New compounds discovered as possible candidates for new antimicrobial drugs against Listeria infection
Scientists at Umeå Centre for Microbial Research (UCMR) have discovered chemical compounds which are able to attenuate the virulence of the bacterial human pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. Their findings are published today in the high impact journal Cell Chemical Biology.
The dramatic increase of antibiotic resistance makes new antimicrobial strategies necessary. The researchers at Umeå University in Sweden are studying an alternative approach, to inhibit the disease capacity (virulence) of bacteria but not their viability. Compared with traditional antibiotics, which often kill the bacteria, the risk of resistance development in disarmed bacteria is lower, since their survival does not depend on resistance against the new drug.
A Listeria infection can be very severe, particularly among patients such as elderly, infants, immunocompromised or pregnant women. Although disease occurrence is relatively low, Listeria’s severe and sometimes fatal health consequences make it among the most serious foodborne infections, with a mortality of 30%. Listeria is found in unpasteurized dairy products and various ready-to-eat foods, and can grow at refrigeration temperatures. In Sweden, 60-90 people per year get infected and the statistics show that the number of outbreaks is increasing.
The study involved several different Umeå University research groups with diverse specialties: Microbiology, Chemistry and Structural Biology. The group of Jörgen Johansson, professor at the laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS) and the Department of Molecular Biology collaborated with the research groups of Elisabeth Sauer-Eriksson and Fredrik Almqvist, both professors at the Department of Chemistry.