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New hope to stop spread of antibiotic resistance


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A team led by University College London (UCL) and Birkbeck researchers has discovered a new path to help stop the spread of antibiotic resistance, in an action that could affect the lives of millions of people worldwide.

The groundbreaking research published in Nature showed for the first time the structure of the transport apparatus that allows the spread of antibiotic-resistant genes between bacteria.

Antibiotic resistance occurs naturally, but overuse and misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, threatening the ability to treat common infectious diseases.

By understanding the way bacteria exchange genes, scientists can discover ways to prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant genes or exploit the transport mechanism so that it delivers beneficial genes to higher organisms.

Professor Gabriel Waksman (UCL Structural & Molecular Biology and Birkbeck, University of London), the study’s lead author, said: “We are in a global crisis of antibiotic resistance, which threatens to overcome health systems around the world – the World Health Organization describes antibiotic resistance ‘as one of the greatest threats to global health, food security and development today’.”

“This research is critical to understanding how antibiotic resistance is spread among bacterial populations. Now that we can visualize the structure of the transport apparatus, my research will focus on how the transport apparatus works to transfer genes.”

Bacterial Viruses: Faithful Allies Against Antibiotic Resistance

More information:
Kévin Macé et al, Cryo-EM structure of a type IV secretion system, Nature (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-04859-y

Provided by University College London

Quote: New Hope to Stop the Spread of Antibiotic Resistance (June 2022, June 23) retrieved June 23, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-antibiotic-resistance.html

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