Madrid, March 12 (EUROPE PRESS) .- Because bacteria continue to demonstrate a powerful resistance to treatment with antibiotics, a growing health crisis involving various infections, scientists continue to seek a better understanding of bacterial defenses against antibiotics in an effort to develop new treatments. Now, researchers at the University of California (UC) in San Diego, USA, who combine experiments and mathematical models, have discovered an unexpected mechanism that allows bacteria to survive antibiotics.
As described in the online online edition of this Thursday edition of Cell, Dong-leon Lee, Maja Bialečka-Fornal and Giro Sele, from the Department of Biological Sciences at the UC San Diego, together with Letizia Galera-Laporta, from the Pompeu Fabra University and his colleagues discovered that bacteria are defending against antibiotics by controlling the absorption of ions from alkali metals. When they are attacked by antibiotics, bacteria modulate the absorption of magnesium ions to stabilize their ribosomes, the basic molecular machines of life that transmit genes in proteins as a survival technique.
"We found an unexpected new mechanism that uses bacteria in active growth to be antibiotic-resistant," says Süel, a professor of molecular biology. "With this discovery, we can now explore new ways to fight infections that we could not think about before," he adds.
The connection key
Scientists investigated the relationship between ribosome activity and electrochemical flow of ions through cell membranes. This membrane potential and ribosomes are among the oldest and most basic processes that act in all living cells, from bacteria to humans.
The researchers identified a different relationship that "reveals how these ancient and fundamental cellular processes that are essential to life interact with one another," Süel describes. New discoveries provide the scientific basis for new ways to combat antibiotic resistance. "Resistance to antibiotics is a big public threat to our health," says Siel. The amount of drugs that reach the market is not about the capacity of bacteria to cope with these drugs. "
Süel believes that scientists can increase the potency of existing antibiotics by manipulating the ability of bacteria to absorb magnesium, rather than developing completely new drugs. The power of certain classes of antibiotics used to treat serious infections can be greatly improved by limiting the way the bacteria absorb magnesium, which interferes with the ability of bacteria to use saturated magnesium ions in anti-antibiotic defense.