Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Quantitative Approaches Provide New Perspective on Development of Antibiotic Resistance

29.11.2013
Using quantitative models of bacterial growth, a team of UC San Diego biophysicists has discovered the bizarre way by which antibiotic resistance allows bacteria to multiply in the presence of antibiotics, a growing health problem in hospitals and nursing homes across the United States.

Two months ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a sobering report estimating that antibiotic-resistant bacteria last year caused more than two million illnesses and approximately 23,000 deaths in the United States. Treating these infections, the report said, added $20 billion last year to our already overburdened health care system.


The researchers found a range of drug doses for which genetically identical bacterial cells exhibited drastically different behaviors: while a substantial fraction of cells stopped growing despite carrying the resistance gene, other cells continued to grow at a high rate—a phenomenon called “growth bistability.” Credit: J. Barrett Deris

Many approaches are now being employed by public health officials to limit the spread of antibiotic resistance in bacteria—such as limiting the use of antibiotics in livestock, controlling prescriptions of antibiotics and developing new drugs against bacteria already resistant to conventional drug treatments. But understanding how bacteria grow and evolve drug resistance could also help stop its spread by allowing scientists to target the process of evolution itself.

“Understanding how bacteria harboring antibiotic resistance grow in the presence of antibiotics is critical for predicting the spread and evolution of drug resistance,” the UC San Diego scientists say in an article published in the November 29 issue of the journal Science.

In their study, the researchers found that the expression of antibiotic resistance genes in strains of the model bacterium E. coli depends on a complex relationship between the bacterial colony’s growth status and the effectiveness of the resistance mechanism.

“In the course of developing complete resistance to a drug, a strain of bacteria often first acquires a mechanism with very limited efficacy,” says Terry Hwa, a professor of physics and biology who headed the research effort. “While much effort has been spent elucidating individually how a drug inhibits bacterial growth and how a resistance mechanism neutralizes the action of a drug, little is known previously about how the two play off of each other during the critical phase where drug resistance evolves towards full strength.”

According to Hwa, the interaction between drug and drug-resistance is complex because the degree of drug resistance expressed in a bacterium depends on its state of growth, which in turn depends on the efficacy of drug, with the latter depending on the expression of drug resistance itself. For a class of common drugs, the researchers realized that this chain of circular relations acted effectively to promote the efficacy of drug resistance for an intermediate range of drug doses.

The use of predictive quantitative models was instrumental in guiding the researchers to formulate critical experiments to dissect this complexity. In their experiments, E. coli cells possessing varying degrees of resistance to an antibiotic were grown in carefully controlled environments kept at different drug doses in “microfluidic” devices—which permitted the researchers to manipulate tiny amounts of fluid and allowed them to continuously observe the individual cells.

Hwa and his team found a range of drug doses for which genetically identical bacterial cells exhibited drastically different behaviors: while a substantial fraction of cells stopped growing despite carrying the resistance gene, other cells continued to grow at a high rate. This phenomenon, called “growth bistability,” occurred as quantitatively predicted by the researchers’ mathematical models, in terms of both the dependence on the drug dose, which is set by the environment, and on the degree of drug resistance a strain possesses, which is set by the genetic makeup of the strain and is subject to change during evolution.

“Exposing this behavior generates insight into the evolution of drug resistance,” says Hwa. “With this model we can chart how resistance is picked up and evaluate quantitatively the efficacy of a drug.” However, this model has only been established for one class of drugs and one class of drug-resistance mechanisms. Hwa believes it is important to establish such predictive models for all the common drugs in pathogenic bacterial species.

“My hope,” he adds, “is to get the message out to drug companies and hospitals that there is an informative, quantitative way to look at the action of a drug on bacteria and at the consequences of using a drug on bacteria as they try to pick up resistance, and that this approach can be incorporated in both the design and evaluation of drug efficacy in clinically relevant settings.”

Hwa says the principle of interaction between drug and drug-resistance is important to understand not only for the evolution of antibiotics, but also for the emergence of drug resistance in other diseases. A prominent example is the rapid emergence of cancer lines resistant to drug treatment, which underlies most failures in cancer drug therapies. While there are obviously numerous differences between the evolution of drug resistance in bacteria and in cancer, Hwa noted that the connection between the two was sufficient to motivate the Physical Science-Oncology program of the National Cancer Institute to co-sponsor this study.

Other UC San Diego scientists involved in the discovery were J. Barrett Deris, Minsu Kim, Zhongge Zhang, Hiroyuki Okano, Rutger Hermsen and Alexander Groisman, an associate professor of physics at UC San Diego. Funding for the study was provided by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

Media Contact
Kim McDonald, 858-534-7572, kmcdonald@ucsd.edu

Kim McDonald | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucsd.edu
http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/pressrelease/quantitative_approaches_provide_new_perspective_on_development_of_antibioti

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bolstering fat cells offers potential new leukemia treatment
17.10.2017 | McMaster University

nachricht Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes
17.10.2017 | King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Neutrons observe vitamin B6-dependent enzyme activity useful for drug development

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA finds newly formed tropical storm lan over open waters

17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>