Hint of a disease prevention treatment

A green thought bubbleI was reading a science news website and found “Global research team cracks bacteria transmission codes to combat drug-resistant strains.” I did some research related to the article and found “Exploiting Quorum Sensing To Confuse Bacterial Pathogens.”

The quorum sensing paper describes a novel way to prevent bacterial disease. It reports that many bacteria grow innocuously until they reach a certain population (quorum). After there are enough, they signal each other to activate. It is only until that activation that the bacteria cause harm.

The idea is: if you could block the signal that causes the activation, you could prevent diseases.

The most clever aspect of this style of treatment is that it doesn’t kill the bacteria. It would give the bacteria no evolutionary advantage to develop resistance to the new drug.

The way resistance normally develops, as I understand it, is that a conventional antibiotic kills bacteria. If a bacteria has a mutation that makes it less likely to be killed, the mutation gives the resistant bacteria an advantage and become more common. This leads, for example, to VRSA and MRSA.

By stopping the bacteria without killing them, there’s no advantage to resist the drug.

LaSarre, B., & Federle, M. J. (2013). Exploiting Quorum Sensing To Confuse Bacterial Pathogens. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews : MMBR, 77(1), 73-111. doi:10.1128/MMBR.00046-12

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