Flinders University researchers examine how bacterial cells adapt to and resist antimicrobial medication – focusing on hospital strain of Acinetobacter baumannii and its cellular response to important antibiotic colistin.
The WHO has already listed antibiotic resistance as one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development, with a growing number of infections – including pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea and salmonellosis – that are more difficult to treat because antibiotics used to treat them becoming less. effective.
Antibiotic resistance leads to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs and increased mortality, researchers warn.
“Across the world, fewer and fewer new antibiotics are being identified and produced for medical use – and this is compounded by the ever-increasing antibiotic resistance seen in bacterial strains that cause infections,” said microbial researcher Dr Sarah Giles of Flinders.
“If we can understand bacterial mechanisms like these, we may be able to apply new therapies to treat patients — especially those with multidrug-resistant bacterial infections.”
“We noticed that the a baumannii bacterial strain had a two-part signaling system that altered the potential response to antibiotic treatment,” Giles noted over the course of the NHMRC-Flinders University graduate scholarship.
This ‘two-component signal transduction’ involves a response regulator protein in the StkR/S system that acts as a repressor; when it is genetically deleted, hundreds of transcriptional changes are seen.
The transcriptional changes affect the composition of the bacterial cell’s outer membrane, leading to resistance to colistin.
“Colistin is known as a ‘last resort’ antibiotic and therefore it is critical to identify and understand the mechanisms that contribute to bacterial antibiotic resistance,” said senior researcher Professor Melissa Brown.