ANTIBIOTIC resistance is a major cause for concern in modern medicine, with the responsible use of antibiotics being advocated for worldwide. A team of scientists from the University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany, have investigated how to improve the effectiveness of antibiotics in bacterial infection, and have published their latest approach.
The rationale behind the study included the scientists wanting to “know how genetic disorders in the bacterium Escherichia coli interact with the later evolutionary adaption to the drug,” said Prof Tobias Bollenbach, University of Cologne. The team developed a robotic platform with which they simultaneously created hundreds of genetically altered E. coli populations.
A prototypical pattern in the development of resistance was identified: bacterial strains that reacted more sensitively at the initial drug exposure then developed a greater resistance to the drug during the course of the evolutionary experiment. The researchers then focussed on the conditions under which this pattern is broken and no resistance develops. They showed that the pattern breaks with no development of resistance when the bacterium exhibits specific functional disorders. Areas of the membrane transport and chaperones, which are integral to the error-free protein production, were identified. These areas can be molecular targets for future antibiotics because if the function is not fully intact, the antibiotic can kill the bacteria more effectively.
Marta Lukačišinová, doctoral researcher of the study, University of Cologne, added: “Our most important result was that we found an entry point for suppressing the spontaneous development of resistance to the administered drug.”