OSU Helps Kick Bacteria Where It Hurts

bacteriaIf you’re like me, completely enamored with genetics, you’ll be excited by the latest announcement from Oregon State University, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Sarepta Therapudics (a Corvallis biotechnology company). Bruce Geller of the OSU College of science led a collaborative study which successfully used new antibacterial agents called PPMOs (peptide-conjugated phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomer), synthetic analogs of DNA or RNA, to specifically target the genetic make-up of bacteria. PPMOs effectively inhibit the expression of certain essential bacterial genes.

“The mechanism that PPMOs use to kill bacteria is revolutionary,” Geller said, and the study results seem to support this assertion. The analogs showed themselves to be more effective and precise than traditional antibiotics, and also appear to be effective on antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains.

In a study recently published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, the scientists tested the effects of PPMOs in mice infected with A. lwoffii and A. baumannii — a particularly nasty bacterial strain of growing global concern. A.baumannii causes respiratory infection in addition to sepsis and has become resistant to several antibiotics. It has been with high mortality in injured military personnel in the Middle East. The treatment increased the survival rate of the mice, even when the infection was not immediately treated.

Research will continue and human trials should be expected in the future. If successful, PPMOs may be effective in treating any disease with a genetic component.

by Kristen Daly

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