Scientists ‘unmask’ superbug-shielding protein

Scientists from University of Western Australia have successfully mapped three-dimensional molecular structure of EptA protein that shields superbugs from antibiotics.

The EptA protein causes multi-drug resistance by masking bacteria from both the human immune system and important antibiotics.

Key Facts
  • The shape of protein was mapped using technique called X-ray crystallography which is mainly used for determining the atomic and molecular structure of a crystal.
  • The protein, EptA, allows some strains to shrug off colistin, a last antibiotic available in the world for treating infections when all other antibiotics fail.
  • Significance: This mapping is a breakthrough because it will allow development of a drug to prevent superbugs hiding from medication. Thus, it open door to combating the threat of antibiotic resistance and is considered as a huge step forward in the global fight against superbugs. 
Background

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), infections caused multi-drug resistant bacteria kills around 700,000 people each year. This figure is predicted to rise 10 million by 2050 justifying warnings of so-called antibiotic apocalypse which could be among the 21st Century’s greatest threats. A colistin-resistant strain of bacteria uncovered in 2015 is one of the grave concerns for health authorities. The spread of genes containing the colistan-resistant protein may make previously treatable bacterial infections untreatable.

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Categories: Science and Technology Current Affairs - 2017

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