Kolejna proba poprawienia dzialania antybiotykow, tym razem przy pomocy fagow.
Fagi beda niszczyly biofilm w ktorym ukrywaja sie bakterie. Oczywicie na razie
to jeszcze bardzo wstepny etap i nie wiadomo na ile oczekiwania sie
zrealizuja, ale zawsze cos.
Bacteria beware: MIT student invents knock-out punch
for antibiotic resistance
Timothy Lu awarded $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student
Prize for inventiveness
MIT graduate student and synthetic biologist Timothy Lu is passionate about
tackling problems that pose threats to human health. His current mission: to
destroy antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Today, the 27-year-old M.D. candidate and Ph.D. in the Harvard-MIT Division of
Health Sciences and Technology received the prestigious $30,000 Lemelson-MIT
Student Prize for inventing processes that promise to combat bacterial
infections by enhancing the effectiveness of antibiotics at killing bacteria
and helping to eradicate biofilm - bacterial layers that resist antimicrobial
treatment and breed on surfaces, such as those of medical, industrial and food
Bacterial infections can lead to severe health issues. The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention estimates that the antibiotic-resistant bacterium MRSA,
or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, causes approximately 94,000
infections and contributes to 19,000 deaths annually in the United States,
through contact that can occur in a variety of locations, including schools,
hospitals and homes. Bacteria can also infect food, including spinach and
beef, and damage industrial equipment.
Lu explained that fewer pharmaceutical companies are inventing new antibiotics
due to long development times, high failure rates and large costs. According
to the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, the cost to develop a
new drug is $930 million (based on the value of the dollar in 2006). These
factors, coupled with a decline in the number of prescriptions authorized for
antibiotics, constrain profits. "Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are also
becoming more prevalent," Lu noted. "My inventions enable the rapid design and
production of inexpensive antibacterial agents that can break through the
defenses of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and bacterial biofilms."
Delivering a one-two punch
Working with his advisor, J.J. Collins, professor of biomedical engineering at
Boston University, Lu developed two bacteriophage platforms to overcome
antibiotic resistance. Bacteriophage are viruses that only infect bacteria,
not human cells. They have been used since the early 20th century to treat
bacterial infections; however, they fell out of favor in the United States due
to the advent of antibiotics. Lu's work represents an exciting application of
synthetic biology, which is an emerging field focused on the rational
engineering of organisms to achieve novel functions.
Lu has engineered bacteriophage to boost antibiotic effectiveness. The
bacteriophage carries DNA that codes for factors that target bacterial gene
networks, which former treatments failed to reach, and destroys bacterial
antibiotic resistance mechanisms. The weakened bacterial defenses enable
antibiotics to perform better. Administered together, Lu's bacteriophage and
antibiotics have the potential to eliminate nearly 30,000 times more bacteria
than antibiotics alone, including cells that survive antibiotic-only
treatment. This combination treatment also thwarts development of stronger
antibiotic resistance, which can extend the lifetime of existing and future
"While working at a hospital as part of a graduate course, I saw many patients
who contracted new infections due to already-compromised immune systems or
equipment that is extremely difficult to keep sterile," Lu recalled. "Being
infected by difficult-to-eradicate bacteria is a traumatic experience for
patients and a serious public health issue that needs attention. I thought
that there had to be a solution for these infections."