Bac­te­rial antibi­otic resis­tance is wide­spread and presents ongoing chal­lenges in treating infec­tions. A less widely known—but equally challenging—problem is antibi­otic tol­er­ance, where bac­teria called per­sis­ters are not sen­si­tive to antibi­otics because the drugs’ tar­gets are inac­tive in these dor­mant cells. Kim Lewis’s group at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity in Boston, Mass­a­chu­setts, had pre­vi­ously shown that per­sis­ters give biofilms their drug-​​tolerant prop­er­ties. Now, Lewis and his col­leagues have erad­i­cated a biofilm infec­tion with a deriv­a­tive of the drug acyldep­sipep­tide called ADEP4, and showed that it acti­vates a pro­tease in per­sister cells, causing them to self-​​digest. Their work was pub­lished in Nature today (November 13).

From a treat­ment per­spec­tive or a trans­la­tional research per­spec­tive, [this study is] prob­ably one of the most pro­foundly impor­tant advances that I’ve seen in the field for more than a decade,” said Garth Ehrlich, who is a pro­fessor of micro­bi­ology and immunology at the Drexel Uni­ver­sity Col­lege of Med­i­cine in Pitts­burgh, Penn­syl­vania, and was not involved in the work. “This is really trans­for­ma­tive,” he con­tinued. “The fact that they were actu­ally able to erad­i­cate a biofilm infec­tion in deep tissue is essen­tially unheard of.”

Read the article at The Scientist →