The search is on for alternative treatments to combat bacterial infections that have become resistant to antibiotics

An international research team has identified molecules that stop the bacteria Streptococcus suis in its tracks and could prevent some forms of meningitis in humans and pigs.

Typically, infection begins when the extracellular proteins on bacteria attach themselves to sugar residues on the surface of the host tissue. Preventing this initial interaction would prevent infection.

Ulf Nilsson from Lund University, Sweden, and his team made small libraries of molecules with sugar cores and screened them to find inhibitors of this protein-sugar interaction.

Two derivatives based around a galabiose core, were very effective S. suis inhibitors at only nanomolar concentrations. These compounds can now be used as starting points for further development. Using this approach, new therapeutics would not kill the bacteria but merely prevent it from infecting the host. Any resistance to the therapeutics would then be slower to develop.

Vikki Allen