UBC scientists find new molecule that can tackle antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Published: May 22, 2014

In this undated photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is one form of CRE bacteria, sometimes called “nightmare bacteria.” CRE bacteria is blamed for 600 deaths each year, and can withstand treatment from virtually every type of antibiotic. AP Photo/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

IANS

Toronto  — Joining the global fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, B.C. scientists have identified a small molecule that prevents bacteria from forming into biofilms, a frequent cause of infections.

The anti-biofilm peptide works on a range of bacteria including many that cannot be treated by antibiotics.

“Currently there is a severe problem with antibiotic-resistant organisms. Our entire arsenal of antibiotics is gradually losing effectiveness,” said Bob Hancock, a professor from University of British Columbia.

Hancock and his colleagues found that the peptide known as 1018 – consisting of just 12 amino acids, the building blocks of protein – destroyed biofilms and prevented them from forming.

Bacteria are generally separated into two classes, Gram-positives and Gram-negatives.

The peptide 1018 worked on both classes of bacteria as well as several major antibiotic-resistant pathogens, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa, E coli and MRSA.

“Antibiotics are the most successful medicine on the planet. The lack of effective antibiotics would lead to profound difficulties with major surgeries, some chemotherapy treatments, transplants and even minor injuries,” Hancock explained.

Our strategy represents a significant advance in the search for new agents that specifically target bacterial biofilms, he added.

Many bacteria that grow on the skin, lungs, heart and other human tissue surfaces form biofilms, which are highly structured communities of bacteria that are responsible for two-thirds of all human infections.

Currently, there is no approved treatments for biofilm infections and bacteria in biofilms are considerably more resistant to standard antibiotics, said the study published in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

IANS 2014-05-23 11:00:04

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