A probiotic drink could become a promising new treatment against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, after UK-based scientists engineered and patented a key genetic element that can tackle the genetic basis of resistance.
It works by targeting small DNA molecules (plasmids) inside bacterial cells which frequently carry genes that give resistance to antibiotics. The plasmids replicate independently, spreading between bacteria and carrying resistance genes with them.
A study, published in PLOS One, explored construction of an effective broad-host-range conjugative plasmid vector system to specifically displace target plasmids of different incompatibility groups, as an alternative strategy to combat antimicrobial resistance.
Lead researcher Professor Christopher Thomas, explained: “We were able to show that if you can stop the plasmid from replicating, then most of the bacteria lose the plasmid as the bacteria grow and divide. This means that infections that might otherwise be hard to control, even with the most powerful antibiotics available, are more likely to be treatable with standard antibiotics.”
A clinical trial is now planned for the drink, which will contain bacteria carrying a new type of plasmid (pCURE plasmids) that prevents the resistance plasmids from replicating and also blocks a so-called ‘addiction system’ which the plasmids use to kill any bacteria that lose them.