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Scientists Develop Molecule That Attacks Natural Defenses of Giant Bacteria

Scientists Develop Molecule That Attacks Natural Defenses of Giant Bacteria

Friday, 20 September, 2019 - 07:45
Antibiotics | PHOTO: AFP
London- Asharq Al-Awsat
Scientists have developed a molecule that can penetrate the natural defenses of giant bacteria, giving a new lease of life to a "last-resort" antibiotic.

The molecule, created by researchers in Ireland and Spain, was given in conjunction with the antibiotic colistin, rendering it 16 times more effective than if it had been administered on its own.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an increasing global threat, with a recent report from the United Nations warning that if left unchecked it could kill 10 million people by 2050.

Resistance is bacteria's natural defense to the threat posed by antibiotics but alternatives to existing treatments are in desperately short supply, so adding new elements to an already commonly-used antibiotic is a promising step forward.

The study, published in the journal Future Medicinal Chemistry, shows how a combination of the drug and the molecule interferes with bacteria's natural communication system.

When some bacteria are under attack from an antibiotic they produce a signal which alerts them to the incoming danger. They then produce a biofilm that acts as a shield, stopping the antibiotic getting to the bacteria.

The new molecule overrides this system so the bacteria do not receive a signal to produce a biofilm, enabling the antibiotic to treat the infection.

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