SEP 04, 2018 10:17 PM PDT

'Fosfomycin' Antibiotic Treatment to Combat Listeria Infections

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Credit: Center for Disease and Control (CDC)

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria that were long thought to be untreatable may now be treated with a powerful antibiotic according to a recent study published in PLOS genetics. One particular antibiotic-resistant bacteria is the food-posing bug, Listeria. This particular bacterium was shown to be responsive to an antibiotic despite carrying genes that are highly resistant, the antibiotic is called ‘fosfomycin’.

The research has shown that the antibiotic, fosfomycin, should be the treatment for life-threatening complications caused by Listeria infections. Even though early lab tests proved that fosfomycin failed to eradicate Listeria since the bacterium carried a gene that enabled it to break down the drug. However, further research found that the drug held high efficacy in eradicating Listeria in infected cells in the laboratory setting and in mice.

According to the research done at the University of Edinburgh, the genes that are only activated when the bacterium infected the body will wipe out the symptoms of the drug-destroying gene. The research suggests that ‘fosfomycin’ can prove to be a useful treatment for life-threatening Listeria cases despite these bacterium testing resistant during laboratory tests.

Named listeriosis, Listeria infections are the most lethal food-borne disease known and are often fatal. It is a result by ingesting contaminated foods like soft cheeses, smoked salmon, pates, meats, and salads. The infection is especially dangerous for those with poor immune systems, such as older individuals and newborns. The infection can also lead to miscarriage. The listeria bacteria reproduce within the cells of the human body and are known to affect the brain, which only certain therapeutics are able to target. Therefore, due to the limit of these therapeutics ‘fosfomycin’ may prove highly beneficial. Professor Jose Vazquez-Boland, who led the research at the University of Edinburgh's Division of Infection Medicine, said: "Our study focused on Listeria, but this important discovery may be relevant for other species of bacteria too. It is encouraging that we may be able to repurpose existing drugs in the race against antibiotic resistance."

Watch this video below to learn more about the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes:

Source: University of Edinburgh, PLOS Genetics

About the Author
  • Nouran earned her BS and MS in Biology at IUPUI and currently shares her love of science by teaching. She enjoys writing on various topics as well including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
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