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Antibiotic resistance: a lock is released for Gram+ bacteria

How can new therapeutic strategies for antibiotic-resistant bacteria be found? A team from the IBS is developing a means for investigation through the in vitro fabrication of the Pneumococcus wall. This is a method with which to develop and test new antibiotics.

Published on 23 December 2013

Bacteria evolve and develop tricks to evade antibiotics. Scientists use several strategies to understand these bacterial escape mechanisms in detail and combat them. One such strategy is the in vitro synthesis of the bacterial element targeted by drugs, peptidoglycan: this is the main component of the bacterial cell wall and a target of penicillin class antibiotics.

“This is the first time we succeed at synthesizing the wall of Gram+ bacteria, which includes Pneumococcus and Staphylococcus, two major human pathogens”, explains André Zapun and Thierry Vernet. “After lengthy studies, comparable to a real police investigation, we found the adequate in vitro reaction conditions for producing peptidoglycan. This is only the beginning”, continue the biologists. “But we have passed a step that was until now very limiting. The peptidoglycan ‘recipe’ will be used to dissect the mechanisms of peptidoglycan synthesis, a prerequisite for the development of new drugs that are effective against bacteria resistant to current antibiotics. This opens the door to years of promising research!”

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