Washington: A novel technique is set to help researchers understand how antibiotics work, how bacteria develop resistance, and what molecular mechanisms could be exploited to get around their defence mechanisms.
Dr. Joseph Ndieyira, one of the developers involved in the technique, said that they are reporting a novel, nanomechanical approach to investigate the workings of vancomycin - one of the last powerful antibiotics used to combat increasingly-resistant infections like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
Using tiny cantilevers (or beams) no wider then a human hair, Ndieyira and his colleagues take advantage of the cellular stress that antibiotics, when effective, impose on a target bacteria's cell wall. Such stress in turn causes the cantilevers to bend. Using lasers, the bending can then be measured-providing tremendous insight into the drug-target interaction.
According to Ndieyira, the cantilever technology confronts a growing problem of multidrug-resistant hospital superbugs.
It could aid in the drug discovery process by preventing lead-drug candidates from being disregarded due to a lack of equipment with sufficient sensitivity, and its hope is to jumpstart an already stagnated drug-pipeline by providing this sensitivity in an efficient manner-the cantilever method can simultaneously measure and track a variety of drug-bacteria interactions in real time.
Ndieyira said that the cantilever assays provide a resolution that simply cannot be obtained with conventional methods, like those using fluorescence.
The study is set to be published in JoVE, the Journal of Visualized Experiments.