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
OCT 08, 2020
Cardiology
Omega-3 Enriched Chicken as a Fish Alternative for Omega-3 Fatty Acids
OCT 08, 2020
Omega-3 Enriched Chicken as a Fish Alternative for Omega-3 Fatty Acids
We have all seen those articles telling us to get more omega-3 fatty acids in our diet. Many studies point to these spec ...
OCT 05, 2020
Health & Medicine
Cannabis Chemotherapy Trial Shows Encouraging Phase II Results
OCT 05, 2020
Cannabis Chemotherapy Trial Shows Encouraging Phase II Results
Even with the best anti-nausea medications one in three patients receiving chemotherapy experiences vomiting, and about ...
OCT 09, 2020
Microbiology
Two Early Relatives of Rubella Are Discovered
OCT 09, 2020
Two Early Relatives of Rubella Are Discovered
Rubella is a contagious, airborne viral infection that can lead to rash, fever, and sore throat. It's especially dangero ...
OCT 12, 2020
Microbiology
Researchers May Have Found a Way to Cure Rotavirus Infections
OCT 12, 2020
Researchers May Have Found a Way to Cure Rotavirus Infections
Rotaviruses are very contagious. They are the most common cause of diarrhea in children and are estimated to cause about ...
OCT 21, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Extracellular Vesicles Help Heart Cells Survive a Heart Attack
OCT 21, 2020
Extracellular Vesicles Help Heart Cells Survive a Heart Attack
During a heart attack, blood flow is blocked and cells lose oxygen and begin to die. Scientists are developing many new ...
OCT 22, 2020
Neuroscience
Psychedelic Experiences Reduce Narcissistic Personality Traits
OCT 22, 2020
Psychedelic Experiences Reduce Narcissistic Personality Traits
Researchers from the UK have found that psychedelic drugs can positively affect narcissistic personality traits- by redu ...
Loading Comments...