Antibiotics resistance: Researchers succeed to block genes of resistance
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.
Baron hopes the strategy can be used to discover more inhibitors of the transfer of resistant genes.
“You want to be able to find the ‘soft spot’ on a protein, and target it and poke it so that the protein cannot function,” said Baron, the Faculty of Medicine’s vice-dean of research and development. “Other plasmids have similar proteins, some have different proteins, but I think the value of our study on TraE is that by knowing the molecular structure of these proteins we can devise methods to inhibit their function.”
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.