Navigation Links
Learning to fight an adversary that won't stay down

New biomolecular technologies have largely failed to deliver the hoped-for knockout punch breakthrough against the defences of disease-causing bacteria, says a leading Canadian specialist in antibiotic resistance.

Techniques such as genomic sequencing and high throughput screening were expected to make the development of new antibiotic compounds easier and more productive. But in most cases the microbes continue to hold the upper hand ?and if three billion years of bacterial history is any kind of track record, we're in for an endless running battle, says Dr. Julian Davies, a microbiologist at the University of British Columbia.

"We haven't evolved in our thinking sufficiently to be able to match the microbes," says Dr. Davies, Scientific Director of the Canadian Bacterial Diseases Network. "Pharmaceutical companies and other researchers have put hundreds of millions of dollars into 'modern' approaches to antibiotic discovery over the past six or seven years and this has failed miserably."

The scientist, whose work is supported by Science and Engineering Research Canada (NSERC), has organized a symposium on the evolutionary genetics of antibiotic resistance at the 2005 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington D.C.

The ongoing appearance of new pathogen varieties like multi-resistant E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the bacterium that causes methicillin-resistant tuberculosis, provide good examples of the challenges we face, says Dr. Davies.

Ironically, he says, advances in molecular biology techniques have shown just how adept these pathogens are at adapting to anything we can throw at them. Innovations such as highly efficient polymerase chain reaction (PCR) have made it possible to identify and study the many genes responsible for antibiotic resistance in hospitals and the environment.

"What has been found is that there are more antibiotic resistance genes around than w e ever realized," says Dr. Davies. "There are more than 300 genes now known that confer resistance to one or more antimicrobials. And they keep coming."

However, the mapping of bacterial genomes has not yet helped yield solutions to the problem, says Dr. Davies.

He adds that our understanding of the activity of microbes must extend beyond the newspaper headlines reporting outbreaks of these "superbugs," so that we can put the role of these organisms in the proper evolutionary perspective. This subject, and antibiotic resistance in particular, has fascinated Davies since he began postdoctoral work on antibiotics and resistance mechanisms at Harvard Medical School in the early 1960s.

"The microbes are evolving genetically, and the pharmaceutical companies are evolving chemically; the two don't match," says Dr. Davies, adding that doctors who deal with microbial diseases in hospitals must remain cautious about exposing the bacterial pathogens to the newest and most effective drugs so as to avoid overuse and the accompanying onset of resistance.

"There are a relatively small number of antibiotics that have come out that are new, and some of them are very potent and act against most resistant strains," he says. "But the clinicians rightly try to keep these things in reserve for when they are really needed."


Source:Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

Related biology news :

1. Bird Brains Show How Trial and Error May Contribute to Learning
2. Learning how SARS spikes its quarry
3. Learning to love bacteria: Stanford scientist highlights bugs benefits
4. Learning and memory stimulated by gut hormone
5. Learning the language of DNA
6. Learning during sleep?
7. Antibiotic might fight HIV-induced neurological problems
8. NYU study reveals how brains immune system fights viral encephalitis
9. Molecular models advance the fight against malaria
10. Molecule that usually protects infection-fighting cells may cause plaque deposits inside arteries
11. Researchers find promising cancer-fighting power of synthetic cell-signaling molecule
Post Your Comments:

(Date:11/9/2015)... ) ... "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics Market 2015-2019" ... ) has announced the addition of ... 2015-2019" report to their offering. ... ) has announced the addition of the ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... LA JOLLA, Calif. , Oct. 29, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ ... released a new report titled, "DNA Synthesis and Biosecurity: ... how well the Department of Health and Human Services ... was issued in 2010. --> ... advances, but it also has the potential to pose ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... NEW YORK , Oct. 29, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... wearable technology, announced a partnership with 2XU, a ... accessories, to deliver a smart hat with advanced ... runners and other athletes to monitor key biometrics ... of the strategic partnership, the two companies will bring ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... CITY , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - ... "Company") announced today that the remaining 11,000 post-share ... Share Purchase Warrants (the "Series B Warrants") subject ... were exercised on November 23, 2015, which will ... Shares.  After giving effect to the issuance of ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - ProMetic Life Sciences ... today that Mr. Pierre Laurin , President and Chief ... at the upcoming Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare ... on December 1-2, 2015. st , at ... one-on-one meetings throughout the day. The presentation will be available ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... Whitehouse Laboratories is pleased to announce that ... facility will be strictly dedicated to basic USP 61, USP 62 and USP 51 ... to have complete chemistry and micro testing performed by one supplier. Management ...
(Date:11/23/2015)... ... November 23, 2015 , ... Shimadzu Corporation announces ... Nexera UC Unified Chromatography system. The award from R&D magazine recognizes Shimadzu’s Nexera ... the year in the analytical and testing category. R&D Magazine chose the Nexera ...
Breaking Biology Technology: