Drug-resistant bacteria`s `Achilles heel` discovered
Washington: Researchers at the University of East Anglia have claimed to have discovered an Achilles' heel in the defensive barrier which surrounds drug-resistant bacterial cells.
The findings pave the way for a new wave of drugs that kill superbugs by bringing down their defensive walls rather than attacking the bacteria itself. It means that in future, bacteria may not develop drug-resistance at all.
Researchers investigated a class of bacteria called 'Gram-negative bacteria' which is particularly resistant to antibiotics because of its cells' impermeable lipid-based outer membrane.
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, but removing this barrier causes the bacteria to become more vulnerable and die.
The new findings reveal how bacterial cells transport the barrier building blocks (called lipopolysaccharides) to the outer surface.
Group leader Prof Changjiang Dong , from UEA's Norwich Medical School, said: "We have identified the path and gate used by the bacteria to transport the barrier building blocks to the outer surface. Importantly, we have demonstrated that the bacteria would die if the gate is locked."
The study has been published in the journal Nature.