuries will no longer be treatable.

A recent study showed a dose of Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus acted like a living antibiotic to fight off a lethal infection in zebrafish. Previously, the bacterium has been shown to kill a range of bacteria including E. coli and Salmonella. The fast-swimming bacterium can enter other bacteria where it consumes the host and then replicates. Researchers tested this unusual approach on the Shigella bacteria that affects over 160 million people each year through contaminated food. The predatory bacteria caused the population of Shigella to collapse 4,000-fold. Additional studies examined infected fish larvae that were also exposed to B. bacteriovorus that increased the survival rate to 60%.

The research suggests that this unusual approach may be useful in treating infected wounds, as the predatory bacteria could be easily injected into the site. Interestingly, no side effects to excessive exposure to the bacterium have been identified. Successful antibacterial therapy can be achieved with the host immune system and the predatory bacterium working together. Further safety testing is needed before using the bacteria therapeutically, but it is an innovative approach in the fight against drug resistant infections.

For more information: http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(16)31152-6

Enzo Life Sciences provides a wide variety of products for your Immunology and Personal Care research needs. We provide a comprehensive portfolio of products to detect and modulate the complex processes of immunological disease. Our product portfolio provides assays and reagents for all phases of personal care product development to facilitate rapid discovery and enhanced testing for safety, toxicity and efficacy. We offer a range of kits and probes for detecting a range of viruses including the AMPIPROBE® HCV assay kit. This is a quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) assay for the quantitative detection of human hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA in plasma or serum.

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