SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2016

Researchers discover weakness in antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Researchers funded by Wellcome Trust announced on Wednesday the discovery of a way of bringing down the defensive walls of drug-resistant bacterial cells.

The findings follow a recent warning from the World Health Organization of the global spread of antibiotic-resistance in bacteria.

"The number of super-bugs are increasing at an unexpected rate," Changjiang Dong, from UEA's Norwich Medical School, said. "This research provides the platform for urgently-needed new generation drugs."

The spread has brought rise to common infections that were previously treatable.

The research looked at Gram-negative bacteria, which has an impermeable lipid-based outer membrane that makes it resistant to antibiotics and the human immune system. Removing the barrier makes the bacteria more vulnerable.

The new findings reveal how the barrier's building blocks, known as lipopolysaccharides, are transported to the outer surface of the bacteria cell.

"We have identified the path and gate used by the bacteria to transport the barrier building blocks to the outer surface," Dong said. "Importantly, we have demonstrated that the bacteria would die if the gate is locked."

Collaborators on the research included the University of St Andrews, The University of Oxford's Dr. Phillip Stansfield, Diamond Light Source's Dr. Neil Paterson and Sun Yat-sen University's Professor Wenjan Wang.