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Regina Bailey

Combating Antibiotic Resistance

By May 5, 2012

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This image shows Listeria infecting human cells.
Image: Keith Ireton / University of Central Florida

Manchester University researchers are attempting to combat antibiotic resistance by developing a way to prevent bacteria from infecting cells of the body. While studying a group of bacteria called Listeria, the researchers discovered that they spread infection through a cell protein called calpain. Learning about how bacteria spread infection could lead to the development of new anti-infective drugs that could be an alternative to antibiotics.

According to lead researcher Dr. David Brough, "We have investigated the growth of Listeria, a pathogenic bacterium that grows inside cells. An essential step for its growth, and thus the infection, is the bacteria's ability to move from within one compartment in a cell to another. We discovered that in order for this particular type of bacteria to move and to grow some of the host cells biology is exploited, a protein called calpain. Without calpain the bacteria cannot move within the cell and so do not grow." The researchers contend that drugs could potentially be developed against the protein to inhibit infection. This would reduce the necessity for antibiotic use.

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