Research on antibiotic resistance, specifically looking at gene-swapping systems in bacteria, has been awarded €2.5 million from the European Research Council
The research project, led by Professor José Penadés at the Imperial Department for Infectious Disease, received a five-year grant for €2.5 million.
Scientists are looking at the bacterium behind superbug MRSA
The machinations behind antibiotic resistance are really essential in the field of healthcare, as infections which mutate beyond the reach of medicines can create public health crises. Research on antibiotic resistance can then create essential strategy to protect lives across the globe.
The project looks at Staphylococcus aureus, the bacterium that causes the superbug MRSA. Prior to this moment, his team found that these bacteria pass vast genetic packages between one another at rapid pace through a process called ‘lateral transduction’.
However, they have recently discovered two brand new types of genetic courier systems that could pass bigger packages of pathogenic DNA even faster. The funding will allow Professor Penadés’ team to study these processes in more detail.
They will study how common the two new couriers are in nature and how they affect the bacterial genome, as well as whether they make bacteria more harmful to humans and resistant to antibiotic drugs.
They will also try to figure out what makes bacteria swap DNA, by studying them in different environments.
Professor will try to reveal the mechanisms underneath antimicrobial resistance
Professor Penadés said: “We are delighted to receive this grant from the European Research Council to study these novel gene-swapping systems in more detail. Bacteria can adapt to many scenarios because they can exchange information very efficiently, and we believe that the new systems that we have discovered are especially quick and can transport large amounts of genetic information.
“Our research will be useful to understand the mechanisms that might underlie antimicrobial resistance and could give clues about how we can tackle this important issue. This research could lead to major changes in our understanding of how these systems affect bacterial evolution.”
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