International Microbiology, Vol 7, No 3 (2004)

Streptococcus pneumoniae and its bacteriophages: one long argument

Rubens López


Infectious diseases currently kill more than 15 million people annually, and the WHO estimates that every year 1.6 million people die from pneumococcal diseases. Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus), a bacterium with a long biological pedigree, best illustrates the rapid evolution of antibiotic resistance, which has led to major public health concern. This article discusses the molecular basis of the two main virulence factors of pneumococcus, the capsule and cell-wall hydrolases, as well as new approaches to developing medicinal weapons for preventing pneumococcal infections. In addition, current knowledge regarding pneumococcal phages as potential contributors to virulence and the use of lytic enzymes encoded by these phages as therapeutic tools is reviewed. [Int Microbiol 2004; 7(3):163–171]

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