May 20, 2022

Australian Researchers Find Way to Fight Listeria Monocytogenes Bacteria

Australian researchers may have found a method of fighting Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, a pathogen that can cause severe illness and death. The study was conducted at the University of Queensland in that country. The study was published in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

Australian Researchers Find Method to Fight Listeria Monocytogenes

The scientists focused on a way to block the pathogen from making proteins that let the bacteria survive and multiply in immune cells in the body. This mechanism of hiding inside immune cells is one way that the pathogen evades the human immune system. And the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria uses the immune cells to multiply, which destroys those cells that are crucial to preventing illness.

UQ Diamantina Institute’s Professor Antje Blumenthal said in a statement, “Listeria is found in the soil and sometimes in raw foods. Once ingested it can hide from the immune system and multiply inside immune cells. Instead of killing the bacteria, the immune cells are used by the bacteria to multiply and are often killed by Listeria growing inside them. Our study showed the bacteria could be cleared with a small drug-like inhibitor that targets the ‘master regulator’ of the proteins that help Listeria grow in immune cells. The inhibitor helped the immune cells survive infection and kill the bacteria.”

The researchers hope that this discovery, along with research into the master proteins’ molecular structure and function, could help develop new drugs to treat Listeria monocytogenes infections. They are also hopeful that the findings could help design inhibitors against related proteins that are found in other bacteria.

Most people are not serious affected by this pathogen. The very young, the elderly, anyone with a chronic illness or a compromised immune system, and pregnant women suffer the most serious effects of this bacteria. Most elderly patients are hospitalized, and pregnant women suffer miscarriage and stillbirth.

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