September 26, 2017 |
Evidence That Bacteria Can Evolve a Biological Timer to Survive Antibiotic Treatments
June 30, 2014  | 

Jerusalem, IL - The ability of microorganisms to overcome antibiotic treatments is one of the top concerns of modern medicine. The effectiveness of many antibiotics has been reduced by bacteria's ability to rapidly evolve and develop strategies to resist antibiotics. Bacteria achieve this by specific mechanisms that are tailored to the molecular structure or function of a particular antibiotic. For example, bacteria would typically develop drug resistance by evolving a mutation that breaks down the drug.

Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem set out to determine if they could predict a different evolutionary process and follow it in real time. Using the quantitative approach of physicists, the team developed experimental tools to measure precisely the bacterial response to antibiotics, and developed a mathematical model of the process. The model led them to hypothesize that a daily three-hour dose would enable the bacteria to predict delivery of the drug, and go dormant for that period in order to survive.

The research was led by Prof. Nathalie Q. Balaban at the Racah Institute of Physics in the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Science, working with colleagues at the Racah Institute, the Hebrew University's Sudarsky Center for Computational Biology, and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. The research paper, "Optimization of lag time underlies tolerance in bacterial populations evolved under intermittent antibiotic exposure," appears in the June 25 edition of the journal Nature. Continue>

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