Combating Antibiotic Resistance

Written on | ,

Discovery may contribute to new treatments for infectious diseases.

A new TAU study revealed a mechanism through which “good” viruses can attack the systems of “bad” bacteria, destroy them and block their reproduction.

“Good” Viruses Kill “Bad” Bacteria

The researchers demonstrated that the “good” virus (bacteriophage) is able to block the replication mechanism of the bacteria’s DNA without damaging its own, noting that the ability to distinguish between oneself and others is crucial in nature. The discovery reveals one more fascinating aspect of the mutual relations between bacteria and bacteriophages and may lead to a better understanding of bacterial mechanisms for evading bacteriophages, as well as ways for using bacteriophages to combat bacteria.

The study, published recently in PNAS – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was led by Prof. Udi Qimron, Dr. Dor Salomon, Dr. Tridib Mahata and Shahar Molshanski-Mor of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine. Other participants included Prof. Tal Pupko, Head of The Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research and also of TAU’s new AI and Data Science Center; Dr. Oren Avram of The George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences; and Dr. Ido Yosef, Dr. Moran Goren, Dr. Miriam Kohen-Manor and Dr. Biswanath Jana of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine.

A Great Scientific Challenge

Prof. Qimron explains that the antibiotic resistance of bacteria is one of the greatest challenges faced by scientists today. One potential solution may lie in further investigation of the targeted eradication of bacteria by “good” bacteriophages; namely, understanding bacteriophage mechanisms for taking over bacteria as a basis for the development of new tools to combat bacterial pathogens.

With this solution in mind, the current study unveiled the mechanism by which the bacteriophage takes control of the bacteria. The researchers found that a bacteriophage protein uses a DNA-repair protein in the bacteria to “cunningly” cut the bacteria’s DNA as it is being repaired. Since the bacteriophage’s own DNA has no need for this specific repair protein, it is protected from this nicking procedure. In this way the “good” bacteriophage does three important things: it distinguishes between its own DNA and that of the bacteria, destroys the bacteria’s genetic material, and blocks the bacteria’s propagation and cell division.

The process by which the bacteriophage destroys the bacteria’s genetic material

Prof. Qimron explains that, “The ability to distinguish between oneself and others is of enormous importance in nature and in various biological applications. All antibiotic mechanisms identify and neutralize bacteria only, with minimal effect on human cells.”

The researchers discovered the process by searching for types of bacterial variants not impacted by this bacteriophage mechanism – those that have developed “immunity” to it. This inquiry led them to the specific bacterial mechanisms affected by the bacteriophage takeover. “Shedding more light on the ways in which bacteriophages attack bacteria, our findings may serve as a tool in the endless battle against antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” concludes Prof. Qimron.

Featured image: Illustrative: Bacteriophage or phage virus attacking and infecting a bacterium

Related posts

As Pandemic Persists, TAU Forges Ahead with COVID-19 Research on All Fronts

December 30, 2021

Rising Temperatures Fuel Increase in Violence: TAU Study

December 26, 2021

Medicinal Cannabis Oil Effective for Treating Autism

December 22, 2021

Parent Smartphone Use Could Harm Child Development

December 19, 2021

Breakthrough TAU Discovery Key to Reversing ALS

December 16, 2021

Experimental Drug Displays Effectiveness in Treating Symptoms of Autism and Alzheimer’s Disease

December 15, 2021

Seaweed – A Promising Defense Against Covid-19

December 15, 2021

New Ethical Code for World Research of Ancient DNA

December 14, 2021

Saving Lives with Artificial Intelligence

December 9, 2021

TAU Experts on Omicron: “Don’t Panic”

December 7, 2021

Tired of The Lies?

November 23, 2021

Britain and Israel Team Up on Challenge of Healthy Ageing

November 10, 2021

TAU Researchers Identify COVID Proteins that Cause Strokes and Heart Attacks

November 8, 2021

Can’t Multitask Anymore?

October 6, 2021

Why Do We Squabble Over The AC?

October 5, 2021

The Immune System’s Double Agents

October 5, 2021

Help A Friend Out?

September 30, 2021

Using ‘Good’ Bacteria to Fight ‘Bad’ Bacteria

September 29, 2021

Recruiting ‘Fighting Cells’ to Destroy Tumors

September 14, 2021

TAU Team Reverses Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

September 10, 2021

Nicotine Testing of Children Curbs Parents’ Smoking

September 5, 2021

Want to Fall in Love? Step Outside in The Sun

August 31, 2021

The Silent Prophets

August 31, 2021

First 3D-bioprinting of entire active tumor

August 18, 2021

New Warning Sign for Breast Cancer

August 6, 2021

COVID-19 Immunity Varies Among Genders and Age Groups

July 26, 2021

Tel Aviv Bats Have More Fun

July 22, 2021

New study found differences between women and men in the level of COVID-19 antibodies

July 15, 2021

A world first: Technology that restores the sense of touch in nerves damaged as a result of amputation or injury

July 15, 2021

TAU Medical Student to Swim for Israel at Summer Olympics

July 15, 2021

New nanotech from TAU produces “healthy” electric current from the human body itself

July 9, 2021

Introducing the world’s thinnest technology – only two atoms thick

July 2, 2021

Want to Live a Long Life? Consider Investing in Your Marriage.

July 2, 2021

A world first: Targeted delivery of therapeutic RNAs only to cancer cells, with no harm caused to healthy cells

June 30, 2021

Diamonds in the Rough

June 3, 2021

How Will We Brave the Post-COVID Era?

May 31, 2021

Are We Getting to the Root of Cancer?

May 3, 2021

Optical Technology Generates Immediate Melanoma Diagnosis

April 27, 2021

Gut Healing

April 25, 2021

Could Your Smartphone Be Damaging Your Teeth?

April 4, 2021

The Quest for A Lifesaving Cure

March 16, 2021

A Healthier Alternative to Antibiotics

February 24, 2021

Children with Autism during Lockdown: Serious Implications for Behavior and Development

February 22, 2021

Cancer Breakthrough: Cells’ Uniqueness is Also Weakness

January 29, 2021

Two TAU Professors Win 2020 Nature Mentoring Award

December 28, 2020

COVID-19 Takes TAU’s Legal Clinics into High Gear

December 7, 2020

Lack of Teacher Support during Pandemic Causes Acute Emotional Harm

December 4, 2020

New Discovery: Development of the Inner Ear in Embryos is Similar to Crystal Formation

November 26, 2020

In First, Aging Stopped in Humans: TAU Co-Study

November 23, 2020

TAU developed genome editing system destroys cancer cells

November 20, 2020

Pursuing the Unknown

Copyright ©  Tel Aviv University Trust. All rights reserved.
Registered charity number 314179.