Shalom Life | June 12, 2015

Tel Aviv University Research Makes Breakthrough in Combating Antibiotic Resistance

A TAU researcher has introducerd a promising new tool

By: NoCamels Team

Published: June 11th, 2015 in Health » Israel

At its annual assembly in Geneva last week, the World Health Organization approved a radical and far-reaching plan to slow the rapid, extensive spread of antibiotic resistance around the world. The plan hopes to curb the rise caused by an unchecked use of antibiotics and lack of new antibiotics on the market.

Now Tel Aviv University research published in PNAS introduces a promising new tool: a two-pronged system to combat this dangerous situation. The system wipes out antibiotic resistance in selected bacteria, and renders other bacteria more sensitive to antibiotics. The research, led by Prof. Udi Qimron is based on bacterial viruses called “phages”, which transfer “edited” DNA into resistant bacteria to kill off resistant strains and make others more sensitive to antibiotics.

According to the researchers, the system, if ultimately applied to pathogens on hospital surfaces or medical personnel’s hands, could turn the tide on untreatable, often lethal bacterial infections.

“Since there are only a few pathogens in hospitals that cause most of the antibiotic-resistance infections, we wish to specifically design appropriate sensitization treatments for each one of them,” Prof. Qimron says. “We will have to choose suitable combinations of DNA-delivering phages that would deliver the DNA into pathogens, and the suitable combination of ‘killing’ phages that could select the re-sensitized pathogens.”

bacteriaattacking

Reprogramming the system

“Antibiotic-resistant pathogens constitute an increasing threat because antibiotics are designed to select resistant pathogens over sensitive ones,” Prof. Qimron says. “The injected DNA does two things: It eliminates the genes that cause resistance to antibiotics, and it confers protection against lethal phages.

“We managed to devise a way to restore antibiotic sensitivity to drug-resistant bacteria, and also prevent the transfer of genes that create that resistance among bacteria,” he continues.

This article was first published on NoCamels - Israeli Innovation News and was re-posted with permission. To continue reading this article on the site, click here.

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