An efficient and cost-effective liquid solution has been developed by researchers to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria and keep hospitals safe from infections.
The solution, developed by Udi Qimron of the Department of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology at Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine, is based on specially designed bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacteria, which can alter the genetic make-up of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
"We have genetically engineered the bacteriophages so that once they infect the bacteria, they transfer a dominant gene that confers renewed sensitivity to certain antibiotics," Qimron said.
Certain antibiotics are designed to target and bind to a part of the bacteria cell called a ribosome, which is the protein factory of the cell. But after continual and frequent exposure to antibiotics, the bacteria "learn" to change components in the ribosome itself so that the antibiotics are unable to bind.
Qimron and his colleagues set out to determine whether they could make resistant bacteria sensitive to antibiotics again by re-introducing a component of the ribosome, a gene called rpsL, which restores bacteria's sensitivity to antibiotics.
"Our novel approach relies on an effective delivery process and selection procedure, put on the same platform for the first time," he said.
With this system, the sensitive bacteria take over the ecological niche once occupied by the resistant bacteria. And if a patient does happen to become infected by lingering bacteria anyway, traditional antibiotics can again be used as an effective treatment.
Added to cleansers, Tellurite represents the second step in a two-part process. A Tellurite compound, which is toxic to bacteria, would also be spread on all surfaces to wipe out the bacteria that had not been rendered sensitive, and thus the entire population of the surface bacteria would be sensitized.
The combination is designed to first disarm, and then kill dangerous bacteria.
Next, the solution will be tested in pre-clinical animal trials to ensure its safety before being made available for wider use at hospitals.
According to Qimron, once the safety of the solution is guaranteed, the solution will come in a bottle and easily added to a bucket or spray.
The solution has been detailed in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.