resistant bacteria 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Tel Aviv University chemistry researchers claim to be the first to have
developed a technique that neutralizes the ability of bacteria to develop
resistance to antibiotics, according to a paper just published in the journal
Organic Biomolecular Chemistry by Dr. Micha Fridman and partners at the
University of Michigan.
The scientists took advantage of a protein that
gives bacteria resistance and used it to create new derivatives that the
pathogen cannot neutralize. The development will be presented at a seminar on
Thursday at TAU’s School of Chemistry for pupils from high schools around the
One of the biggest problems in fighting infectious diseases is
that as time goes by and antibiotics are widely used (and sometimes misused),
they lose their ability to kill bacteria that develop mechanisms to neutralize
Fridman, along with Dr. Silvie Garneau-Tsodikova and
colleagues in the US, wrote of their advance, which can lead to the development
of new antibiotics that can fight resistant bacteria, including those that are
common in hospital wards.
They focused on a antibiotic family called
aminoglycosides – including Tobramycin and Paromomycin – which are meant to kill
off bacteria that have developed resistance.
Fridman explained that “the
bacteria know how to identify antibiotics via enzymes. Using a chemical change
at a suitable site in the drug, they neutralize its activity. Our idea was to
bind a chemical group to the specific location in the drug and – using this
strategy – neutralize the bacteria with the enzyme. In our present and previous
studies, we have developed chemical and biochemical techniques to block the
location in the antiobiotic that the enzyme changes and thus creates
He added that this activity is advantageous because the site
is blocked, preventing the bacteria from neutralizing the new antibiotics, and
the material bound to the antibiotics makes it possible to destroy the bacteria
The researchers have managed to create a number of molecules
that will serve as an archetype for new antibiotics that they have developed and
to test the influences of a wide variety of bacteria, including resistant
pathogens. The aim of the work is to extend the period during which existing
antibiotics function by suiting them chemically and coping with resistant
mechanisms in virulent bacteria.
Fridman said he believed it was the
first time in which a bacterium’s mechanism against antibiotics has been used to
develop the new types of antibiotics.
“This is an additional and
important step in producing new strategies for preparing future generations of
antibiotics as weapons against resistant bacteria. This is important because
bacterial infections are still a leading cause of death in our time.”