Toxin – A Genetic Bomb – "Travels & # 39; in sentinel bacteria and is programmed to activate and kill only when it recognizes a bad bacterium, either virulent or resistant to antibiotics. The scheme prepared by UPM.
These antibiotics, "programmable genetic bombs", according to their managers, also prevent the emergence of a global problem that will cause about 10 million deaths per year in 2050, according to World Health Organization (WHO) data.
Description of this drug, tested on animal models, was published in the journal Biotechnology of nature, an article signed by researchers from the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) and the Pasteur Institute in Paris.
One of the major negative effects of antibiotics is that it attacks almost all bacteria in our body – and those that are useful – a process that promotes the appearance of "scary multi-resistant bacteria," UPM describes in a statement.
Therefore, smart drugs have to be explored, says Alfonso Rodríguez-Patón, professor of the Department of Artificial Intelligence at the UPM School of Computer Engineers and one of the signatories to this paper.
"This research opens up a new line of design and development of custom-made antibiotics, that is, selectively attack just bad and programmable bacteria because they can be designed to attack one or another type of bacteria."
In the same way that probiotics – bacteria develop – in order to regulate bacteria in intestinal microbiotics, "we have created a" programmable bacterial sentinel "capable of detecting and killing only dangerous bacteria without affecting good bacteria."
To do this, the research team has created what is called a "programmable genetic bomb": the new antibiotic is a toxin, a protein that is just poisoned for bad bacteria.
This toxin – a genetic bomb – travels & # 39; in sentinel bacteria is programmed to activate and kill only when it recognizes a bad bacterium, either virulent or resistant to antibiotics.
"We can explain it as if it were a grenade, it had an explosive and a safety ring. Nar is activated only if you remove the ring and our toxin does this only if it comes to bad or resistant bacteria.
And how does it work? Through the process called conjugation, Rodríguez-Patón says, explaining that this is a mechanism for transferring DNA parts that use bacteria: "We have programmed it into sentinel bacteria to send a genetic bomb to neighboring bacteria."
Bacteria have like "hairs" acting like syringes, that is, serve as a union so that the sentinel bacterium is united with the neighbors and through this "hair" is transmitted in this case an antibiotic.
Patent Institute Pasteur
If the genetic pump approaches bad bacteria, it will detect certain molecular signals such as virulence or antibiotic resistance that will trigger it by killing bacteria. However, if it is introduced into a good bacterium, it will do nothing to it.
This mechanism of selective activation of antibiotics can be programmed to attack various resistant bacteria and is possible thanks to a molecule called intein for which Pasteur Institute filed a patent application.
The effectiveness of these antibiotics has been proven in living organisms such as zebra and crab infected with water cholera bacteria.
"We've achieved that our antibiotic removes virulent and antibiotic-resistant cholera of infected zebras and that the rest of the bacteria present in these fish are not hit and survived," says UPM researcher.
In his view, this is important because cholera affects more than a million people every year, and in severe cases causes death.
However, this is a fundamental science, so we must continue to explore how these antibiotics will be transformed into reality – the next step will be to carry out experiments on mice, "emphasizes Rodríguez-Patón, who points out that, although still very, he will soon know , if all tests have passed, can be used in people to treat multi-resistant bacterial infections.
This work is possible thanks to engineers, physicists and microbiologists and part of the European Plaswires project, directed by Rodríguez-Patóna. EFEfuturo