In a major advance against anti-biotic resistant bacteria, scientists at the University of California, Berkley have devised a 3D imaging technique that lets them study groups of bacteria responsible for such diseases as chronic sinusitis, cholera, and lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients.
The key to the finding is the understanding that bacteria spend most of their lives in colonies or "biofilms," even in the human body. While a single bacterium may be conquered by antibiotics, the biofilms can be 1,000 times more resistant. ”
The researchers published their findings in the July 13th issue of the journal Science.
A university release by Robert Sanders reports that the new imaging techniques "allowed UC Berkeley researchers to zoom into these clusters and record how the bacteria build their impregnable 'castles'; providing key targets for drugs to break up the biofilms. By devising a new fluorescent labeling strategy and employing super-resolution light microscopy, the researchers were able to examine the structure of . . . biofilms that make these infections so tenacious. They also identified genetic targets for potential drugs that could break up the bacterial community and expose the bugs to the killing power of antibiotics."
Sanders quotes lead researcher Veysel Berk of the Department of Physics at UC Berkeley as saying, “Eventually, we want to make these bugs homeless." Study co-author Steven Chu, a Nobel laureate and former UC Berkeley professor, added, "This work has led to new insights into the development of these complex structures and will no doubt pave the way to new approaches to fighting infectious disease and also bacteriological applications in environmental and industrial settings.”