Discovery by Norwich scientists could help in the fight against drug-resistant bacteria

Norwich Research Park. Picture submitted

Norwich Research Park. Picture submitted - Credit: Archant

Scientists in Norfolk may have discovered a new way to prevent infection in humans and plants without triggering multi-drug resistance in bacteria.

They have found that the removal of a specific protein within bacteria leaves them unable to move and therefore less likely to cause an infection. It comes amidst increasing global concern about bacteria developing resistance to various antibiotics used to treat infections.

But the latest discovery by scientists at the John Innes Centre and the University of East Anglia could one day be used as an alternative.

Lead researcher Dr Jacob Malone said: 'We have found a completely new way in which bacteria control their responses to the environment – by modifying their production of proteins.

'This affects how a bacteria that grows on humans and plants can infect its host – if you disrupt that process, they find it difficult to start an infection.'

Scientists studied a type of bacteria called pseudomonas, which includes a species responsible for causing around seven per cent of hospital acquired infections in the UK. They found its ability to cause an infection was compromised at an early stage when its RimK protein was removed.

Dr Malone added: 'This information will be extremely useful for researchers working on plant and human diseases.

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'Many people will have heard about the emergence of multi-drug resistant bacteria – if we can target a protein that specifically controls infection rather than killing the bacteria outright, the bacteria are less likely to evolve and become resistant.

'This finding could give scientists a new target against which to develop anti-infective drugs.'

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