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New Way to Counter Hospital-borne Infection with a Pump

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By revealing the structure of a protein used by bacteria to pump out antibiotics, a research team designed an early-stage therapeutic that sabotages the pump and restores the effectiveness of antibiotics.        

Led by researchers from New York University, NYU Grossman School of Medicine, and NYU Langone’s Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center, the new study used advanced microscopy to “see” for the first time the structure of NorA, a protein that the bacterial species Staphylococcus aureus uses to pump out widely used antibiotics before they can kill them.

Efflux pumps represent one mechanism by which S. aureus has evolved resistance to fluoroquinolones, a group of more than 60 approved antibiotics that includes norfloxacin (Noroxin), levofloxacin (Levaquin), and ciprofloxacin (Cipro). Fluoroquinolones are now ineffective against some drug-resistant bacterial strains, including methicillin-resistance S. aureus (MRSA), a major cause of death among hospitalized patients when infections become severe, the researchers say. For this reason, the field has sought to design efflux pump inhibitors, but early attempts have been hindered by side effects.

“Instead of trying to find a new antibiotic, we hope to make the most widely used antibiotics over the last few decades, rendered ineffective by bacterial resistance, highly effective again,” says first study author Doug Brawley, PhD. He completed his doctoral thesis in the laboratories of senior authors Nate Traaseth, PhD, a professor in the Department of Chemistry at New York University, and Da-Neng Wang, PhD, a professor in the Department of Cell Biology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

About the author

editor

Editor in chief for eTurboNew is Linda Hohnholz. She is based in the eTN HQ in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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