To their amazement, bacteria engineered so they didn’t sense starvation werethousands of times more sensitive to killing than those that could.
"That experiment was a turning point," Singh said. "It toldus that the resistance of starved bacteria was an active response that could beblocked. It also indicated that starvation-induced protection only occurred ifbacteria were aware that nutrients were running low."
Further research showed that the starvation shutdown response protected themfrom the toxic form of oxygen, chemically hyperactive free radicals. Free radicals are also what antiobiotics generate when killing bacteria. Elegant.
|Bacterial clusters living in the lungs of a cystic |
fibrosis patient are highly resistant to
killing by antibiotics
The good news goes beyond understanding the problem. Existing antibiotics that may seem ineffectivetoday may get a power boost of up to a thousand fold on certain resistantbacteria.
Edited from Science Daily News reporting on work by lead author Dr. DaoNguyen (McGill), Dr. Singh and others.