Scientists Discover How To Disarm Superbug Bacteria

A drug-resistant superbug could be catastrophic for our species. How do you stop an incurable illness? By stunting it before it takes hold. Scientists have discovered a molecule that some virulent bacteria need in order to latch onto a host, and they may be able to create a treatment that would render the molecule useless. Can we finally cross one doomsday scenario off our list of fears?

In a study published in Chemistry & Biology, scientists describe how they managed to block Brucella from bonding with a host. While fever-inducing Brucella isn't the type of hyper-contagious bacteria that could sweep across the planet in a flash, everybody is vaccinated against it and some drug resistant varieties have cropped up. In order for the bacteria to latch on, the protein VirB8 needs to be present. Blasting the potential bonding site with other small-molecules was found to inhibit the effectiveness of the protein to assemble the bond.

This is still just a chemistry project and not a treatment. But if scientists can figure out how to inhibit the protein in the human body, we could effectively eliminate the virulence of Brucella regardless of whether or not a particular strain is drug resistant. So we've got a long way to go before superbugs are out of the picture, but it's no longer just a pipe dream — it's a goal to work towards. [Chemistry & Biology via PhysOrg]

Image: Alexander Raths/Shutterstock

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