New means to fight “un-killable” bacteria in healthcare settings
Scientists at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) have identified new means of fighting drug-tolerant bacteria, a growing global threat as menacing as drug-resistant microbes. Little is known about the mechanisms leading to tolerance, a strategy that makes bacteria “indifferent” to antibiotics and almost “un-killable,” which results in chronic infections extremely difficult to treat and cure.
Dr. Dao Nguyen, scientist from the Translational Research in Respiratory Diseases Program at the RI-MUHC and associate professor of Medicine at McGill University
The RI-MUHC’s research team discovered a new cellular target that can weaken the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a daunting microbe which can become highly tolerant to many antibiotics, and thus refractory to antibiotic therapy. The team’s findings are published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
“We identified a new function important to antibiotic tolerance, which could be targeted to enhance the activity of our current antibiotics,” says lead study author Dr. Dao Nguyen, a scientist from the Translational Research in Respiratory Diseases Program at the RI-MUHC and an associate professor of Medicine at McGill University. “This is critical if we want to improve the efficacy of our antibiotics and prevent such treatments from failing.”
P. aeruginosa lung infection, is the leading cause of death for thousands of people living with cystic fibrosis. This bacterium also causes many other serious infections in people with weakened defenses and immune system.
“P. aeruginosa causes lifelong lung infections in individuals with cystic fibrosis, and these infections cannot be cleared, even by cocktails of the most potent antibiotics available,” says Dr. Nguyen, who is also a respirologist at the McGill University Health Centre.
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