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Researchers at the Quadram Institute on the Norwich Research Park have shown how the development of antibiotic resistance by bacteria may have’side-effects’ for them including affecting their ability to induce disease.
Antibiotic resistance is still one of the best challenges to global health with very few new antibiotics and widespread immunity. It’s been estimated that tens of millions of people will soon die annually because of antibiotic resistant infections not being treatable. This new study has the potential to aid in the development of new therapies, as well as giving us a better understanding of how resistance arises, and thus guide current practices to minimize this.
Led by Dr Mark Webber, the group developed a model using Salmonella to allow a more realistic simulation of how bacteria grow and are exposed to antibiotics in the real world. The research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, part of UKRI.
Most bacteria in nature are found in communities known as’biofilms’. In biofilms, bacteria are extremely hard to kill, but little is understood about how they might adapt when exposed to antibiotics.
This showed that bacteria in a biofilm can develop antibiotic resistance very quickly but that when this occurred other properties of the bacteria were endangered including their ability to cause illness, or to form a biofilm in the first place. They also identified some novel mechanisms of antibiotic resistance which have subsequently been observed in isolates from patients. This shows the model can usefully predict how antibiotic resistance can emerge in the real world.
This study paves the way for more studies to understand how antibiotic resistance evolves in real world conditions and can help guide how best to utilize existing antibiotics and inform development of new antibiotics.
I’m proud of this work as it has been a large effort and it has provided new insight into how bacteria adapt and evolve in different conditions. We are now able to better model and predict how bacteria respond to drugs in the real world”.
Dr Mark Webber, Quadram Institute
Lead author Dr Eleftheria Trampari said”I hope this model system will be more widely used and we can understand the consequences for bacteria of creating resistance and utilize this information to help direct treatments that will minimize risks to animal and human health”.
Trampari, E., et al. (2021) Exposure of Salmonella biofilms to antibiotic concentrations rapidly selects resistance with collateral tradeoffs. npj Biofilms and Microbiomes. doi.org/10.1038/s41522-020-00178-0.