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article imageHow bacteria avoid antimicrobials is revealed

By Tim Sandle     Dec 30, 2013 in Science
Tel Aviv - Types of bacteria, called ‘persistent strains’, can avoid antimicrobials be entering into a dormancy-like state, a new study has revealed.
So-termed "persistent bacteria" are a problem when it comes to antimicrobials. Such bacteria are not resistant to the antimicrobials, however they simply continue to exist in a dormant or inactive state while exposed to antibacterial treatment.
Until recently scientists did not how some bacteria ‘go to sleep’ and avoid the harmful chemicals. The answer comes down to a simple protein. This is a naturally occurring toxin HipA found in some bacteria.
Now research has shown that when antimicrobials attack these bacteria, the HipA toxin disrupts the chemical "messaging" process necessary for nutrients to build proteins. This is interpreted by the bacteria as a "hunger signal" and sends them into an inactive state, (dormancy) in which they are able to survive until the antibacterial treatment is over and they can resume their harmful activity.
The next step of the research will focus on combating persistent bacteria, in the hope of leading to more effective treatment for bacterial infections.
The research was undertaken at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
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