In the continuing battle against antibiotic resistance, two new studies shed light on the complex defense mechanisms pathogenic bacteria use to evade antibiotic attack, an understanding of which could lead to new, more effective antibiotics to help save lives and combat the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. The studies, both of which target chemical components in the protective membrane surrounding bacterial cells, will appear in the February 17 inaugural print issue of ACS Chemical Biology, a new monthly publication of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.
In one study, researchers from the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy in Ann Arbor and the Borstel Research Center in Germany genetically engineered a strain of E. coli so that it lacks its normal outer protective layer of lipopolysaccharides, complex structures that help them defend against antibiotic attack. Removal of this layer is believed to make E. coli and other gram-negative bacteria more vulnerable to antibiotic attack, the scientists say.
"The study is further proof-of-principle that the spectrum of activity of antibiotics can be significantly extended by targeting the formation of lipopolysaccharides in the outer membrane," says study co-author Timothy C. Meredith, Ph.D., a medicinal chemist who conducted the research as a doctoral student at the University of Michigan with Ron Woodard, Ph.D., a professor of medicinal chemistry at the university. Meredith is currently a researcher at Harvard Medical School in Boston.
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