Scientists claim to have identified a crack in the armor of a common microbe that causes stomach ulcers and other diseases.
They have identified a group of substances that block a key chemical pathway that the bacteria need for survival, which could lead to more effective antibiotics to fight these hard-to-treat microbes
Lead researcher Javier Sancho revealed that Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria infect the stomach lining and can cause gastritis and ulcers. Treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics can cure H. pylori infections.
Scientists were already aware that blocking flavodoxin, a key protein that H. pylori needs for survival, could be the key to developing narrow-spectrum antibiotics that specifically target H. pylori.
In the new study, Sancho's team screened 10,000 chemicals for their ability to block flavodoxin and identified four that showed promise.
They then showed that three of the four substances killed H. pylori in cell cultures and did not have any apparent toxic effects in lab animals.
"These new inhibitors constitute promising candidates to develop new specific antibiotics against H. pylori," said the study.
The study will appear in ACS Chemical Biology, a monthly journal.