Scientists find how some bacteria avoid antibiotics
Scientists have for the first time identified a mechanism by which some bacteria are able to survive antibacterial treatment
In addition to the known phenomenon by which some bacteria achieve resistance to antibiotics through mutation, there are other types of bacteria, known as ‘persistent bacteria’.
These bacteria are not resistant to the antibiotics but simply continue to exist in a dormant or inactive state while exposed to antibacterial treatment. They later ‘awaken’ when that treatment is over.
Until now, it had been known that there is a connection between these kind of bacteria and the naturally occurring toxin HipA in the bacteria, but scientists did not know the cellular target of this toxin and how its activity triggers dormancy of the bacteria.
Now, researchers from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, led by Professor Gadi Glaser of the Faculty of Medicine and Professor Nathalie Balaban of the Racah Institute of Physics, have demonstrated how this comes about.
Their research showed that when antibiotics attack these bacteria, the HipA toxin disrupts the chemical ‘messaging’ process necessary for nutrients to build proteins.
This is interpreted by the bacteria as a ‘hunger signal’ and sends them into an inactive state, (dormancy) in which they are able to survive until the antibacterial treatment is over and they can resume their harmful activity.