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Marine Bacteria Fight Tough Infections

Aggressive infections are a growing health problem all over the world. The development of resistant bacteria is rampant and in the United States, resistant staphylococci cause more deaths than AIDS on an annual basis. Now researchers from the University of Copenhagen and the Technical University of Denmarare studying a new form of treatment based on marine bacteria. The results have been published in the journal PLOS ONE.

A release from the university notes that staphylococcihave been a big problem for hospitals all over the world since the 1940s. For many years, the pharmaceutical industry has been able to develop new antibiotics to keep up with the emergence of the aggressive bacteria. However, from 1970 to 2000 virtually no new antibiotics came on the market. Staphylococci are gaining resistance and treatment options are few. In short, doctors have been set back to the time before penicillin was mass produced.

The Da ish researchers focused focus on a new form of treatment called antivirulence therapy based on marine bacteria producing staphylococcus inhibiting compounds.

The release quotes Anita Nielsen, PhD as saying, "The marine compounds effectively inhibit the ability of staphylococci to form toxins and camouflage proteins that prevent our immune system from reacting to an infection. At the same time, marine compounds appear to paralyze a sophisticated communication system that provides staphylococci the opportunity to undertake a coordinated attack on the organism."  

The team analyzed compounds extracted from marine bacteria collected from all over the world on the Galathea 3 expedition, which took place from August 2006 until April 2007. One particular compound, Solonamid B, isolated from a marine bacterium found near the Solomon Islands, is of particular interest.

"Solonamid B inhibits the ability of staphylococci to produce various toxins that break down our blood cells. White blood cells in particular are important in this context, because they participate in the fight against invasive bacteria during an infection. When Solonamid B is added to bacteria, it reduces their toxin production so only a fifth of the white blood cells die that would otherwise succumb to the staphylococci toxins," says Professor Hanne Ingmer who collaborated with Nielsen.

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