Toward an alternative for antibiotics to fight bacterial infections?

3 July 2012
​VIB researcher Mohamed Lamkanfi, connected to the Ghent University, discovered that mice that do not produce the receptor protein NLRP6, are better protected against bacterial infections and can easier remove bacteria from the body. Therapeutic drugs that neutralize NLRP6 could be a possible treatment option, in addition to the use of antibiotics, for fighting bacterial infections. His research was published in the leading scientific magazine Nature.

Mohamed Lamkanfi (VIB – Ghent University): “Our lab investigates the role of the innate immunity, which is of crucial importance to protect the body against bacteria and other pathogens. We started looking for genetic mutations that lead to an increased sensitivity to infections. Our research showed that mice with NLRP6 are less resistant to bacteria and have greater difficulty removing the bacteria from the body. This NLRP6 plays a disastrous role in the entire process.”

New therapeutic track?

The discovery of Mohamed Lamkanfi is not insignificant. The first line treatment for bacterial infections is and will remain antibiotics, of course. However, due to the intensive use of antibiotics in the fight against infections, also the resistance of the bacteria grows against this group of medicines. Sometimes this makes it much more difficult for doctors to treat a patient efficiently.

Mohamed Lamkanfi: “Our search for products to help immune systems in the fight against bacterial infections is very important. In spite of the availability of antibiotics bacterial infections continue to pose a serious threat to public health all over the world. Now that we have exposed the role of the receptor protein NLRP6 in the immune response, we can start thinking about the clinical application thereof for the treatment of bacterial infections. A vaccine, in my opinion, seems less suitable, but a medicine that neutralizes the receptor protein NLRP6, is a possibility. Of course not in the immediate future, but it does deserve all the attention to research this further.”

 Bacteria - (c) VIB