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Superbugs fight Superbugs
2/7/2012
 
Researchers in Israel have developed a novel method of restoring antibiotic sensitivity to resistant bacteria, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Using a process called lysogenization, scientists used bacteriophages, viruses that can infect bacteria, to invade resistant bacterial cells and restore their sensitivity to antibiotics. Initial experiments involved E. coli bacteria and the antibiotics streptomycin and nalidixic acid, the newspaper reported.

“Genes from mutant or antibiotic-resistant E. coli bacteria were isolated in laboratory cultures and genetically engineered to reverse the resistance mechanism. Researchers then targeted the resistant genes using phages loaded with the engineered genes. This rendered resistant E. coli significantly more sensitive to the antibiotics than control phages carrying mock genes,” the Journal said.

It added that researchers expect genetically altered phages can be developed for any bacterium and used in hospital settings to reverse antibiotic resistance in bacteria that cause hospital-acquired infections. Once bacteria are lysogenized, they are less likely to infect humans and perpetuate the cycle of antibiotic-resistance.

The Wall Street Journal pointed out bacteriophages have yet to be tested on hospital superbugs such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).