Research Highlights | Published:


Cell decoys capture toxins

Nature volume 515, page 166 (13 November 2014) | Download Citation

Specially designed lipid sacs bind to deadly bacterial toxins in infected mice, helping the animals to clear the pathogen.

Certain bacteria release toxins that kill host cells by binding to the cell membrane. Eduard Babiychuk at the University of Bern, Switzerland, and his team created liposomes — artificial spheres made of cholesterol and other lipids found in cell membranes — to act as decoys and bind the toxins.

In a lab dish, the liposomes captured various bacterial toxins, protecting human cells. In mice infected with Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphyloccocus aureus, the liposomes stopped the animals getting blood poisoning, whereas untreated animals died in under two days.

Such liposomes, already in use as drug carriers, could help to treat certain bacterial infections, the team says.

Nature Biotechnol. (2014)

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