- Scientists are developing a new method for fighting bacterial infections without the need for antibiotics.
- Through this method, they are able to influence the communication between bacteria cells and to reduce their harmful effect.
Antibiotic Resistance and Bacterial communication
Once someone is infected with a strain of bacteria, they usually take antibiotics to help them fight off the infection. However, sometimes the microorganisms we are fighting develop resistance to the medication and it no longer has an effect.
Antibiotics attack the harmful bacteria and they reduce their effect or kill them off completely. But, some of them develop resistance that they can pass to the next generation. So, in essence, if one bacterium learns to resist the medication all the other ones will too.
Not only that, but bacteria are also known to communicate and help each other. So, if a colony finds itself under threat, it can form a protective layer of mucus that surrounds the entire colony. The outer cells are the ones that have immunity and they build the protective layer. With this, they allow the cells on the inside to grow more than they would without it. Once this happens the pathogens can cause all sorts of problems, depending on the type that infected the organism.
Researchers from KU Leuven build on the previous work done by their colleagues from the institute. Instead of attacking the salmonella bacteria they inhibit their ability to communicate and form the slimy protective layer. For this purpose, they use a special antimicrobial chemical that prevents the formation of the biomass.
Also, they found that the bacteria do not develop resistance to antimicrobial chemicals as they do to antibiotics. That is, the bacteria do not form any resistance after extensive use. Furthermore, once the antimicrobials take effect the microorganisms lose their ability to form the protective layer. After this happens the body’s immune system removes the bacteria from the body through regular metabolic processes.
- Researchers want to develop the antimicrobial treatment further so they can determine how it will act on other species of bacteria.