A gutsy new treatment for a deadly type of food poisoning may soon be possible thanks to recent Australian research.
Escherichia coli, known as E. coli, are a type of bacteria often associate with mild food poisoning.
But some types of E. coli can be fatal.
UNSW Science microbiologists studied an enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), a strain that causes a severe intestinal infection in humans.
This nasty, food-borne strain releases Shiga toxins during infection, resulting in kidney and neurological damage.
Dr Jai Tree, the study’s senior author, said the researchers discovered a new molecular pathway that controls toxin production.
He said this was important because there was no commercially available treatment for this type of infection.
“Antibiotic treatment of these infections is generally not recommended because antibiotics stimulate production of the Shiga toxin, leading to an increased risk of kidney failure, neurological damage, and death,” Dr Tree said.
“The new pathway that we have found reduces toxin production and is not expected to be stimulated by antibiotic treatment. So, our results identify a potential new target for the development of drugs that can suppress Shiga toxin production during EHEC infection.”
“It’s still early days, however, and we need to conduct a lot more research,” Dr Tree said.
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