A drug-resistant superbug could be catastrophic for our species, but how are we supposed to 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. They think they might 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. Fever-inducing Brucella isn't very contagious, and cases are rare, but it's also very hard to treat and there isn't a vaccine. In other words Brucella is a superbug, but you don't have to worry about an experiment getting out of hand. The researchers found that bacteria like Brucella need the protein VirB8 to latch on. Blasting the potential bonding site with other small-molecules was found to inhibit the effectiveness of the protein to assemble the bond.
Of course, 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]
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