A specific molecule produced by the body can fight against superbugs - a common term used today to describe strains of bacteria that are resistant to the majority of antibiotics- a new study has found.
The molecule LL-37 changes the way cells behave when they are invaded by bacteria and can help combat superbugs, scientists have found.
It acts as a fire alarm, warning the body's immune system of the infection and the need for urgent action, the study published in the Journal of PLOS Pathogens has found.
The researchers focused on lung diseases caused by bacterial infections, which are a major cause of deaths worldwide.
These infections are increasingly resistant to antibiotics, making them difficult to treat.
Previous studies with mice found that LL-37 instructs cells in an infected lung to call in specialised cells, known as neutrophils, which can destroy bacterial threats.
In tests on human lung cells, researchers found that LL-37 specifically targets infected cells, revealing the danger and producing a signal that summons the neutrophils.
At the same time, this flood of LL-37 into the infected cells causes them to self-destruct, removing the threat to other healthy cells before the bacteria can grow and spread.
Experts said this discovery could lead to new approaches to treat these multi-drug resistant infections.
Dr. Donald J. Davidson, one of the researchers said, "Our search for alternative and complementary treatments for antibiotic-resistant infections is becoming ever more urgent. Trying to boost the best of the human body's effective natural defenses, like this, may prove to be an important part of our future solutions.
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