Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Engineered Viruses Combat Antibiotic Resistance

Date:
March 3, 2009
Source:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Summary:
A new approach to fighting bacterial infections could help prevent bacteria from developing antibiotic resistance and help kill those that have already become resistant.

Timothy Lu.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Lemelson-MIT Program

A new approach to fighting bacterial infections, developed at MIT and Boston University, could help prevent bacteria from developing antibiotic resistance and help kill those that have already become resistant.

Researchers from both schools have engineered a virus that knocks out bacterial defense systems, enhancing the effectiveness of antibiotics. The work is reported in the March 2 online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria pose a serious and growing health risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the antibiotic-resistant bacterium MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, causes approximately 94,000 infections and contributes to 19,000 deaths annually in the United States, through contact that can occur in a variety of locations, including schools, hospitals and homes.

New drugs are needed to combat these superbugs, but very few new antibiotics have been developed in the past few decades. "There are a lot of targets to go after, but people haven't been able to find the drugs," said Timothy Lu, lead author of the paper and an MD candidate in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST).

Lu and James Collins, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and professor of biomedical engineering at BU, took a new approach: engineering existing bacteriophages (viruses that infect bacteria) to attack specific targets. "It's much easier to modify phages than to invent a new drug," said Lu.

Lu, who completed his PhD at HST last year, won the $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize and the grand prize in the National Collegiate Inventors Competition in 2008 for his work with engineered bacteriophages.

The engineered viruses described in the PNAS paper attack the SOS system, a bacterial DNA repair system enlisted when bacteria are exposed to antibiotics that damage DNA, and other gene networks. Used in conjunction with traditional antibiotics, the viruses undermine bacterial defense systems and prevent resistance from developing.

The researchers tested their phages with three major classes of antibiotics (quinolones, beta-lactams and aminoglyclosides) and had good results with all three. In mice infected with bacteria, those treated with both engineered bacteriophage and antibiotics had an 80 percent survival rate, compared with 50 percent for mice treated with natural bacteriophages and antibiotics, 20 percent for mice treated only with antibiotics, and 10 percent for untreated mice.

"This work lays the groundwork for the development of a library of bacteriophages, each designed to attack different bacterial targets," said Lu.

In 2007, Lu and Collins demonstrated the successful creation of an engineered virus that could attack and destroy surface "biofilms" of harmful bacteria that can form on industrial and medical devices. Such viruses could be used in food processing plants, hospitals or other settings where dangerous bacteria can accumulate.

This work was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The researchers have launched a start-up company, Novophage, to develop the engineered viruses, and are participating in several business plan competitions nationwide, including the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, the BU $50K Business Plan Competition, and the Harvard Business School Business Plan Contest.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The original article was written by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Engineered Viruses Combat Antibiotic Resistance." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302182948.htm>.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2009, March 3). Engineered Viruses Combat Antibiotic Resistance. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302182948.htm
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Engineered Viruses Combat Antibiotic Resistance." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302182948.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins