Hybrid immune cells created to target MRSA

Scientific researchers created a hybrid cell fusing components of viruses that attack bacteria with human immune cells, according to a study published in Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences.

One of the components of viruses that prey upon bacteria involves the targeting of specific carbohydrate molecules on the surface of bacteria cells. Human immune cells lack this capability.

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"Bacteria-infecting viruses have molecules that recognize and tightly bind to these common components of the bacterial cell's surface that the human immune system largely misses," said Vincent A. Fischetti, PhD head of the Laboratory of Bacterial Pathogenesis and Immunology at Rockefeller University in New York City. "We have co-opted these molecules, and we've put them to work helping the human immune system fight off microbial pathogens."

In mice, the hybrid cells successfully treated life-threatening methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. The cells latched on to the carbohydrates on the surface of the bacteria and subsequently induced an immune response, destroying the bacterial cells.

"This approach could make it possible to develop a new class of immune boosting therapies for infectious diseases," Dr. Fischetti said.

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