Breakthrough against hospital ‘superbug’

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Published: June 13, 2015 1:36:40 AM

Researchers have developed a cutting-edge new medical therapy that could protect UK hospital patients against a lethal superbug.

Researchers have developed a cutting-edge new medical therapy that could protect UK hospital patients against a lethal superbug.

The new treatment, which uses a molecule called an inhibitor to prevent the hospital superbug Klebsiella pneumonia from blocking the body’s natural defences, has the potential to save thousands of lives in the UK each year.

The Queen’s University Belfast research team found that Klebsiella can survive inside white blood cells called “macrophages,” which are meant to protect the human body from infection.

The superbug takes over a protein in the blood cell called “Akt,” paralyzing the cell and making it the perfect shelter to avoid being killed by antibiotics.

The team showed that by treating the cell with the inhibitor, which stops “Akt” protein from working, the blood cell is once again capable of killing Klebsiella and the infection can be completely eliminated.

Team leader Jose Bengoechea said that the global problem of antimicrobial resistance is fast becoming one of the major health issues of modern times. Of particular concern is the mounting prevalence of infections caused by Klebsiella pneumonia which has been identified as an urgent threat to human health by the UK government and the World Health Organisation due to extremely drug resistant strains.

The study is published in Cellular Microbiology.

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