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First living medicine to treat drug-resistant infections developed

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A team of researchers from the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) and Pulmobiotics S.L has created the first ‘living medicine’ to treat bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics and grows on the surface of medical implants such as catheters, pacemakers and prosthetic joints, a new study has found.

Spanish researchers genetically engineered the bacteria to lose its potential to cause sickness and instead target harmful microbes – microscopic creatures that can be highly resistant to drugs.

The findings, published in the journal Molecular Systems Biology, tested the new drug on infected catheters, including in mice.

According to the researchers in Barcelona, their discoveries represent a critical first step toward developing medication to treat infections associated with medical implants such as catheters, pacemakers, and prosthetic joints.

Biofilms, which are colonies of bacterial cells that adhere together on a surface, are especially targeted by the treatment. These are excellent circumstances for the formation of biofilms, which prevent antibiotics and the human immune system from attacking bacteria trapped within them.

In the treatment, a common species of bacteria was engineered to create two distinct enzymes that break biofilms and attack bacterial cell walls.

Additionally, the team changed the bacteria to produce more efficient antimicrobial enzymes.

The researchers from the Barcelona-based Centre for Genomic Regulation and Pulmobiotics SL want to apply the modified bacteria to treat biofilms on breathing tubes in the future.

Maria Lluch, co-corresponding author of the study and chief science officer of Pulmobiotics, said:

“Our next challenge is to address high-scale production and manufacturing, and we expect to start clinical trials in 2023.”

Souce: Molecular Systems Biology, 2021 DOI: 10.15252/msb.202010145

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