Molecular 'homing' could combat antibiotic-resistant pathogens | I Advance Senior Care Skip to content Skip to navigation

Molecular 'homing' could combat antibiotic-resistant pathogens

May 12, 2015
by Richard R. Rogoski
| Reprints

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences have seen success in using bacteria-specific molecules to fight antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

Their study, published in the Journal of Molecular Medicine, used a novel approach by tagging bacteria with a molecular “homing beacon” that attracts pre-existing antibodies to attack the pathogens. The beacon, or Alphamer, is a small piece of DNA selected to bind to a specific bacterial target combined with an alpha-Gal, a type of sugar molecule. Because human bodies produce antibodies to attack an alpha-Gal, these pre-existing antibodies essentially are redirected to attack the targeted pathogen.

“We’re picturing a future in which doctors have a case full of pathogen-specific Alphamers at their disposal,” Victor Nizet, MD, professor of pediatrics and pharmacy at UC San Diego, said in a press release. “They see an infected patient, identify the causative bacteria and pull out the appropriate Alphamer to instantly enlist the support of the immune system in curing the infection.”

Topics