“Enzyme in bacteria initiates repair of cell walls damaged by antibiotics”

Beta-lactam antibiotics, including penicillin, are one of the most widely used class of antibiotics in the world. Though they’ve been in use since the 1940s, scientists still don’t fully understand what happens when this class of drugs encounters bacteria.

Now, researchers at the University of Notre Dame have elucidated how an enzyme helps bacteria rebound from damage inflicted by antibiotics not strong enough to immediately kill the bacteria on contact.

According to the study published April 9, 2018 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an enzyme in the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa rapidly attempts to repair cell wall damage from certain antibiotics, if those antibiotics aren’t potent enough to immediately kill the bacteria. The repaired cell wall allows the bacterium to survive, and the infection to proceed unabated.

“It’s a survival strategy,” said by Shahriar Mobashery, the Navari Family Professor in Life Sciences at the University of Notre Dame and the lead of the study. “The cell wall is the structural entity that encases the entire bacterium and its health is critical for the survival of the bacteria. If you have a drug that inflicts damage to the cell wall, the bacterium cannot cope with it, and it dies.”

P. aeruginosa is one of the “nightmare bacteria” highlighted in a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report stated that lab tests had found “unusual resistance more than 200 times in 2017 in ‘nightmare bacteria’ alone.”

Source: University of Notre Dame


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