Synthetic sugar molecules can stave off hospital germs: Study

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Hospitals are the place where we go to get better but there are chances that we may get sick from the germs that we pick up there.

Such infections are known as Nosocomial infections- caused by pathogens and bacteria that easily spreads through the body.


The deadly gut bacterium Clostridium difficile (C. difficile, or C. diff) infects a large proportion of patients in hospitals and becomes incurable, as the bacteria tends to develop resistance to antibiotics.

As per a CNN report, after heart disease, cancer and strokes, deaths caused by hospital acquired infections registers highest number of mortality rates in America.


Recently, scientists from Max Planck Institute of Colloids invented a synthetic sugar molecule that protects patients against C. Difficile.

This molecule develops immune response against the gut bacteria, acting as a vaccine against infection.

Once the immune system has produced antibodies against a pathogen, it can fend off the invaders in the event of a later infection.
The molecule can be thus also administered to sick patients to boost their immune system and combat other infections.


For the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, the team investigated parts of the sugar coating necessary to trigger an immune response in mice.

Then they constructed an artificial molecule with the sugars attached to an amino acid backbone.

The mice were then treated with the artificial molecule, which produced antibodies effective against C. difficile when they were exposed to it.

Coupled with an immunostimulating peptide, the molecule stimulated the immune system in mice to produce antibodies that were effective against the similarly constructed surface sugars of C. difficile.

The mice are therefore protected against a subsequent infection with the bacterium.

(With IANS inputs)

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