Antibiotics are commonly used around the world to cure diseases caused by Bacteria. But as the World Health Organization and other international bodies have pointed out, the global increase of antibiotic Resistance is a rapidly worsening problem. And since antibiotics are also an essential part of modern medicine, as prophylactic treatment during surgeries and cancer therapy, rising resistance of bacteria presents even more of a danger.
That's why researchers are busy devising strategies to address this threat to human health -- and Université de Montréal is at the forefront of the fight.
One of the ways antibiotic resistance genes spread in hospitals and in the environment is that the genes are coded on plasmids that transfer between bacteria. A plasmid is a DNA fragment found in bacteria or yeasts. It carries genes useful for bacteria, especially when these genes encode proteins that can make bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Now a team of scientists at UdeM's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine has come up with a novel approach to block the transfer of resistance genes.
The researchers screened a library of small chemical molecules for those that bind to the TraE protein, an essential component of the plasmid transfer machinery. Analysis by X-ray crystallography revealed the exact binding site of these molecules on TraE. Having precise information on the binding site enabled the researchers to design more potent binding molecules that, in the end, reduced the transfer of antibiotic-resistant, gene-carrying plasmids.
Bastien Casu, Tarun Arya, Benoit Bessette, Christian Baron. Fragment-based screening identifies novel targets for inhibitors of conjugative transfer of antimicrobial resistance by plasmid pKM101. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-14953-1
Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle