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Stopping Bacterial 'Chit-Chat' Fights Infection

Drugs that block germ-to-germ signaling could be effective, scientists say

MONDAY, Sept. 11, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Compounds that block chemical signals used by bacteria to communicate may help fight germs from spreading and causing infections, U.S. scientists report.

These "conversation stopper" compounds are small organic molecules that, when combined with antibiotics, could deliver a one-two knockout punch to dangerous bacteria, says a team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The research, presented Sunday at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society, in San Francisco, could lead to new drugs to fight infections.

"There is an urgent, global need for new antibacterial therapies. The ability to interfere with bacterial virulence by intercepting bacterial communication networks represents a new therapeutic approach and is clinically timely," study leader Helen Blackwell, assistant professor of chemistry, said in a prepared statement.

Bacteria worldwide are developing increased resistance to antibiotics, and scientists are trying to find ways to counter that resistance and prevent deadly infections.

So far, the University of Wisconsin team has identified two "conversation stopper" compounds that showed promise against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium that's a common cause of death in people with cystic fibrosis.

More information

The American Society for Microbiology has more about bacteria.

SOURCE: American Chemical Society, news release, Sept. 10, 2006
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