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Sugar Protects Cells from Bacterial Invasion

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No admission for bacteria: Scientists from the University of Freiburg have succeeded in preventing Pseudomonas bacteria from entering host cells with the help of a sugar complex. Dr. Thorsten Eierhoff and junior professor Dr. Winfried Römer from the Institute of Biologie II, both members of the Cluster of Excellence BIOSS Centre for Biological Signalling Studies of the University of Freiburg, have identified a sugar complex that binds the bacterial protein LecA in close cooperation with research groups led by Prof. Dr. Nicolas Winssinger from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and Dr. Anne Imberty from the University of Grenoble, France. This protein enables the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa to invade human lung cells. The researchers published their findings in the journal “Angewandte Chemie”.

Among other things, the hospital germ Pseudomonas aeruginosa can cause inflammation of the skin and lungs in patients with a weak immune system or a chronic illness. Moreover, these bacteria are often resistant to antibiotics. In tests conducted in cell culture, the researchers demonstrated that the germs penetrate into human lung cells 90 percent less often when treated with the agent.

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