Research ArticleDrug Development

Gallium disrupts bacterial iron metabolism and has therapeutic effects in mice and humans with lung infections

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Science Translational Medicine  26 Sep 2018:
Vol. 10, Issue 460, eaat7520
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aat7520

Deceiving bacteria with gallium

Bacterial resistance to available antibiotics is emerging worldwide, and there are few new antibiotics in the pipeline. Goss et al. have developed an unconventional strategy for treating bacterial infections. They report that disruption of bacterial iron metabolism by substituting iron with the metal gallium resulted in reduced survival of bacteria in vitro. Gallium also showed antibiotic activity against bacteria in sputum samples from patients with cystic fibrosis and in mouse models of airway infection. In a phase 1 clinical trial, gallium had therapeutic effects without toxicity in cystic fibrosis patients infected with Pseudomonas, suggesting that gallium may be useful for treating bacterial infections.

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