Navigation Links
Physics strategy tested as solution for antibiotic resistance

A Virginia Tech biologist proposes to use a physics strategy called resonant activation to nudge dormant bacteria cells into a stage where they will be sensitive to antibiotics.

In medicine, resonance means the sound the doctor hears when he or she thumps your chest. In physics, resonance is a periodic force or an oscillation whose frequency is close to that of a natural system's frequency. Sound waves are an example of a natural system that can be altered with resonant activation.

Jianhua Xing, an assistant professor of biological sciences at Virginia Tech who has studied more than a smattering of physics, was considering the problem of antibiotic resistance when he remembered a physics paper on resonant activation that he had read as a student.

One strategy bacterial colonies use to survive antibiotics is to create a few persister cells. Because these cells are dormant or grow very slowly, they can dodge an antibiotic attack that requires active cell wall growth to be effective. Persister cells convert to normally growing cells at a random and slow rate so that there are always a few that remain dormant until the antibiotics are gone. Extending antibiotic treatment can be a dangerous strategy because of severe side effects, such as liver damage.

Persister cells have multiple steady states, with fluctuations in the numbers of proteins as they transition to a normal cell. Xing viewed this fluctuation during synthesis and degradation of proteins as a potential target for resonant activation. Instead of a sound wave or electronic signal, the perturbing signal would be repetitive antibiotic treatment.

Xing's student, Yan Fu, a second year graduate student in the Interdisciplinary Program of Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology at Virginia Tech; and another student, Meng Zhu of the School of Computing at Clemson University, created a computer simulation to compare different strategies of periodic antibiotics cued to protein fluctuations in persister cells. Their finding that resonant activation fluctuating antibiotic treatments accelerates bacteria colony sterilization was published in the journal Physical Biology in March 2010 ("Resonant activation: a strategy against bacterial persistence," Fu, Zhu, and Xing.

Xing acknowledges that that the computer simulation simplified the problem by neglecting further complication due to mutation, but said he believes the concept has applications for cancer treatment. "On and off dosing with chemicals could be as effective as or more effective than long-term dosage. You need to stop and let the body recover, then resume," he said.

He is particularly interested in conducting experiments to see if resonant activation could increase the efficiency of inducing a normal (somatic) cell into an undifferentiated or stem cell.

"Bacteria mutate quickly, but there could be applications for cancer or stem cell conversion, where mutation is slower or not an issue," Xing said.


Contact: Susan Trulove
Virginia Tech

Related biology news :

1. CCNY symposium April 23 to explore future of physics
2. Physics press conferences at next weeks American Physical Society March Meeting
3. The 43rd Midyear Meeting of the Health Physics Society
4. Health Physics Society recommends considering action for indoor radon below current guidelines
5. Symposium marks 20th anniversary of Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group
6. UTSA Physics Department receives $2.7 million to study nanomaterials
7. Nanophysics: Serving up Buckyballs on a silver platter
8. Cheap and efficient white light LEDs new design described in AIPs Journal of Applied Physics
9. American Institute of Physics announces awards for best science writing
10. Physics, math provide clues to unraveling cancer
11. 42nd Mid-year Topical Meeting of the Health Physics Society
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/20/2016)... 2016 Securus Technologies, a leading provider ... public safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring announced that ... has secured the final acceptance by all three ... Access Systems (MAS) installed. Furthermore, Securus will have ... installed by October, 2016. MAS distinguishes between legitimate ...
(Date:6/7/2016)... TORONTO , June 7, 2016  Syngrafii ... begun a business relationship that includes integrating Syngrafii,s ... pilot branch project. This collaboration will result in ... for the credit union, while maintaining existing document ... ...
(Date:6/1/2016)... YORK , June 1, 2016 ... Technology in Election Administration and Criminal Identification to Boost ... to a recently released TechSci Research report, " Global ... By Region, Competition Forecast and Opportunities, 2011 - 2021", ... 24.8 billion by 2021, on account of growing security ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... GUELPH, ON , June 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - BIOREM ... it has been advised by its major shareholders, Clean ... LP, United States based venture ... common shares of Biorem (on a fully diluted, as ... for the disposition of their entire equity holdings in ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... , ... June 27, 2016 , ... Parallel 6 ... trials, announced today the Clinical Reach Virtual Patient Encounter CONSULT module which ... with the physician and clinical trial team. , Using the CONSULT module, patients and ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... PHILADELPHIA , June 27, 2016  Liquid ... today announced the funding of a Sponsored Research ... study circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from cancer patients.  ... changes in CTC levels correlate with clinical outcomes ... therapies. These data will then be employed to ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Epic Sciences unveiled a liquid biopsy ... PARP inhibitors by targeting homologous recombination deficiency (HRD) ... test has already been incorporated into numerous clinical ... Over 230 clinical trials are investigating ... PARP, ATM, ATR, DNA-PK and WEE-1. Drugs targeting ...
Breaking Biology Technology: