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Pheromones and the Evolution of Drug Resistance

Posted on December 21, 2011 by James Kohl.

Researchers use whole-genome sequencing to keep tabs on the development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria.

Excerpt: “You have a culture of bacteria and a computer that is monitoring how happy they are, namely how fast they grow,” explained Kishony. “If they are growing too fast it adds more drug.” In essence, it keeps the bugs unhappy and unhealthy, thus pressuring them continuously to adapt.”

Awake, and dreaming out loud:

It may soon make sense to use  pheromones responsible for quorum sensing in one strain to suppress the pathological growth of other strains. The effect could potentially be measured in the morbidostat that these researchers designed. Measurements could help detail the molecular mechanisms involved in the typical colonization by one organism (in one tissue). This might avoid any harm done by attempts to entirely eliminate it, along with many commensal others. For example, few people know that broad spectrum antibiotics can cause peripheral neuropathy, although many people know about associated maladies of the digestive tract. The morbidostat could result in treatments that would suppress infection to levels typically managed by a competent immune system and reduce problems with mutations, as well as reduce the potential side effects. Antibiotic-induced peripheral neuropathy may be reason enough for the FDA to push for more research into molecular mechanisms, as indicated in their “Critical Path Initiative” for drugs that alter behavior; especially now that we are learning more about how bacteria influence our behavior.

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James Kohl
Retired medical laboratory scientist

James Kohl




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