New Class of Potentially Pathogenic Bacterium Identified


Novel class of potentially pathogenic bacterium detected in the saliva of the children suffering from Acute Leukemia.

The discovery was made by Human Microbiology Institute (HMI) team of researchers and they suspect this to be linked with deadly drug resistant pneumonia in patients suffering from blood cancer. The abstract was presented at ASM Microbe 2016 meet.

The bacterium named as Paenibacillus sp. VT 400, isolated from saliva of children was a spore forming bacterium, with chemotherapy as well as antibiotic resistant genes and small amount of multidrug resistance protein which was previously never detected in humans. 

Paenibacillus sp. strain VT-400 was a novel bacterium isolated from the saliva of children with hematological malignancies and investigated for its pneumonia-causing ability by the core team of HMI.

Paenibacillus sp. strain VT-400

Figure 1. Dendrogram illustrating the relationship of Paenibacillus sp. strain VT 400 to the most closely related Paenibacillus sequences deposited in Gen Bank. The tree is based on partial 16S rRNA sequences >1400 bp (photo credit: Gut Pathogens. 2016;8:6. doi:10.1186/s13099-016-0089-1).

We are very excited by this new discovery,” said Victor Tetz, head of HMI’s scientific core. “We are seeing a strong potential in studying this bacteria for medicine, as it could be linked to the deadly pneumonias and with the development of the oncological condition itself. We should remember that this is a spore-forming bacteria, which is not susceptible to antibiotics“.

The data of the study mentioned in “HMI Newsroom” by these researchers indicate the presence of virulence factor hemolysin D and CD4+ T cell-stimulating antigen, along with antibiotic resistance genes. The presence of the virulence factor resulted in significant mortality rate in the targeted organisms.

The head of the R&D team George Tetz is confident that the discovery of the bacteria Paenibacillus sp. strain VT-400 is a very crucial discovery and with this they have reached the milestone where the unknown respiratory pathogen which were previously difficult to study and treat can be studied, researched and treated.

The team of researchers are not only studying the bacterium for potential cause and effect on lung infection but also for the possible effect of the bacterium on cancer. The team believes that the latest breakthrough discovery has the potential to pave way for the development of novel drugs against cancer.

Pneumocystis pneumonia current

Figure 2. Current insights into the biology and pathogenesis of Pneumocystis pneumonia (photo credit: Nat Rev Microbiol. 2007 Apr;5(4):298-308).

In acute leukemia patients one of the reasons of death is infection caused by pneumonia. The research is still ongoing and definitely in its early stage but with the discovery of this potential pathogenic bacterium Paenibacillus sp. VT 400 the cure for severe lung infections and acute lymphoblastic leukemia is not out of reach and the hope to stop so many deaths every year has surely increased.

Featured image credit: Growing Bacteria in Petri Dishes on agar gel as a part of scientific experiment. © kasto (Stock Photo ID: 59955725)

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