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Staph receptor as drug target

11:50am, November 13, 2004

From Washington, D.C., at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy

A molecule that sits on the surface of Staphylococcus aureus, an infectious microbe that's resistant to many antibiotics, might offer a weak spot in the bacterium's defenses, early research suggests. Certain peptides secreted by the bacteria themselves bind to a receptor called AgrC and trigger the bacteria to make toxins. Other peptides shut down the process. Because many bacteria are doing this simultaneously in close quarters, the process becomes a cell-to-cell communication system that enables the cells to coordinate their actions, says Richard P. Novick of the New York University School of Medicine, who presented the findings.

When researchers injected doses of S. aureus under the skin of mice, the animals developed toxin-induced abscesses at those sites within 2 days. But when mice were concurrently given the bacteria and a dose of a peptide th

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