Drug-resistant bacteria possess natural ability to become vulnerable to antibiotics
● Superbug: A. baumannii
Infections with one of the most troublesome and least understood antibiotic-resistant superbugs, Acinetobacter baumaannii
, are increasing at alarming rates, particularly in health-care settings. But new research, published July 13 in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Online Early Edition, suggests that infections with drug-resistant bacteria may be amenable to antibiotics after all, without the need to develop new antibiotics, as reported by a team at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Bacteria are natural competitors and have the capacity to kill off other bacteria. In order to become bacterial assassins, the researchers found that multidrug-resistant A. baumannii
, a frequent cause of difficult-to-treat infections in hospitals, has to relinquish its ability to defy antibiotics.
The researchers expected the bacteria to readily kill other bacteria by producing and injecting a poison into their bacterial competitors. Killing the competitors should help A. baumannii infections spread widely and quickly. But instead, they found that part of the bacterial population regularly deactivated the plasmids, which turned on the poison injection system and transformed the bacteria into killers. But doing so meant the bacteria also turned off the antibiotic-resistance genes, making the bacteria vulnerable to antibiotics.
Additional studies of A. baumannii
samples from other outbreaks worldwide found the same trade-off: the bacteria’s ability to kill competitors could be activated but doing so left them at the mercy of antibiotics.
As explained by the researchers, this appears to be a common strategy for these bacteria in different parts of the world, and such knowledge could lead to more effective treatments and better strategies for preventing the development of superbugs.
● Via +Machines Like Us
Pandrug resistant Acinetobacter baumannii
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