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X-ray method could help combat antibiotic resistance

Posted on 11 months ago by Laurentina Kennedy The RFT Group 012302400

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X-ray method could help combat antibiotic resistance

Updated / Wednesday, 9 Aug 2017 14:26

 

Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem which the World Health Organisation says poses an enormous threat

Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem which the World Health Organisation says poses an enormous threat

Irish based scientists have used a new method of X-raying to learn more about potentially lethal bacteria that are resistant to certain antibiotics.

The development could in time be used to help develop new drugs to tackle infections from the bugs.

The researchers at Trinity College Dublin employed next-generation crystallography to look inside the resistant and potentially dangerous bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli.

They were then able to produce a molecular blueprint of the bacteria which the team says could in future be used to design drugs to kill them.

In particular, they found that an enzyme called Lnt found in both bacterium is very similar structurally, but with some key differences.

"The structural blueprints of the two bacteria -- while very similar -- differ in their fine detail," said Fellow Emeritus in Trinity's School of Biochemistry and Immunology, Professor Martin Caffrey.

"These subtle differences might be exploited to design species-specific therapies with a reduced likelihood of the development of antibiotic resistance."

However, developing a drug from the discovery could prove difficult and the focus of the team's work will now turn to devising ways around the problems.

In particular, the drug would have to be incredibly targeted to ensure it doesn't impact other important enzymes in the body.

It would also have to be designed in a way that it wouldn't inhibit the natural immune response.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli are resistant to a range of the best antibiotics which until now had been used to treat them.

As a result, tens of thousands of patients fall ill and die every year because the bacteria cannot be defeated.

The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.