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News

Putting a stop to antibiotic resistance with new drugs from seaweed

Society For General Microbiology : 07 January, 2002  (Company News)
Scientists have found a new way to prevent life-threatening infections not by killing the bacteria but by preventing them from talking to each other, according to research published today in the journal Microbiology. 'We've found that a group of chemicals called furanones can prevent the build up of communities of bacteria on surfaces such as surgical implants and in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients,' says Dr Michael Givskov of the Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen.
Scientists have found a new way to prevent life-threatening infections not by killing the bacteria but by preventing them from talking to each other, according to research published today in the journal Microbiology.

'We've found that a group of chemicals called furanones can prevent the build up of communities of bacteria on surfaces such as surgical implants and in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients,' says Dr Michael Givskov of the Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen.

These communities called biofilms are formed after invading bacteria signal to each other to settle down and defend themselves. Biofilm bacteria are protected by a slimy coating, which prevents antibiotics from clearing the infection, and also leads to a breeding ground for antibiotic resistant strains.

Dr Givskov says, 'We have produced a synthetic furanone compound with similarity to one produced by the marine alga Delisea pulchra, which specifically blocks the signalling mechanism in the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa without affecting growth, thus removing selection pressure to create resistant microbes.'

'P. aeruginosa biofilms cause serious infections in CF patients. We've shown in the lab that our synthetic furanone can not only prevent biofilms growing and enhance detachment of bacteria from existing biofilms but they also reduce the production of important virulence factors, which allow the bacteria to cause disease,' continues Dr Givskov.

Dr Givskov concludes, 'We hope that such compounds can be used in the future as an early prophylactic treatment for young cystic fibrosis sufferers to prevent the formation of damaging biofilms in the lung, thus reducing the severity of infection.'
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