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Infection Protection

Hospital Superbug With Sticky Fingers

1 year, 12 months ago

4078  0
Posted on Jun 08, 2018, 12 a.m.

Antibiotic resistant Acinetobacter baumannii bacterium is considered to be one of the most harmful bacteria to cause nosocomial infections worldwide. This superbug has been discovered to be using tiny sticky finger like structures to attach to plastic medical devices. Antibodies have been developed by the researchers at the University of Turku to prevent the bacterial spread.

Major healthcare problems arise worldwide from infections related to hospitals and medical devices which can be associated with ability of the pathogens to colonise biotic and abiotic surfaces. Acinetobacter baumannii is most troublesome for any healthcare institution, and it is currently at the top of the World Health Organization’s priority pathogen list for development of antibiotics.


Acinetobacter baumannii and related pathogenic bacterium’s unique molecular mechanism has been discovered that enables colonization of medical devices and enables them to spread in hospitals which will make it possible to reduce pathogen spread through simple and economical procedures in hospitals worldwide.


Acinetobacter baumannii uses archaic chaperone-usher pili to colonise medial devices, ACU pili are hair like protein structures found on many pathogenic bacteria. X-ray crystallography techniques allowed the researchers to find three finger like loops at the tips of the pili which stick extremely tightly to hydrophobic plastics commonly used in medical tools and devices.


Antibodies have been produced by the team that bind to the sticky tips of the pili and completely block the bacterial attachment and biofilm formation. Pseudomonas aeruginosa forms similar biofilms and has similar pili, it is suggested that this method might be applied to control the spread of that antibiotic resistant pathogen infection and against several other pathogens which use archaic chaperone-usher pili as well. Additionally another simple and economical solution would be use of hydrophilic material in place of hydrophobic plastics in medical devices.

Materials provided by University of Turku.

Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

Natalia Pakharukova, Minna Tuittila, Sari Paavilainen, Henri Malmi, Olena Parilova, Susann Teneberg, Stefan D. Knight, Anton V. Zavialov. Structural basis forAcinetobacter baumanniibiofilm formation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018; 115 (21): 5558 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1800961115


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