FEB 25, 2015 11:28 AM PST

Could an HIV Drug Beat Strep Throat, Flesh-Eating Bacteria?

WRITTEN BY: Judy O'Rourke
With antibiotic resistance on the rise, scientists are looking for innovative ways to combat bacterial infections. The pathogen that causes conditions from strep throat to flesh-eating disease is among them, but scientists have now found a tool that could help them fight it: a drug approved to treat HIV.

Douglas A. Mitchell, PhD, and colleagues point out that Streptococcus pyogenes is responsible for more than 600 million illnesses and 500,000 deaths globally every year. A major factor in the pathogen's ability to cause disease is its production of a toxin called streptolysin S, or SLS.
The fight against bacteria that cause strep throat and other illnesses could get help from an HIV drug.
If scientists could figure out a way to jam the bacterial machinery that makes the compound, they could develop new therapies to fight the pathogen and slow the spread of antibiotic resistance. But not much is known about how S. pyogenes makes SLS. Mitchell's team wanted to start filling in the blanks.

The researchers turned to an HIV drug called nelfinavir. Although the drug's target is an HIV protein, it is also known to incidentally block a key enzyme in patients. That enzyme is related to one in S. pyogenes that is critical for producing SLS. The scientists made several nelfinavir-like compounds that stopped the bacteria from making the toxin in lab tests. They conclude that the drug and its variants could help future efforts to understand how the deadly bacteria works and how to stop it.

Their work, discussed in an article titled "HIV Protease Inhibitors Block Streptolysin S Production," appearing in the journal ACS Chemical Biology, could someday lead to new treatments.

[Source: American Chemical Society]
About the Author
  • Judy O'Rourke worked as a newspaper reporter before becoming chief editor of Clinical Lab Products magazine. As a freelance writer today, she is interested in finding the story behind the latest developments in medicine and science, and in learning what lies ahead.
You May Also Like
JAN 15, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
JAN 15, 2020
Laser microchip picks up cancer markers in urine
A future where patients no longer need to endure expensive, painful and complicated cancer tests could soon become a reality. Researchers have developed a...
JAN 13, 2020
Neuroscience
JAN 13, 2020
A Quarter of Children with Autism are Left Undiagnosed
Researchers from Rutgers University have found that 25% of children under the age of 8 with autism in the US are left undiagnosed, something that may be a ...
JAN 19, 2020
Neuroscience
JAN 19, 2020
New Proteins Found in the Optical Processing of Lazy Eyes
Ophthalmology – Amblyopia: By Christine Law M.D.   Researchers in the Bear Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found surprising con...
JAN 11, 2020
Neuroscience
JAN 11, 2020
Molecular Therapy to Self-Repair Nerve Cells
Neurodegenerative diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer's, and Huntington's Disease are predicated on damage to myelin on nerve cells...
JAN 30, 2020
Microbiology
JAN 30, 2020
25% of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Can Spread Resistance Directly to Other Microbes
This research also suggests that antibiotics do not increase the rate at which bacteria acquire drug resistance genes....
FEB 03, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
FEB 03, 2020
Advances in Genetics From the GenomeAsia 100K Project
Scientists are taking note of the lack of diversity in genetics, and some are trying to fix the problem, which affects everyone....
Loading Comments...