Antibiotic-resistant infections are on the rise, foiling efforts to reduce death rates in developing countries where uncontrolled use of antibiotics and poor sanitation run amok. The epidemic of ‘superbugs,’ bacteria resistant to antibiotics, knows no borders, presenting a clear and present danger around the globe. A groundbreaking discovery from Tel Aviv University researchers may strengthen efforts by the medical community to fight this looming superbug pandemic. By sequencing the DNA of bacteria resistant to viral toxins, TAU researchers identified novel proteins capable of stymieing growth in treacherous antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The research is published in PNAS.
The team explained that because bacteria and bacterial viruses have co-evolved over billions of years, they suspected the viruses might contain precisely the weapons necessary to fight the bacteria. So the researchers systematically screened for such proteins in the bacterial viruses for over two and a half years.
Using high-throughput DNA sequencing, the researchers located mutations in bacterial genes that resisted the toxicity of growth inhibitors produced by bacterial viruses. In this way, the team identified a new small protein, growth inhibitor gene product (Gp) 0.6, which specifically targets and inhibits the activity of a protein essential to bacterial cells.
The inhibitor was found to cripple the activity of a protein vital to bacterial cells, a protein that maintains the bacterial cell structure. Malfunction of this bacterial protein consequently resulted in the rupture and consequent death of the bacterial cell. The team hope that their approach will be used to further identify new growth inhibitors and their targets across bacterial species and in higher organisms.
The researchers are continuing their study of bacterial viruses in the hope of identifying compounds and processes that facilitate improved treatment of antibiotic-resistant bacteria using yet uncharacterized bacterial viruses’ proteins. They believe that further basic knowledge on bacterial viruses biology will eventually lead to unexpected breakthroughs in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Michelle Petersen is the founder of Healthinnovations, having worked in the health and science industry for over 21 years, which includes tenure within the NHS and Oxford University. Healthinnovations is a publication that has reported on, influenced, and researched current and future innovations in health for the past decade.
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Michelle Petersen’s copy was used in the highly successful marketing campaign for the mega-hit film ‘Jumanji: The Next Level, starring Jack Black, Karen Gilian, Kevin Hart and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Michelle Petersen’s copywriting was part of the film’s coverage by the Republic TV network. Republic TV is the most-watched English language TV channel in India since its inception in 2017.
An avid campaigner in the fight against child sex abuse and trafficking, Michelle is a passionate humanist striving for a better quality of life for all humans by helping to provide traction for new technologies and techniques within healthcare.