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 firstname.lastname@example.orgSusan Emigh, Director, Health Sciences Public Relations, McMaster University
905-525-9140, ext. 22169, email@example.com
Susan Emigh | EurekAlert!
Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland
Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences