A team of molecular scientists has uncovered a way to disable the defensive structure of the multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacteria, paving the way for new antibiotics that target this barrier.
Gram-negative bacteria are often found in the gut, but can become resistant to antibiotics and can cause infections of the blood, surgical sites, as well as pneumonia and meningitis. Misuse of antibiotics has led to a worrying trend of drug-resistant bacteria in circulation, leading to the emergence of "superbugs", and it has been singled out as one of the greatest single problems threatening the future of our health.
"These drug resistance numbers increase every year, making antibiotics useless, which results in hundreds and thousands of patient's deaths," Changjiang Dong, from the University of East Anglia Norwich Medical School, told Wired.co.uk. "So we are trying to find a way to solve this drug resistance problem."
He and his team have now found a way around this particular bacterium's defences, according to a paper published in Nature: lipopolysaccharide (LPS). This is a molecule made up of a tough outer membrane that the UAE team wanted to crack. Until now, how the molecule's transport proteins are utilised to create that membrane has been unknown.