Skip to comments.Cholesterol drug strips staph of color, virulence
Posted on 02/15/2008 12:35:11 PM PST by Dysart
Potentially deadly staph bacteria may be easily defeated by the body's own immune system once stripped of their golden hue by a drug developed to lower cholesterol, according to new research.
The findings offer a promising new direction in the fight against increasingly drug-resistant staph infections, according to the National Institutes of Health, which supported the research.
An international team of researchers found that a "squalene synthase inhibitor," originally developed by Bristol Myers Squibb, blocks infections of Staphylococcus aureus, named for its "golden halo," in mice.
Staph contains a carotenoid -- like beta carotene in carrots -- that acts like an antioxidant against the immune system, Dr. Eric Oldfield, chemistry professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the study's lead researcher, said in a telephone interview.
The body's circulatory system essentially puts out "bleach" to kill invaders, but staph's golden pigment blocks the process, he explained.
Observing research showing that removing a gene in staph's pigment-making pathway created a less virulent bacteria, Dr. Oldfield noticed that the metabolic pathway was similar to the one for the production of cholesterol in humans.
"Once you knock out the enzyme, the bacteria still proliferates, but the immune system can kill it," he said.
Other researchers discovered that three drugs designed to act on the human cholesterol enzyme blocked staph's pigment production in lab tests.
When they treated staph-infected mice with one of the compounds, dubbed BPH-652, the bacterial population was reduced by 98 percent. The results were published in the latest online edition of the journal Science.
A spokesman for Bristol-Myers said the company was no longer developing the compound, part of a class known as squalene synthase inhibitors, which has been largely surpassed by the popular cholesterol-fighting statin drugs.
"They would probably have adverse side effects if you took them for 40 years ... but that doesn't happen in one week," Dr. Oldfield said, referring to the likely treatment timeline for patients infected with staph, which largely occurs in hospitals.
He said the research team is testing several hundred other compounds "to see if we get something better."
Meanwhile, the next step will be to explore whether the pigment-fighting approach will work in humans.
"Although the results are still very preliminary, they offer a promising new lead for developing drugs to treat a very timely and medically important health concern," NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni said in a statement.
Drug-resistant forms of staph have become more common, and in October a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus killed an estimated 19,000 Americans in 2005.
Viruses of color ping!.......
So, should we be giving massive doses to Hillary whose golden campaign suit color masquerades a deadly virus?
This isn’t a statin. I’ts a “squalene synthase inhibitor” which aren’t produced anymore because they were replaced by statins.
Sounds very promising!
Not necessarily. Most of them were probably old and already in the hospital, which is by far the best place to pick up these infections. IOW, most of them were dying anyway. The bacteria just finished them off.
good news bump!
It’s exactly in line with widely reported estimates. I think the number is 18,650...so it’s rounded to 19k here. On what basis do you believe it’s high?
Do you know what the names of these drugs were when they WERE produced?
We have come to think of patents as the fair proceeds due an inventor -- that the inventor or initial creator/discoverer has some inherent right to the ownership of his created property.
That is a totally FALSE ideation, a way of thinking without practical merit -- and as time as shown -- very toxic to the process of discovery of new things.
Here is a case of an old drug out of patent that perhaps should be returned to patent. That is to say in order to make it cheaply and reliably we may want to auction off or otherwise give out a few patents of a set duration for its exclusive manufacture.
Why do you think patents discourage invention? I agree that patent and copyright laws are often abused, but allowing inventors or creators to profit from their creations will generally encourage inventing and creating, not discourage it.
These compounds were not marketed as drugs.(Yet) The article refers to one of the compounds which has showed promise—BPH-652— but there are variations of SSI compounds.
I imagine Bristol will get right on it if testing pans out...
Thanks for the ping.
That's not what I said.
I said that there is today a common misinterpretation of what patents are, and by what natural right they arise. It is the misinterpretation which hurts innovation greatly.
Very interesting. Kill those bugs!
Glad to hear about this. Thanks for posting it.