Using a sugar complex, researchers say they have succeeded in preventing the hospital-acquired bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa from entering host cells. P. aeruginosa is responsible for roughly 80 percent of pneumonia-induced deaths in cystic fibrosis patients and researchers believe their findings could be a breakthrough discovery.

Researchers identified a sugar complex that binds the bacterial protein LecA. This protein enables the “hospital germ” bacterium P. aeruginosa to invade human lung cells, but in tests conducted in cell culture, the researchers demonstrated that the germs penetrate into human lung cells 90% less often when treated with the sugar-based agent.

The scientists explain that binding to host cells via LecA is a significant path of invasion for P. aeruginosa in human lung cells, and hope their findings will lead to the development of a novel agent capable of substantially weakening the germ.