The new inhibitor potentially represents an important advance over standard antibiotics, said the study published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Used with customary therapeutics, the inhibitors could prove effective against numerous types of bacteria that release soluble toxins such as enterohemorrhagic E. Coli, said David Bundle, principal author of the study.
The inhibitor, called (S)-PolyBAIT, protected mice against the effects of a dose of the Shiga toxin that causes the hemolytic-uremic syndrome associated with E Coli food poisoning, according to the researchers.
The inhibitors offer a more promising approach than antibiotics alone, which can destroy cells and release bacterial toxins into the bloodstream.
"Because antibiotic therapy alone is not used in practice bacause of the increased toxin load that results from toxin released by killed bacteria, such dual therapy may be an attractive option for the most severe E. Coli infections," it said.