A Molecule That Can Destroy Biofilms And Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

The study at the University of British Columbia puts forward a molecule that prevents bacteria from forming into biofilms, which are responsible for causing a number of the microbial infections in the body. Many bacteria that grow on skin, heart, lung and other human tissue surfaces contribute in developing biofilms in the body.

The newly discovered molecule, designated anti-biofilm peptide 1018, can destroy biofilms (matured ones) and prevent them from developing by blocking an intracellular signal molecule known as guanosine pentaphosphate [(p)ppGpp]. According to researchers, the peptide works on a range of bacteria including many that cannot be treated by antibiotics.

There are two classes of bacteria: Gram-positives and Gram-negatives. Both classes possess different cell wall structures and the differences in the cell wall structures make them susceptible to different antibiotics. 1018 works on both classes of bacteria as well as several major antibiotic-resistant pathogens, including E. coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and MRSA.

“Antibiotics are the most successful medicine on the planet. The lack of effective antibiotics would lead to profound difficulties with major surgeries, some chemotherapy treatments, transplants, and even minor injuries,” says Bob Hancock, a professor in UBC’s Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology and lead author of the study.

Researchers believe targeting guanosine pentaphosphate [(p)ppGpp] represents a new approach against biofilm-related drug resistance.