What Dart Vader Has To Do With Bacteria?

The fear of superbugs, bacteria that are resistant to all known antibiotics, is a well justified fear of both the scientific community and general population.  Super bugs  are bacteria that are resistant to all existing antibiotics. Bacteria have the ability to adapt to antibiotics and develop resistance to them. So far, scientists were coping with this by constantly developing new antibiotics. But, there is a fear that they are loosing the race with bacteria’s adaptability. Scientists from the Universite de Montreal have discovered a new way to fight bacteria without triggering their adaptability, by taking away their ‘weapons’. Dr. Christian Baron, the leader of the research team, describes this process as “taking away Dart Vader’s lightsaber and body armor”.

How does this work?

Montreal team of researchers has discovered small molecules that affect proteins in a type IV biological secretion system, which is necessary for many bacteria to be virulent and cause diseases. Learning how this mechanism works and what makes bacteria virulent allows scientists to target the virulence factor – their weapons – and render bacteria as harmless as those living in our stomachs, without triggering their adaptability mechanism.

Currently, our battle against bacteria depends on antibiotics killing bacteria by targeting their essential cell functions. This process causes the most adaptable bacteria to quickly develop resistance to antibiotics. They also have the ability to transfer this adaptability to other bacteria and to their offspring.

New weapon against super bugs

The discovery by the researchers from Montreal may lead to the development of anti-virulent drugs that would be more effective against bacteria than antibiotics, especially against bacteria that are already known to be resistant to all known antibiotics. The next step is to test the anti-virulence concept in the clinic before it can be used as a new powerful weapon against  super bugs.

The results of the research by Dr. Baron and his colleagues were published in the August 2012 issue of the journal Chemistry and Biology.


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