Trick, then treat


Health in the Hills

By Brittany Dixon, M.S.
Scientific Writer at
TransPharm Preclinical Solutions

What do the ancient Greeks and a group of modern-day researchers have in common? Scientists at the University of Washington School of Medicine are using a “Trojan Horse” strategy to trick and treat (Happy Halloween!) antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a superbug that can cause serious wound and lung infections, relies on the uptake of iron to survive and spread. Microbiologists discovered that gallium, a metal similar to iron, tricks the bacteria by mimicking the essential nutrient. However, once inside, gallium fails to nourish the bacteria in the way iron does – and it actually harms them.

In an experiment using mice, a single dose of gallium cured lung infections that usually killed the animals. Although more research is needed to determine the safety of gallium as a treatment, the same tactic used to end the Trojan War could prove effective against today’s drug-resistant pathogens.

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