Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New way to target and kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria found

11.07.2007
Putting bacteria on birth control could stop the spread of drug-resistant microbes, and researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have found a way to do just that.

The team discovered a key weakness in the enzyme that helps “fertile” bacteria swap genes for drug resistance. Drugs called bisphosphonates, widely prescribed for bone loss, block this enzyme and prevent bacteria from spreading antibiotic resistance genes, the research shows. Interfering with the enzyme has the added effect of annihilating antibiotic-resistant bacteria in laboratory cultures. Animal studies of the drugs are now underway.

“Our discoveries may lead to the ability to selectively kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria in patients, and to halt the spread of resistance in clinical settings,” said Matt Redinbo, Ph.D., senior study author and professor of chemistry, biochemistry and biophysics at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The study appears online the week of July 9, 2007, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health.

The study provides a new weapon in the battle against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which represent a serious public health problem. In the last decade, almost every type of bacteria has become more resistant to antibiotic treatment. These bugs cause deadly infections that are difficult to treat and expensive to cure.

Every time someone takes an antibiotic, the drug kills the weakest bacteria in the bloodstream. Any bug that has a protective mutation against the antibiotic survives. These drug-resistant microbes quickly accumulate useful mutations and share them with other bacteria through conjugation – the microbe equivalent of mating.

Conjugation starts when two bacteria smoosh their membranes together. After each opens a hole in their membrane, one squirts a single strand of DNA to the other. Then the two go on their merry way, one with new genes for traits such as drug resistance. Many highly-drug resistant bacteria rely on an enzyme, called DNA relaxase, to obtain and pass on their resistance genes. A mutation that provides antibiotic resistance can sweep through a colony as quickly as the latest YouTube hit.

The researchers analyzed relaxase because it plays a crucial role in conjugation. The enzyme starts and stops the movement of DNA between bacteria. “Relaxase is the gatekeeper, and it is also the Achilles’ heel of the resistance process,” Redinbo said.

Led by graduate student Scott Lujan, the team suspected they could block relaxase by searching for vulnerability in a three-dimensional picture of the relaxase protein. Lujan, a biochemistry graduate student in the School of Medicine, confirmed the hunch using x-ray crystallography, which creates nanoscale structural images of the enzyme.

The researchers predicted that the enzyme’s weak link is the spot where it handles DNA. Relaxase must juggle two phosphate-rich DNA strands at the same time. The team suspected a chemical decoy – a phosphate ion – could plug this dual DNA binding site. Redinbo, who has a background in cancer and other disease-related research, realized that bisphosphonates were the right-size decoy.

There are several bisphosphonates on the market; two proved effective. The drugs, called clodronate and etidronate, steal the DNA binding site, preventing relaxase from handling DNA. This wreaks havoc inside E. coli bacteria that are preparing to transfer their genes, the researchers found. Exactly how bisphosphonates destroy each bacterium is still unknown, Redinbo said, but the drugs are potent, wiping out any E. coli carrying relaxase. “That it killed bacteria was a surprise,” he said. By targeting these bacteria, the drugs act like birth control and prevent antibiotic resistance from spreading.

Redinbo, who cautions that the results only apply to E. coli, said further testing will reveal whether bisphosphonates also attack similar species like Acinetobacter baumannii (hospital-acquired pneumonia), Staphylococcus aureus (staph infections) and Burkholderia (lung infections).

“We hope this discovery will help existing antibiotics or offer a new treatment for antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” he said.

The drugs may be most effective at sites where clinicians can best control dosage – on skin and in the gastrointestinal tract, Redinbo said. Other applications may include disinfectants and treatments for farm animals.

Study coauthors, all from UNC-Chapel Hill, include Laura Guogas, Heather Ragonese and Steven Matson. Redinbo is a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Redinbo and his colleagues have filed a patent and formed a small company to further develop the technology.

Becky Oskin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unc.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>