BEER-SHEVA, Israel–Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers discovered that alpha1-antitrypsin (AAT) could prevent deadly infections in immune system-compromised patients. The Journal of Infectious Diseases published the work of Dr. Eli C. Lewis and his team of BGU researchers (Ziv Kaner, David E. Ochayon, Galit Shahaf, Boris M. Baranovski, Nofar Bahar, Mark Mizrahi), who examined the effectiveness of AAT treatment in halting bacterial colonization and spread.
The initial aim was to exclude the possibility that AAT, an anti-inflammatory agent, might worsen infections in patients who are being treated with the drug. AAT is currently being used to treat new clinical indications like type 1 diabetes, emphysema and graft versus host disease (a condition that occurs with transplant rejection). Instead, the BGU research group unexpectedly discovered that treated mice combatted these lethal infections better than the untreated mice. The bacteria directly introduced were practically eradicated by AAT therapy within 24 hours. According to the researchers, “There were barely enough bacteria left to grow colonies on a plate.”
“Imagine if weak patients receive AAT prior to prolonged hospitalization in bacteria-rich hospital facilities,” says Dr. Lewis, head of the clinical islet laboratory at BGU. “Considering the current frustration with antibiotic development rate compared to bacterial resistance rates, the clinical implications are immense. There is significant demand for the availability of a safe, preemptive, readily accessible approach.”