New tactic to disarm superbugs
Toronto: A new tactic to disarm harmful bacteria may permit the body`s immune system to destroy them, rather than use drugs to kill them.
Christian Baron, professor of biochemistry at the University of Montreal, who devised the new tactic, said: "One could imagine harmful bacteria being like Darth Vader (central character in Star Wars saga), and the anti-virulence drug would take away his armour and lightsaber."
"A naked Darth Vader (stripped of protective armour) would be an easy target and similarly, pathogenic bacteria without their virulence factors would be rendered harmless and eliminated by our immune system," said Baron, according to the journal Chemistry & Biology.
Virulence factors are what make certain bacteria harmful to our bodies and different from most bacteria that live on our body or inside the intestinal system, which are harmless or even useful, according to a Montreal statement.
Infectious diseases caused by pathogenic bacteria were a major scourge of mankind, but thanks to the introduction of antibiotics beginning the middle of the 20th century, most bacterial infections were largely controlled.
"Bacteria have the capacity to develop resistance to antibiotics and they transfer this capacity to their offspring and to other bacteria," said Baron.
As a consequence, resistance began to emerge among the bacteria soon after the introduction of antibiotics," Baron said.
In their worst forms, "superbugs" have emerged, resistant to all but a few or even to all antibiotics.
Baron`s strategy has many advantages. Developing a course of treatment for infection from bacteria that have developed resistance would be slow, if at all. The new strategy would leave virulent bacteria harmless, just like those that live in our gut.