Vaccine developers scrambling bacterial 'chatter'
Until recently, we didn't know that bacteria are social critters. They lurk in small groups in the body, just like cliques at an unsuccessful cocktail party. Only when the place is crowded do they swing into real action. The chemical conversation they conduct is known as "quorum sensing."
Now, vaccine developers are targeting that bacterial chatter. By interrupting the conversation, a vaccine could keep the bacteria from knowing that their crowd has grown--and instead of attacking, they'll simply lurk harmlessly while the immune system takes them out.
Kim Janda of the Scripps Research Institute has developed a molecule that triggers antibodies that can dismantle the chemical communication of stapholoccocus aureus. Mice injected with the antibodies were given a lethal dose of staph; they didn't get sick. The control mice died within one day. "It's a stealth approach," Janda told The New York Times.
- read the article in The New York Times