Much has happened in the world of infectious diseases in the month of March 2017, from strides in hepatitis C treatment, to proposed changes in the Affordable Care Act. But some news stood out more than others this past month, including the rise of Powassan virus in the United States, infection prevention measures to curb the spread of Clostridium difficile
in the hospital setting, and new methods to kill cancer-causing bacteria.
Unsurprisingly, taking the number one spot on the list is news regarding the continued circulation of influenza in the United States after the end of the winter season.
In case you missed them, here are Contagion®
’s Top 5 trending news stories from this past month.
#5: Vitamin May Be Key to Killing Cancer-Causing Bacteria
More than half of the world’s population are carriers of Heliobacter pylori
, an infectious bacterium. This bacterium is often found in the gastrointestinal system. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that H. pylori
causes nine of 10 ulcers of the small intestine and esophagus, and four of five ulcers elsewhere in the gastrointestinal system. Therefore, eliminating this bacterium is of great importance.
Manual Amieva, MD, PhD, associate professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University, recently published findings that illustrate that, in animal subjects, chronic acid suppression, which is used to treat symptoms of ulcers, may predispose patients to gastric cancers if they are also carriers of H. pylori
. What’s more, the constant inflammation linked to chronic ulcers, a symptom of H. pylori
, is commonly associated with stomach cancers.
According to study co-author Andrey Kovalevsky, PhD, a macromolecular crystallographer and biochemist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, TN, “Most drugs, including common antibiotics, use a generalized mechanism to bind to their targets which, in turn, eliminates the good bacteria you need to stay healthy as well as the bad bacteria.”
Now, researchers from the US Department of Energy (DOE), Oak Ridge, and the University of Toledo, believe that the enzyme these bacteria use to synthesis vitamin K2 may be the key to the development of drugs that would differentiate between H. pylori
and “good” gut bacteria.
Using neutron analysis to study the metabolism of H. pylori
, the researchers believe they are one step closer to developing drugs that will only target this bacterium. The researchers found that H. pylori
“uses a unique biosynthetic pathway to synthesize vitamin K2.” While K2 is associated with blood clotting in humans, the vitamin plays a key role in essential chemical reactions that keep H. pylori
alive. Therefore, obstructing these reactions could weaken or kill the bacteria.
According to the lead researcher, Donald Ronning, PhD, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Toledo, this information “will inform future drug design efforts.” Although this may take years, these findings could accelerate the development of treatment options for H. pylori
To read more about H. pylori
, click here