Researchers at Jefferson University have been experimenting with ways to weaken the defenses of antibiotic resistant bacteria, by targeting a common feature of the resistant bacteria – a pair of membranes which are able to expel antibiotics by pumping them out of the cell.
The researchers found a way to interfere with transfer RNA that is unique to the bacteria, crippling it’s ability to produce the membrane proteins, using a method which appears to, so far, to not interfere with the human body’s production of cell membranes. The novel approach, if proven, could allow existing antibiotics with good safety profiles to continue to be used on aggressive, drug resistant bacteria, or perhaps lead to the development of other antibiotics which could previously not treat
AstraZeneca and GSK have recently discovered compounds that can inhibit methylation on tRNAs, but progress has stalled. The primary reason for the failure of that approach is that the methylation inhibitors are unable to permeate through the bacterial membrane walls. Double-walled bacteria have, so far, eluded most attempts to develop new effective antibiotics.
For more information on this approach, check out Jefferson University’s press release here.
Thanks to New Atlas for the tip.