New insight for fighting superbugs

22 September 2014

The emergence of bacteria that are able to resist antibiotics has been damaging to medicine, which is made worse by the lack of new pharmaceuticals being developed to tackle these superbugs.

However, research conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) could offer potential for treating these drug-resistant strains of bacteria. Using a gene-editing system that can disable any target gene, the team have demonstrated the ability to selectively kill bacteria carrying harmful genes. This could stop cells that spread antibiotic resistance or that trigger disease.

Reported in Nature Biotechnology, the study built on previous work conducted by Timothy Lu, an associate professor of biological engineering and electrical engineering and computer science. The research identified multiple genes that can work together to make bacteria more vulnerable to antibiotics as a different approach to combating the problem.

Professor Lu hopes that both technologies will lead to new drugs to help fight the growing crisis posed by drug-resistant bacteria.

"This is a pretty crucial moment when there are fewer and fewer new antibiotics available, but more and more antibiotic resistance evolving," he said. "We've been interested in finding new ways to combat antibiotic resistance, and these papers offer two different strategies for doing that."

Posted by Philip Briggs​

 

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