“Last resort” antibiotics pop out bacteria like balloons

Superbug Pseudomonas aeruginosa that can cause lung infections in people wearing ventilators in the intensive care unit. Credit: Imperial College London

Scientists have shown how “last resort” antibiotics kill bacteria.

Findings from Imperial College London and the University of Texas may also reveal potential ways to make antibiotics more powerful.

The antibiotic colistin has become a last resort for infections caused by some of the world’s most annoying super bugs. However, despite being discovered over 70 years ago, the process by which this antibiotic kills bacteria has been a mystery to date.

Researchers now show that colistin pierces bacteria and pops out like balloons.Works funded by the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust and published in journals eLifeWe have also identified ways to make antibiotics more effective in killing bacteria.

Colistin was first described in 1947 and is effective against many of the most deadly superbugs, including Escherichia coli, which can cause fatal infections of the bloodstream, and the frequently infected Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumani. It is one of the few antibiotics. Lungs of people using a ventilator in the intensive care unit.

These super bugs have two “skins” called membranes. Colistin punctures both membranes and kills bacteria. However, while colistin was known to target a chemical called lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and damage the outer membrane, it was unclear how the inner membrane was penetrated.

Superbug Pseudomonas aeruginosa after being “popped” by the antibiotic colistin. Credit: Imperial College London

Currently, a team led by Dr. Andrew Edwards of the Imperial Department of Infectious Diseases has shown that they are also targeting endometrial LPS, despite the scarcity of colistin.

Dr. Edwards said: “It is clear that colistin damages both membranes in the same way, but it has always been assumed that colistin damages the two membranes in different ways. It is not possible because the endometrium has very little LPS. It seemed possible, and was very skeptical at first. However, by changing the amount of LPS in the endometrium and chemically changing it in the laboratory, colistin was actually the skin of both bacteria. Could be shown to pierce in the same way, and this kills the super bug. “

The team then decided to use this new information to see if they could find a way to make colistin more effective in killing bacteria.

They focused on a bacterium called Pseudomonas aeruginosa that causes serious lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis. They found that a new experimental antibiotic called murepavadin causes the accumulation of LPS in the internal organs of the bacterium, making it much easier for colistin to puncture it and kill the bacterium.

According to the team, murepavadin is an experimental antibiotic and cannot be used routinely in patients yet, but clinical trials will begin shortly. If these trials are successful, murepavadin and colistin may be combined to create a powerful treatment for a wide range of bacterial infections.

Akshay Subnis, also the lead author of research in the infectious disease sector, said: “As the global crisis of antibiotic resistance continues to accelerate, colistin is becoming increasingly important as a last resort to save the lives of infected patients. How this old antibiotic works By clarifying, we can come up with new ways to kill bacteria more effectively and increase our stockpile of weapons against the world’s super bugs. ”

Last resort The threat of “nightmare bacteria” resistant to the antibiotic colistin

Journal information:

Courtesy of Imperial College London

Quote: “Last Resort” antibiotics pop balloon-like bacteria (2021, May 4th). Obtained from https: // on May 4, 2021.

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“Last resort” antibiotics pop out bacteria like balloons

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