Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

McMaster study unveils lifeline for 'antibiotic of last resort'

12.04.2010
Researchers identify the specific mechanism that triggers resistance to vancomycin

A new study led by the scientific director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research has uncovered for the first time how bacteria recognize and develop resistance to a powerful antibiotic used to treat superbug infections.

Gerry Wright, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University in collaboration with colleagues at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, and the University of Cambridge in the UK, have identified the specific mechanism that triggers resistance to vancomycin.

The discovery reveals new understanding about what is happening at the molecular level in vancomycin resistance. It also represents an essential first step in developing new antibiotics that can evade the sensing mechanism of bacteria and overcome resistance.

The research, funded in part by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canada Research Chairs program, will be published online in the high-impact journal Nature Chemical Biology on April 11, 2010.

"Vancomycin is the antibiotic of last resort and is only given when all other treatments fail," said Wright, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Molecular Studies of Antibiotics and an endowed research Chair in Infection and Anti-Infective Research.

"For years it was thought that resistance would be slow to emerge since vancomycin works in an unusual way. But with the widespread use of the drug to treat infections caused by the hospital superbug MRSA, it has become a serious clinical problem."

MRSA is the short-form for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, a bacterial infection that is highly resistant to some antibiotics. MRSA bacteria are responsible for a large percentage of hospital-acquired staph infections, but may also be acquired in the community.

Vancomycin is used to treat enterococcal infections that develop in patients following abdominal surgery. Enterococcal bacteria first developed resistance to vancomycin in 1986 and the first case of vancomycin-resistant MRSA (VMRSA) was reported in 2002.

For 20 years, scientists around the world have debated whether bacteria sense the drug itself to trigger resistance or whether they sense the impact it has on the cell wall of bacteria.

Most antibiotics work by inhibiting an enzyme but vancomycin binds to cell wall building blocks, causing a weakness in the structure of the cell wall so the cell bursts and dies.

Some scientists believed that bacteria detect the cell wall degradation to trigger resistance. Others argued that bacteria detect the presence of the drug directly.

Wright and his team studied the vancomycin-resistance mechanism in the harmless soil bacteria Streptomyces coelicolor.

The scientists showed that bacteria detect vancomycin itself. They also conducted preliminary experiments that suggest the same mechanism exists in disease causing bacteria.

"We have finally cracked the alarm system used by bacteria, and hopefully new antibiotics can be developed that don't set it off," said Mark Buttner, a study collaborator and senior scientist at the John Innes Centre.

Marc Ouellette, scientific director of the Institute of Infection and Immunity at the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), said the research findings shed new light on the antibiotic resistance issue.

"Thousands of Canadians die every year from antibiotic-resistant infections," Ouellette said. "This issue has long been a priority of the CIHR and this exciting work expands our understanding of how bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics. It lays the groundwork for developing new therapies to prevent and treat antibiotic-resistant infections."

Additional research support was received from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council of the UK, the Royal Society and the Medical Research Council (UK).

A photo of Dr. Wright can be downloaded at http://fhs.mcmaster.ca/media/media_20100409.html

For more information, please contact:

Gerry Wright, PhD, professor, Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University

(289) 439-0325 or wrightge@mcmaster.ca

Susan Emigh, Director, Health Sciences Public Relations, McMaster University
905-518-3642 or emighs@mcmaster.ca
Veronica McGuire, Media Relations Coordinator, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University

905-525-9140, ext. 22169, vmcguir@mcmaster.ca

Susan Emigh | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mcmaster.ca

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Real-time feedback helps save energy and water
08.02.2017 | Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>