New Method Discovered to Inhibit Cholera Infection


In a recent study titled “A peptide-binding domain shared with an Antarctic bacterium facilitates Vibrio cholerae human cell binding and intestinal colonization,” researchers have revealed a promising strategy to hinder the spread and infection of Vibrio cholerae, the bacteria responsible for cholera. The study was published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Vibrio cholerae is naturally found in marine environments on various surfaces. When humans consume water or food contaminated with V. cholerae, the bacteria colonize the gastrointestinal tract, leading to cholera.

Cholera is an intestinal infection that causes diarrhea, vomiting, circulatory collapse, and shock, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Severe cases of cholera can be fatal, with a mortality rate of 25 to 50%. The World Health Organization estimates that up to four million people are infected with cholera each year, making it a major cause of epidemic diarrhea in certain parts of the world.

The research was coauthored by Karl Klose, director of The South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases (STCEID), and Cameron Lloyd, a recent graduate with a Ph.D. in molecular microbiology and immunology. Lloyd, who worked in Klose’s laboratory for five years, focused on studying V. cholerae and its pathogenic mechanisms.

The study explored the structural similarities between two large adhesins, which are components that enable bacteria to adhere to other cells. By leveraging these similarities, the researchers identified a peptide, a short chain of amino acids, that effectively inhibited the adherence of V. cholerae to human cells and its ability to form biofilms, which are communities of bacteria that are more resistant to antibiotics.

Collaborating with researchers from Queens University and Eindhoven University, Lloyd and Klose discovered that the peptide inhibitors, which bind to an Antarctic bacterium called Marinomonas primoryensis, known to adhere to microalgae similarly to V. cholerae’s adherence to human intestines, could disrupt V. cholerae’s colonization of the intestinal tract and formation of biofilms.

Klose stated that these peptide inhibitors have demonstrated the ability to inhibit both biofilm formation and intestinal colonization by V. cholerae. This research provides hope for intervention strategies aimed at preventing the bacteria from causing disease and persisting in the environment.

The research conducted in Klose’s lab, which focuses on understanding the mechanisms through which bacteria cause disease, is part of the broader work within the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases. This center is renowned for its expertise in infectious disease research and plays a critical role in training undergraduate and graduate students in the field of science and technology.

Lloyd highlighted that projects like this have equipped him with advanced knowledge in molecular biology, coding, and high throughput data analysis. Klose emphasized that UTSA is an excellent place for graduates to study infectious diseases and pursue careers in the field.

This breakthrough in identifying a peptide inhibitor for cholera could have significant implications for preventing and treating this devastating disease. Further research in this area and the development of intervention strategies are crucial for reducing the global burden of cholera.


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