Saturday, November 15, 2014

New Treatment Against Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria.

University of Liverpool microbiologists are working on a new treatment against antibiotic resistant bacterial infections. The treatment is designed to be an alternative to current antibiotics. The growing menace of antibiotic resistance is, arguably, the single biggest threat faced by the world's population.

Some new research presents an encouraging new angle. The research is based on the use of specially engineered lipid (fat) bodies, called liposomes, These appear to prevent bacterial toxins from killing human cells.

Liposomes are artificially-prepared spherical vesicles, they are often used to deliver drugs into the human body (as well as delivering of dyes to textiles.) A study has shown that bacterial toxins, produced by major human pathogens like Methicillin Resistant Staphlycoccus aureus (MRSA) can be neutralised if they bind to liposomes instead of human cells. Therefore, introducing liposomes into infection sites could confuse bacteria into binding to these artificial constructs instead of human cells.

The study was conducted in mice and the next stage is to examine the effect in people. Thus liposomes could be used therapeutically, either alone or in conjunction with antibiotics to combat bacterial infections and to minimize toxin-induced tissue damage and inflammation.

This type of research is important given the low level of investment and research into new types of antibiotics. A recent study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, found that less than 1 per cent of research funding awarded by public and charitable bodies to UK researchers between 2008 to 2013 was awarded for research on antibiotics.

The findings have been published in the journal Nature Biotechnology. The paper is titled "Engineered liposomes sequester bacterial exotoxins and protect from severe invasive infections in mice."