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Medicine: A new avenue of attack against drug resistance pathogens

Contributed by paustian on Oct 03, 2016 - 08:45 PM

Some pathogens are becoming resistant to many of the treatments we have for them. It is serious enough that the World Health Organization has declared antimicrobial resistance worthy of attention rivaling that of climate change. Strains of Staphylococcus aureus and Neisseria Gonorrhoeae are feared to be close to escaping treatment with antimicrobials. Researchers around the world are racing to discover new treatments for these multi-drug resistant pathogens. Shu Lam, a 25-year-old PhD student at the University of Melbourne in Australia, is pursuing a novel approach. Her research, reported in the journal Nature Microbiology describes the creation of peptide nanoparticles that can kill bacteria, and yet have extremely low toxicity. In addition it appears to be extremely difficult for the bacterium to develop resistance because the particles are toxic to bacteria by a number of unrelated modes of action.

The research is in its very early stages. Many questions need to be answers before it is clear whether this will be an effective treatment.

  1. What are the long term effects of using these compounds in the human body? How low is the toxicity to humans?
  2. What happens to the non-pathogens, the microbiome, when these treatments are administered?
  3. Do these compounds degrade in the environment? What are their half-lives?
  4. What is the range of toxicity for other microbes (or macrobes)?

These and many more will probably have to be answered before we can gauge their effectiveness. A very promising start, in any case.