Breakthrough in fight against deadly pathogen: New Zealand-led study

Updated 2017-03-30 17:34:14 Xinhua

A vaccine could be on the horizon for a deadly pathogen that is emerging around the world thanks to New Zealand-led research revealed Thursday.

The possible strategy for a new vaccine had been developed for Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a pathogen that causes severe wound and lung infections in patients with weak immune systems, said the research leader, a microbiologist at Massey University.

The infection typically infected the airway, urinary tract, burns and wounds, and also caused other blood infections.

The pathogen was listed this year on the World Health Organization's first list of antibiotic-resistant priority pathogens in the most critical category because of the severe infections and high mortality rates.

Professor Bernd Rehm said the risks were high with the pathogen as there was currently no vaccine available to protect against it.

“This bacterial pathogen is found all over and is accepted worldwide as a public health risk due to its increasing infection rates combined with its ability to develop resistances to multiple classes of antibiotics,” Rehm said.

“Due to a range of mechanisms for adaptation, survival and resistance to multiple classes of antibiotics, infections by this bacterium can be life-threatening and it is emerging worldwide as a public health threat.”

The study was the first to investigate the immunological properties of natural polymer particles formed inside pathogenic bacteria and the first to utilize the particles as carriers of the pathogen's own antigens to be used as a particulate vaccine - in other words fighting the pathogen with its own weapons.

The bacterium worked by attaching itself to a person's wound or lung tissue and producing a dense and slimy biofilm, where bacteria could embed themselves and stay protected from the body's immune system.

The study suggested that all research into the pathogen should consider international coordinated multidisciplinary programs with results of laboratory outputs being deposited in centralized, accessible databases to expedite advances in control of infections.

“A future outlook emphasizes the need for collaborative international multidisciplinary efforts to translate current knowledge into strategies to prevent and treat these infections, while reducing the rate of antibiotic resistance and avoiding the spreading of resistant strains,” said Rehm.

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