Clever Drugs for Slimy Bugs

A new way to fight staph infections

Staphylococcus aureus bacteria attach to catheters, artificial joints, implants, and patients' burns and wounds, establishing bacterial biofilms, a leading cause of failing antibiotic therapies and chronic infections. But Queensland University of Technology researchers have developed hybrid antibiotics designed to penetrate the slimy shield protecting invasive staph infections.

"Biofilms are a sticky, slimy coating that often prevents conventional antibiotics from accessing bacterial cells," says PhD student Anthony Verderosa, who co-led the study with associate professor Makrina Totsika. "We have developed a new breed of antibiotic that tricks biofilms into releasing their protected cells, allowing access through the protective coating.”

The microscopic compound emits a fluorescence signal, allowing researchers to watch the drug penetrating the biofilm, either killing the bacteria directly or leaving them susceptible to killing.

"What is promising is the fact that our compounds are hybrids of drugs that are already in clinical use as stand-alone therapies, such as conventional antibiotics and nitroxides,” Dr. Totsika says, “so this offers hope that they could be translated into clinical therapies in the not-so-distant future."

Source: ScienceDaily, December 2, 2019.