Bacteria Offer Line of Attack on Cystic Fibrosis

Posted on December 17, 2008  Comments (0)

Bacteria Offer Line of Attack on Cystic Fibrosis

MIT researchers have found that the pigments responsible for the blue-green stain of the mucus that clogs the lungs of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients are primarily signaling molecules that allow large clusters of the opportunistic infection agent, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, to organize themselves into structured communities.

P. aeruginosa appears as a classic opportunistic infection, easily shrugged off by healthy people but a grave threat to those with CF, which chokes the lungs of its victims with sticky mucus.

“We have a long way to go before being able to test this idea, but the hope is that if survival in the lung is influenced by phenazine — or some other electron-shuttling molecule or molecules — tampering with phenazine trafficking might be a potential way to make antibiotics more effective,” said Newman, whose lab investigates how ancestral bacteria on the early Earth evolved the ability to metabolize minerals.

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