Stony Brook, N.Y., October 3, 2018 – Antibiotic resistance is an urgent problem globally when treating many infections, and scientists continue to search for new ways to combat resistance. Now a team of scientists led by David Thanassi, PhD, Chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Stony Brook University, believe a better understanding of the mechanisms of pili, the hair-like surface appendages on bacteria that initiate infection, could hold a key to developing new and more effective therapeutics. They published their findings in Nature.
Thanassi and colleagues used an advanced imaging technique called cryo-electron microscopy to examine pili assembled by uropathogenic strains of Escherichia coli, the major causative agent of urinary tract infections. Their imaging captured a previously unrecognized stage in the pilus assembly process.
“This discovery provides us with new insights into the mechanism by which bacteria build these essential virulence structures leading to infection,” says Thanassi, who emphasizes that antibiotic resistance rates have risen to alarming levels, jeopardizing the effective treatment of even common infections such as of the urinary tract.
“Our findings open the door to new therapies targeting bacterial pili, and related virulence factors, as an alternative to traditional antibiotics,” he explained.
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Stony Brook University is going beyond the expectations of what today’s public universities can accomplish. Since its founding in 1957, this young university has grown to become a flagship as one of only four University Center campuses in the State University of New York (SUNY) system with more than 26,000 students and 2,600 faculty members, and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs. Our faculty have earned numerous prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The University offers students an elite education with an outstanding return on investment: U.S. News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 50 public universities in the nation. Its membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. As part of the management team of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University joins a prestigious group of universities that have a role in running federal R&D labs. Stony Brook University is a driving force in the region’s economy, generating nearly 60,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of more than $4.6 billion. Our state, country and world demand ambitious ideas, imaginative solutions and exceptional leadership to forge a better future for all. The students, alumni, researchers and faculty of Stony Brook University are prepared to meet this challenge.