CRISPR-armed Viruses to kill Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

26/05/2015 - 2 minutes

Antibiotics abuse is creating a whole new generation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. As the tolerance to antibiotics grows, the battle against bacteria is getting harder and becoming a public issue. However, Humans are not the only ones trying to fight bacteria. Some viruses, the phages, have been doing it for millenniums.

Udi Qimron and his team from Tel Aviv University are using natural bacteria-killers as a new approach to fight bacterial infections. Phage therapy is not a novelty, but their strategy might be: they’re using the omnipresent CRISPR-Cas tool to deliver a specific DNA sequence to the targeted bacteria. The DNA fragment encodes a programmable DNA nuclease that reverses antibiotic resistance, by cleaving the genes that encode the β-lactamase and, ultimately, eliminating the transfer of resistance between strains.

The line of attack goes even further, thanks to the combination of CRISPR-Cas delivery and lytic phage selection of antibiotic-sensitized bacteria. The programmed lytic phages are “trained” to attack only antibiotic-resistant bacteria while protecting antibiotic-sensitized microbes. It is crucial to add a selective pressure so that sensitive bacteria are favored over the resistant ones.

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