Scientists say drug-resistant bacteria surround themselves with a defensive barrier, but researchers at the University of East Anglia
in Britain have found a crack in that armor.
A team led by Professor Changjiang Dong studied a class of bacteria that is especially resistant to antibiotics. Writing in the journal Nature
, he reports the team identified how the bacteria transport the building blocks of the barrier to the outer surface.
"We have demonstrated that the bacteria would die if the gate [allowing access to the surface] is locked," he said.
This newly-recognized vulnerability provides a platform for a new generation of drugs, which will target the protective barrier around the bacteria, rather than the bacteria itself. That could prevent the bacteria from developing resistance to the drug.
Antibiotic drug resistance is spreading across the globe, making many formerly powerful medication ineffective.