A new study suggests that boosting the abundance of one of the body's own proteins might be more effective than antibiotic treatment at fighting off a common meningitis-causing bacterium (E. coli K1). It is published online on May 24th in the Journal of Experimental Medicine
K1 can lead to long-lasting neurological deficits and, in severe cases, death. The increasing prevalence of antibiotic-resistant strains coupled with the severe side effects of antibiotic treatment highlight the urgent need for new anti-bacterial therapies.
Nemani V. Prasadarao and co-workers show that injection of a natural anti-inflammatory protein called interleukin-10 protected mice against lethal infection with E. coli
K1—even the antibiotic-resistant variety—without triggering the side effects of antibiotics.
Interleukin-10 is already used to treat adults with certain autoimmune diseases. Whether it will be safe and effective in human infants infected with E. coli
K1 remains to be seen.