U.S. scientists discover new way to boost capability of antibiotics

Updated 2017-12-11 10:02:15 Xinhua

U.S. scientists have discovered a way to enhance the capability of a class of antibiotics in killing drug-tolerant bacteria, a new study shows.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who are working on a joint project funded by Harvard University, are exploring a new strategy to make bacteria more vulnerable to antibiotics such as quinolones, which are often used to treat infections like Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus.

Quinolones work by interfering with bacterial enzymes called topoisomerases, which help with DNA replication and repair.

The researchers tried to add a type of molecule called a terminal electron acceptor, which helps celllular respiration in a way that bacteria extract energy from sugar.

They conducted tests in high-density bacterial colonies grown in a lab dish, and found that delivering quinolones along with glucose and fumarate could kill several types of bacteria, including those that cause tuberculosis.

Either a carbon source like glucose or oxygen, if working separately, is not enough to enable the quinolone to kill, the researchers found.

Therefore, if the two are combined, the quinolone becomes powerful enough to eradicate the tolerant infection.

The study was published in a recent edition of journal Molecular Cell.

The researchers hoped to explore effective ways to best deliver the drug combination for different types of infections during antibiotic treatment, so as to better eradicate bacterial pathogens.

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