A New Study Reveals How Bacteria Resist Antibiotics


With an increase in the antibiotic resistance, more and more scientists are trying to find mechanisms behind its prevalence. In a new study, a team of physicists from Canada decided to make a similar attempt to find how bacteria repel antibiotics once they gain resistance against them.

The mechanism they discovered is relatively simple. However, this is considered as the first time where the investigators have pinpointed it exactly, all thanks to the sensitive technology.

The findings of this study are present in the journal named Natural Communications Biology. The researcher is sure that this discovery can help many scientists design better techniques to combat infections.

Why Understand Micromechanisms?

For understanding how stubborn types of bacteria are able to keep them safe from antibiotics, the scientists studied the mechanisms through which of such drugs get into the bacterial membrane and perform its function.

In this study, the scientists used polymyxin B, a type of antibiotic used for the treatment of urinary tract infections, meningitis, and the infections of the blood.

The researchers gave the reason why they chose this specific drug. They said that this drug is the only antibiotic that works against the bacteria which are resistant to other drugs. However, many years ago, some Chinese specialists found that a single bacterial gene could also make the bacteria resistant to polymyxins.

The scientists wanted to find out the way using which the bacteria were able to stop this drug. By understanding this, the scientists could eventually lead to better manufacturing of enhanced versions of drugs.

The researchers made use of highly-sensitive tools making it possible to analyze the membrane of the bacteria. These tools produced high-resolution images that shoed every single molecule and its dimensions with one-millionth of the width as compared to a hair strand.

If you take a bacterial strain and put the drug in it, it will form holes in its wall just like a hole-puncher, ultimately killing it. However, there has been a lot of debate regarding how these holes are formed.

Resistant Bacteria: What Happens to them?

The mechanism through which an antibiotic gets through the bacterial membrane includes the following: The bacteria have a negative charge which automatically draws in the drug having a positive charge.

As this process is taking place, the bacterial membrane starts acting like a barrier against the antibiotic in order to protect the bacterium. In normal circumstances, this protective mechanism fails as it is thin enough to get holes in it by the antibiotic.

However, in a drug-resistant bacterium, the technology revealed that the membrane gets more rigid making it difficult for the antibiotic to penetrate it. The negative charge on the bacteria also gets weaker making it difficult to pull in the medicine. It is like the drug is trying to cut through solid rock.

This is the first time for a research team to be able to describe a proper mechanism associated with drug resistance. While there are a lot of speculations about it, it is new information that unlocks different aspects of new research.


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Samantha Issac
Samantha is a graduate of Medicine with masters in Public Health. Most of her writings are in medicinal tools, technology, and treatments. In addition to that, she is a freelance healthcare writer based in the USA.


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