Cystic fibrosis (CF) is characterised by recurring lung infections that drive disease progression. Staphylococcus aureus is a major cause of early infection in CF, secreting the pathogenic factor sphingomyelinase C (SMaseC).
Zhe Lu at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and team screened a chemical library of more than 2,000 naturally occurring chemicals and drugs. They found that tannic acid – a readily available and inexpensive natural product – was an SMaseC antidote, able to prevent the negative effects of the enzyme both in S. Aureus and in anthrax bacterium.
“Treatment with tannic acid may improve the outcome in a number of bacterial infections,” write Lu and co-authors in eLife
(online, 14 October 2014).
 Ramu Y, Xu Y, Shin H-G et al. Counteracting suppression of CFTR and voltage-gated K+ channels by a bacterial pathogenic factor with the natural product tannic acid. eLife 2014. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.03683 (accessed 14 October 2014).