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article imageNew generation of antibiotics considered

By Tim Sandle     Jul 4, 2014 in Science
A new approach in tackling and destroying antibiotic resistant bacteria is being considered. New research reveals an Achilles' heel in the defensive barrier that surrounds drug-resistant bacterial cells.
For the research, scientists examined bacteria with particularly strong outer membranes. This outer membrane acts as a defensive barrier against attacks from the human immune system and antibiotic drugs. It allows the pathogenic bacteria to survive. However, research has also shown that removing this barrier causes the bacteria to become more vulnerable and die.
This is fine in theory; however, little has been known about exactly how the defensive barrier is built. The new findings reveal how bacterial cells transport the barrier building blocks (called lipopolysaccharides) to the outer surface.
Understanding this has allowed scientists to identify the path and gate used by the bacteria to transport the barrier building blocks to the outer surface. Pinpointing this area means that drugs can be developed to target this weak point.
Antimicrobial resistance describes the ability of a microorganism to resist the action of antimicrobial drugs. In some instances some microorganisms are naturally resistant to particular antimicrobial agents; in other instances, the genes of non-disease-causing bacteria can be transferred to pathogenic bacteria, leading to patterns of clinically significant antibiotic resistance. Since the 1990s antibiotic resistance has been of concern for scientists and health policy makers.
The findings have been published in the journal Nature, in a paper titled “Structural basis for outer membrane lipopolysaccharide insertion.”
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