E. coli O157:H7 treatment may become easier due to aurodox discovery

New research from Scotland’s University of Glasgow has medical experts hopeful, as the findings suggest potential avenues for treating E. coli infections in the future.

The study found that aurodox, a chemical compound that inhibits the biosynthesis of bacterial protein, can block the E. coli strain O157:H7 from binding to human cells. Not only that, but aurodox, unlike conventional antibiotics, doesn’t trigger the E. coli O157:H7 protein that creates toxin.

E. coli O157:H7 is a Shiga-toxin-producing strain, or STEC. Within the bacteria, the protein RecA is necessary to produce Shiga toxin, a toxin that increases the risk of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is a life-threatening kidney condition in which blood platelets are destroyed, red blood cell count drops and kidneys can fail. Elderly people, small children and anyone who has had their immune system weakened by an illness are especially at risk.

Because antibiotics trigger Shiga-toxin production, they aren’t recommended for treating E. coli cases. Having a treatment method that uses aurodox could circumvent this issue, potentially saving lives.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially fatal bacteria bug that currently is not recommended for treatment with antibiotics,” wrote study lead Andrew Roe. “Our results are encouraging and suggest that this compound could be used as a promising anti-virulence therapy for the treatment of these infections.”

STEC strains are some of the most prolific foodborne pathogens. There were 6,073 cases of STEC in the European Union in 2017 according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 265,000 STEC infections in the U.S. each year, with O157:H7 accounting for 36%.

In most non-HUS cases, symptoms include diarrhea and severe cramping. Usually, it wraps up in a few days without treatment, but it’s best to consult a doctor if you suspect you are infected. Medical attention should be sought immediately if there is blood present in the diarrhea.

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