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Enzyme is crucial for combatting antibiotic-resistant E. coli infections

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Credit: Dr Mark Shepherd

Research by bioscientists at the University of Kent and the University of Queensland is expected to pave the way for new approaches to kill bacteria that no longer respond to conventional antibiotics.

In a paper published by Scientific Reports, Kent's Dr Mark Shepherd and colleagues demonstrate the importance of an enzyme, cytochrome bd-I, for survival of E. coli that is resistant to multiple antibiotics.

E. coli causes serious conditions including sepsis, bladder infections, kidney failure, and dysentery. The human immune system produces nitric oxide to kill invading E. coli, and cytochrome bd-I is shown to provide significant resistance to nitric oxide during infection.

Since cytochrome bd-I is absent in humans, drugs designed to target this enzyme are less likely to be toxic to human cells. In future, targeting cytochrome bd-I with new drugs will render antibiotic-resistant bacteria more susceptible to attack from the host immune system.

Dr Shepherd is Lecturer in Microbial Biochemistry at Kent's School of Biosciences.

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'The cytochrome bd-I respiratory oxidase augments survival of multidrug-resistant Escherichia coli during infection' (Mark Shepherd, Maud E. S. Achard, Adi Idris, Makrina Totsika, Minh-Duy Phan, Kate M. Peters, Sohinee Sarkar, Claudia A. Ribeiro, Louise V. Holyoake, Dimitrios Ladakis, Glen C. Ulett, Matthew J. Sweet, Robert K Poole, Alastair G. McEwan & Mark A. Schembri) is published at http://www.nature.com/articles/srep35285
DOI:10.1038/srep35285

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Established in 1965, the University of Kent – the UK's European university – now has almost 20,000 students across campuses or study centres at Canterbury, Medway, Tonbridge, Brussels, Paris, Athens and Rome.

It has been ranked: 23rd in the Guardian University Guide 2016; 23rd in the Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2016; and 22nd in the Complete University Guide 2015.

In the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2015-16, Kent is in the top 10% of the world's leading universities for international outlook and 66th in its table of the most international universities in the world. The THE also ranked the University as 20th in its 'Table of Tables' 2016.

Kent is ranked 17th in the UK for research intensity (REF 2014). It has world-leading research in all subjects and 97% of its research is deemed by the REF to be of international quality.

In the National Student Survey 2016, Kent achieved the fourth highest score for overall student satisfaction, out of all publicly funded, multi-faculty universities.

Along with the universities of East Anglia and Essex, Kent is a member of the Eastern Arc Research Consortium.

The University is worth £0.7 billion to the economy of the south east and supports more than 7,800 jobs in the region. Student off-campus spend contributes £293.3m and 2,532 full-time-equivalent jobs to those totals.

In 2014, Kent received its second Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.

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