"Super Bacteria" that resists the most powerful antibiotic treatments: this is the new threat to human health. While in 2014, an antibiotic resistance report predicted that by 2050 antimicrobial infections could become the leading cause of death in the world, causing 10 million deaths a year, a new study published in the review Infectious diseases with Lancet makes an equally alarming finding.
According to researchers, antibiotic-resistant bacteria have caused the death of 33,000 people in 2015 in the European Union. The burden of these infections is comparable to that of influenza, TB and HIV / AIDS combined, worried scientists.
One third of deaths in Italy
To reach this figure, they developed a model for counting contamination and deaths for five types of infections, using data from the European Anti-Micrheal Resistance Surveillance (EARS) Network. They concluded that 671,689 people were infected in 2015 and 33110 people died as a result of infection with multidrug-resistant bacteria.
Among the victims, most children under the age of 12, as well as people aged over 65. Italy and Greece are particularly affected by these multi-resistant bacterial infections. Italy, in particular, represents more than one-third of the deaths associated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In 2015, 10,000 people died of infections, including bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli) and staphylococcus aureus.
For doctors, over-consumption of antibiotics is the cause of these deaths. Of the 670,000 multidrug infections, estimated in 2015, nearly 75% were contracted in hospitals. Therefore, "the urgency of taking antibiotic resistance into consideration as vital health data for patients and the need to develop alternative treatments for patients who have other diseases and are vulnerable due to immune defenses or age."
Bioconjugation against super-bacteria
This estimate of the number of deaths caused by infection with a multi-resistance bacterium comes as a team of researchers who has just developed a way to modify antibiotics to make them effective against infections caused by multi-resistant bacteria.
Their work, published in the journal Nature's Chemistry, focuses on the Vancomycin antibiotic, which has been able to make it stronger against two strains of bacteria that have become resistant to drugs. They used a earlier discovery that amino acid selenocysteine can bind as a "handle" on small-molecule drugs such as vancomycin. These antimicrobial peptides, these small proteins are part of the immune defense of most organisms.
When they used this method to fix the vancomycin peptides, scientists found that they were constantly attached to the same site on the antibiotic, producing chemically identical molecules. Then, several combinations involving different antimicrobial peptides were tested, until one found capable of overcoming multi-resistant bacteria. In combination with the dermaseptin peptide, vancomycin is five times more resistant to infectious bacteria Enterococcus faecalis (E. faecalis), widespread in health institutions.
Super-bacteria Acinetobacter baumannii
In addition, the team discovered that vancomycin combined with another antimicrobial peptide called RP-1 eliminated super-bacteria Acinetobacter baumannii, against which only vancomycin has no effect. A. baumannii is also very resistant to drugs and a common cause of healthcare associated infections.
Tests with about thirty other molecules, including resveratrol and serotonin, suggest that the approach can easily bind peptides to almost any organic molecule that has the "right type of electron-rich cycle," researchers say. "In view of these results, we believe our chemistry will be a valuable bioconjugation technique for the community and could lead to the generation of conjugated therapeutic molecules" capable of eliminating multi-drug resistant bacteria.
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