Monoclonal antibody targeting the β-barrel assembly machine of Escherichia coli is bactericidal.

Research Highlight

Bacteria-killing antibody drug

© VICTOR HABBICK VISIONS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty

© VICTOR HABBICK VISIONS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty

An antibody drug that targets and kills Escherichia coli bacteria could help overcome the scourge of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

Researchers from Genentech, a Roche subsidiary, have discovered a monoclonal antibody that selectively inhibits a protein that E. coli needs to properly fold and integrate other essential proteins on the bacterial surface.

On binding, the antibody disrupted the integrity of the outer membrane, leading to bacterial death. And even at sub-lethal doses, the antibody made the outer membrane more permeable to certain antibiotics, helping to lower the barrier for these other drugs to act.

The findings could pave the way for a new class of antibody-based therapeutics for fighting superbug infections. They also reveal a bacterial weakness that could be targeted with new types of small-molecule antibiotics.

Supported content

  1. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 115, 3692–3697 (2018). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1800043115
Institutions FC
Department of Antibody Engineering, Genentech, Inc., United States of America (USA) 0.39
Department of Infectious Diseases, Genentech, Inc., United States of America (USA) 0.33
Department of Protein Analytical Chemistry, Genentech, Inc., United States of America (USA) 0.11
Department of Structural Biology, Genentech, Inc., United States of America (USA) 0.11
Department of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Genentech, Inc., United States of America (USA) 0.06

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