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October 11, 2018 Thursday 10:40:07 AM IST
Kahne Lab prepares to combat superbugs

Superbugs that are resistant to all types of antibiotic medicines has caused apocalyptic scenario in the world of medicine in recent years. If bacteria gain resistance against all types of antibiotics, then it could mean the end of allopathic medicine, people thought. However, the Khane Lab at Harvard University has come out with a method of beating superbugs at their own weaknesses.The results of the study are published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society

The antibiotic-resistant bacteria, so-called Gram-negative bacteria, have a thick outer defense that protects them from toxins, antibiotics, etc.

Researchers at the Kahne Lab have meticulously documented how superbugs work. They identified a number of previously unknown molecular machines and processes that build the bacteria's stubborn barrier, called the outer membrane. Gram-negative bacteria build their outer membrane with a burly glycolipid called lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Hence, if we could prevent LPS from reaching the outer membrane, their defense could weaken.

The researchers used a novel fluorescence-based tool to study the transport ofLPS. If transport stops, ATP hydrolysis stops, they found. In addition, even if the cell has LPS in reserve and energy to spare, it will still stop transport.

"Using mutants of the transport machinery, we find that the final amount of LPS delivered into the membrane depends on the affinity of the outer membrane translocon for LPS."

It is expected that the Kahne Lab's investigative work could one day lead to new treatments to combat antibiotic resistance and save lives, globally.

DOI: 10.1021/jacs.8b07656

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