Saturday, September 15, 2018

Genetic Engineering to Thwart Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

              Many people are understandably worried about the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria. These have caused much suffering, and are in the news from time to time. You may have heard of the new resistant “super gonorrhea”.

 Luckily a group of compounds called arylomycins has been modified in such a way that it now offers hope. These compounds were already able to penetrate the outer membrane of gram negative bacteria, but until now they had trouble binding due to not being able to reach the enzyme they needed, which is embedded in the bacteria’s inner wall.  A newly modified type, called G0775, can successfully bind to and fight gram negative bacteria.  Even more exciting, it has shown success against antibiotic resistant strains, including a strain of K. pneumoniae which had proven resistant to 13 classes of antibiotics. It is important to note however that these experiments are still at the mouse phase of testing and it’s not uncommon for compounds that show promise at this stage to show toxicity later.

                In discussing this research, Paul Hergenrother, a chemical biologist from the University of Illinois, pointed out that a barrier to getting antibiotics approved is that they must show a very low level of toxicity, unlike other types of medication, such as those for treating cancer. While this has made perfect sense for general use antibiotics, I can’t help but wonder if there might be value in allowing the use of an antibiotic specifically for resistant strains, despite having higher levels of toxicity, just until a safer option can be found. It could have a place in saving lives of those who can’t be saved otherwise. 


  1. I think this was a great article to do because this is a rapidly growing problem. As we see more illnesses and different strains of bacteria, our antibiotics prove to be less and less effective. It is extremely interesting that a new modified compound has been discovered and is in the testing stage that could possibly be the answer for successful antibiotic resistant strains. Although I agree with your point that increasing toxicity may allow for protection against resistant strains, I have to wonder if that could harm human health if they took it as much as people took regular antibiotics.

  2. I find this very interesting because of the relevance of this topic. We learn in biology that our medicines have advanced so far that now due to evolution of many bacteria, many strains are antibiotic resistant. I think this is very promising research, but overall I think that this will be a never ending cycle. No matter what kind of treatments we make to kill antibiotic resistant bacteria, there could still be some bacteria that are resistant to that, and those will survive and reproduce, and make even more resistant bacteria. I think over time the bacteria will become even harder and harder to treat, and I worry that treatments will have to become more harmful to us. I also worry about the effects of drug compounding, or having to take so many different kinds of drugs just to ensure all the bacteria is killed.