A new two-pronged approach to treating antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections developed at Tel Aviv University has been shown in lab tests to kill off strains unaffected by antibiotics while making others more susceptible to the drugs.
Using bacterial viruses called phages, researchers delivered edited DNA to the resistant strains, which kills them off, and eliminates the transfer of resistant genes between strains, resensitizing bacteria to antibiotics.
"Antibiotic-resistant pathogens constitute an increasing threat because antibiotics are designed to select resistant pathogens over sensitive ones," said Professor Udi Qimron of the Department of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology at TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine in a press release. "The injected DNA does two things: It eliminates the genes that cause resistance to antibiotics, and it confers protection against lethal phages."
"We managed to devise a way to restore antibiotic sensitivity to drug-resistant bacteria, and also prevent the transfer of genes that create that resistance among bacteria."
Antibiotic-resistant pathogens present in hospitals could be exposed to the phages with a similar effect to an infection in a body, Qimron said.
Researchers believe the system, if applied properly to hospital surfaces or medical personnel's hands, could stem the tide of untreatable infections in medical facilities.
"We believe that this strategy, in addition to disinfection, could significantly render infections once again treatable by antibiotics," he said.