Sodium nitrite which is used as a food preservative is found to kill Helicobacter pylori; the bacterium which is responsible for causing stomach ulcers, these bacteria is predominant in cystic fibrosis patients and is also responsible for disease severity. The study was conducted by the researchers from University of Cincinnati.
The new study suggests, however, that a mutation--known as mucA--in the organism also represents a fatal flaw that could help physicians clear the characteristic "goop" from the lungs of advanced cystic fibrosis patients.
The reason for optimism, the researchers say, is that the same genetic change that turns Pseudomonas aeruginosa into a sticky, antibiotic-resistant killer also leaves it susceptible to destruction by slightly acidified sodium nitrite, a common chemical that is widely used in the curing of lunch meat, sausages and bacon. The bacteria is present in the form of Achilles heel in a formidable mucoid form in cystic fibrosis patients and the new study as found that the bacterium can be effectively killed by Sodium nitrite.
Cystic fibrosis, which affects about 30,000 people in the United States, mostly Caucasians of north European origin, is an inherited disease caused by a defect in a gene called the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). Affecting the airways and many other vital organs and processes, cystic fibrosis is chronic, progressive and ultimately fatal, mostly as a result of respiratory failure.
The good news is that Dr. Hassett and his colleagues found that about 87 percent of the mucoid Pseudomonas organisms they studied have a "fatal flaw" in the very gene (mucA) that makes it mucoid as well as antibiotic and immune-system resistant--they are easily destroyed by slightly acidified (pH 6.5) sodium nitrite.