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Are antibiotic-resistant bacteria no longer a danger?
A new method makes it possible to make antibiotics more effective and thus kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The researchers have now apparently developed an effective treatment option in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The current study by the University of North Carolina found that the use of special molecules made certain antibiotics against Staphylococcus aureus a hundred times more effective. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Cell Chemical Biology".
How do antibiotic-resistant bacteria develop?
Antibiotics are medicines to prevent and treat bacterial infections. If the bacteria change in response to these drugs, they become resistant to antibiotics. This means that they are very difficult to treat. Unfortunately, cases of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains continue to increase. One of the deadliest pathogens today is called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). It is a resistant type of bacteria that often affects healthcare patients and leads to potentially life-threatening infections.
How can antibiotic-resistant bacteria be treated?
There is a great need for new methods of killing bacteria that are resistant to standard antibiotics. A change in membrane permeability to induce aminoglycoside uptake is an extremely effective strategy against Staphylococcus aureus, the researchers report. So-called rhamnolipids successfully loosen the outer membranes of the bacteria, making aminoglycoside molecules easier and faster to penetrate. The new method could help many people with so-called super-pathogens, who often develop serious complications because they cannot be treated. This could save the lives of many affected people worldwide.
Why don't many treatments work on Staphylococcus strains?
Typical treatments for many Staphylococcus strains cannot kill the bacteria due to two factors: antibiotic resistance or less susceptibility. The bacterium can adapt its metabolism so that it survives even in oxygen-poor areas, for example in the mucus-filled lungs of people with cystic fibrosis. In this case, the bacteria adapt to their environment and make the outer wall or membrane impervious to aminoglycoside antibiotics (including tobramycin). The researchers found in their current study that rhamnolipids can increase the effectiveness of tobramycin against the bacteria.
Combination of antibiotics with rhamnolipids improved effect
In a series of experiments, the researchers tested rhamnolipid-tobramycin combinations against Staphylococcus aureus, whereby the bacteria were difficult to eliminate using conventional methods. They found that rhamnolipids improved the effectiveness of tobramycin against Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA, tobramycin-resistant S. aureus strains from cystic fibrosis patients, and some moderately antibiotic-resistant strains. Doses of tobramycin, which normally had little or no effect on these Staphylococcus aureus populations, quickly killed them in combination with rhamnolipids, the research group reports.
The rhamnolipids successfully loosen the outer membranes of the bacteria, making the antibiotic easier and faster to penetrate. The team tested several antibiotics, including tobramycin, amikacin, gentamicin, and kanamycin, all of which were more potent. The effectiveness of the antibiotics was not only increased against Staphylococcus aureus, but also against other types of bacteria, such as Clostridium difficile.
More research is needed
Since there are a large number of interactions between bacteria that can affect the effectiveness of antibiotics, further research is needed to improve the effectiveness of current therapeutic agents and to slow the increase in antibiotic resistance, the researchers explain. The new approach to improving antibiotic effectiveness is extremely promising here. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Lauren C. Radlinski, Sarah E. Rowe, Robert Brzozowski, Rennica Huang, Prahathees Eswara et al .: Chemical Induction of Aminoglycoside Uptake Overcomes Antibiotic Tolerance and Resistance in Staphylococcus aureus; in Cell Chemical Biology (query: 16.08.2019), Cell Chemical Biology