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Researchers from the Ineos Oxford Institute for antimicrobial research (IOI) and the Department of Pharmacology at Oxford University, have developed a new small molecule that can suppress the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria and make resistant bacteria more susceptible to antibiotics.

Hands with gloves using a separatory funnel

One of the ways that bacteria become resistant to antibiotics is due to mutations in their genetic code. Some antibiotics such as fluoroquinolones work by damaging bacterial DNA. This DNA damage can trigger a process known as the ‘SOS response’ in the affected bacteria. The SOS response repairs the damaged DNA in bacteria and increases the rate of genetic mutations, which in turn speeds up the development of resistance to the antibiotics. Scientists at the University of Oxford have found a molecule capable of suppressing the SOS response, ultimately increasing the effectiveness of antibiotics against these bacteria. 

This new study published in Chemical Science reports the development of a new small molecule that works alongside antibiotics to suppress the SOS response in bacteria. The researchers studied a series of molecules previously reported to increase the sensitivity of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) to antibiotics, and to prevent the MRSA SOS response. MRSA is a type of bacteria that usually lives harmlessly on the skin. But if it gets inside the body, it can cause a serious infection that needs immediate treatment with antibiotics. MRSA is resistant to all beta-lactam antibiotics such as penicillins and cephalosporins. 


Read the full story on the INEOS Oxford Institute website.