Scientists Notch a Win in War Against Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria
Date: Feb 4, 2013
Sophisticated modeling and biotechnology used to weaken cells by fouling their metabolic machinery
Boston, MA -- A team of scientists just won a battle in the war against antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" -- and only time will tell if their feat is akin to the bacterial "Battle of Gettysburg" that turns the tide toward victory.
They won this particular battle, or at least gained some critical intelligence, not by designing a new antibiotic, but by interfering with the metabolism of the bacterial "bugs" -- E. coli in this case -- and rendering them weaker in the face of existing antibiotics, as reported today in Nature Biotechnology.
It's the "kick 'em when they're down" style of fighting, and the team from Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and Boston University used sophisticated computer modeling and biotechnology as their weapons of choice.
"We are in critical need for novel strategies to boost our antibiotic arsenal," said senior author and Wyss Core Faculty member Jim Collins, Ph.D., a pioneer of synthetic biology who is also the William F. Warren Distinguished Professor at Boston University, where he leads the Center for BioDynamics. "With precious few new antibiotics in the pipeline, we are finding new ways to harness and exploit certain aspects of bacterial physiology."