In recent years we have witnessed a remarkable increase in bacteria resistant to antibiotics which rendered many therapies ineffective e, Consequently, the treatment of various pathologies caused by bacterial infections. According to the World Health Organization (OMS) every year 700 thousand people in the world die from an infection due to antibiotic resistant bacteria and of these approx 10 thousand in Italy.

One of the main reasons that triggered this resistance is the abuse of antibiotics, in fact it is thought that there could be a further increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for the extensive use of these drugs during hospital stays.

Hence the need for research to find new, more powerful molecules capable of fighting these bacteria. A classroom, extensively studied and used, is represented by antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) which we have already talked about in this article ( Many studies have been carried out in this regard, but the most recent ones concern a known disease: cystic fibrosis.

The cystic fibrosis (FC) it is a genetic disease that mainly affects the respiratory and digestive systems and is caused by the alteration of a gene that triggers the excessive production of mucus. This mucus closes the bronchi causing continuous respiratory infections and also obstructs the pancreas, preventing pancreatic enzymes from reaching the intestines and digesting food.

Patients with CF often suffer from polymicrobial infections caused by the presence of multiple bacterial species in the body. In particular, are affected by bronchopulmonary infections associated with a worsening of the clinical picture, because these pathogens remain in the respiratory tract. Then, to counteract these infections, antibiotic therapies are used which have lost their effectiveness over time. The decrease in the effectiveness of existing antibiotics against pulmonary pathogens required the development of new antimicrobials.

He played a key role in this research gallio, an element of the periodic table already known and used in the field of biomedicine for its antibacterial properties. Gallium is a iron-mimetic, i.e. has a high affinity for iron which is essential for the growth and survival of bacteria. Substituting it for iron in the culture medium of these pathogens, the researchers observed a inhibition of their growth because the bacterium cannot distinguish between the two elements.

Some components of gallium have been proven a specific inhibitory activity for certain bacterial species responsible for bronchopulmonary infections in CF (to name a few: Mycobacterium abscessus, Burkholderia cepacia, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus e Haemophilus influenzae.). Since each component is selective for some bacteria, it is assumed that a synergistic combination of all components could also be effective against polymicrobial infections.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has already approved the use of intravenous gallium in the United States. New studies are currently underway, in collaboration with research institutes in Italy, per also demonstrate the efficacy of aerosol administration.

[Credit image by suksao on Freepik]


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