Microbes in the News 3rd Post

Bacteria That Eat Drugs Could Help Solve the Antibiotic Resistance Crisis

Researchers design bacteria to gobble up antibiotics in the environment, before microbes have a chance to turn deadly.

By  Jonathon Keats|Thursday, November 08, 2018

Link: https://discovermagazine.com/2018/dec/the-antibiotic-eaters

Summary: Antibiotic resistance has been around for a long time; it has even existed in nature long before humans contributed more antibiotic resistant bacteria. In the year 2007, a postdoctoral researcher in the Harvard University lab of George Church named Gautam Dantas researched the bacteria that are capable of consuming and using antibiotics as a nutrition source. It was found that bacteria evolved to resist beta-lactam which is supposed to weaken their cell walls but by producing an enzyme that breaks the ringlike part if the molecular structure when it is exposed to penicillin. There is still a lot more for scientists to learn about why bacteria engage in the behavior of eating substance that are meant to kill them.

Connections: When it comes to penicillin, we learned that it also targets the peptidoglycan in bacteria cell walls, it binds to microbial tanspeptidase enzyme so it can’t cross-link peptidoglycan. We also learned in class when taking about penicillin that it will not kill Archaea because they don’t have peptidoglycan. There is also a huge problem with over prescribing antibiotics in humans and livestock that is contributing to the more antibiotic resistant bacteria that are out there.

Critical analysis: What I found interesting is that some bacteria have evolved in a way that certain antibiotics that are made to kill them, becomes a nutrition source for them. It is amazing how this can come about but it is also quite concerning because it might be even harder to find other alternative medicine in the future. However, with the increasing amount of inavation in technology, like whole genome sequencing can help with this huge problem that is still on going.

Question: What kind of other ways in the future that could help with the problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria?


1 Comment for “Microbes in the News 3rd Post”



I think the idea here is that they take this beta lactam consuming bacteria and use the enzymes it produces to break down antibiotics present in undesired places that could cause new antibiotic resistance to emerge. A proposal I heard to deal with antibiotic resistant bacteria is to use CRISPR Cas9 technology to create a sort of new age antibiotic that recognizes certain base sequences of target cells and encodes a self lysis sequence into the target genome. Bypassing the antibiotic resistance modes of action that currently exist.

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