A component of bodily secretions stops bacteria forming antibiotic-resistant sheets, shows a report in this week's Nature (Vol. 417, No. 6888, 30 May 02, pp. 552-555). The protein could help prevent the chronic infections that force medical implants to be removed and that prove lethal in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients.
Lactoferrin, a protein abundant in secretions including tears, mucus and human milk, stops bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa clustering into biofilms, Pradeep Singh and colleagues, of The University of Iowa in Iowa City, have shown.
Lactoferrin takes up iron and deprives the bacteria of an essential nutrient. This may trigger them to search for a better place to settle: lactoferrin makes the bacteria scurry around. Why cystic fibrosis lungs remain vulnerable to infection remains unclear, however.
Lactoferrin or a drug that mops up iron could be sprayed on medical implants or wounds to prevent biofilms forming, suggests Singh.
Pradeep K. Singh
tel: +1 319 335 7608
(C) Nature press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza