Taking inspiration from Greek mythology, UOW researchers have patented a world-breakthrough approach for treating infections resistant to antibiotics.
Dubbed ‘Trojan horse’ drugs, the medical advancement allows the barriers of resilient infections to be attacked.
“Biofilms occur when bacteria grow together as communities… encased within a protective polymetric blanket,” says Dr Mike Kelso, researcher with the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) and Senior Lecturer with the UOW School of Chemistry and Centre for Medicinal Chemistry.
“These bacterial ‘fortresses’ are the root cause of most chronic infections… Sadly there are no effective drugs for treating biofilm-based chronic infections.”
Rather than treating the bacteria directly, the ‘Trojan horse’ drugs trick the superbug, causing a defensive reaction.
“These drugs are recognised by biofilm bacteria as dangerous and, to defend themselves, they produce an enzyme which would normally degrade the molecules leading to their inactivation.”
The process instead leads to the release of nitric oxide which disperses the bacteria and allows it to be treated by traditional antibiotics.
The UOW-based researchers worked with counterparts at The University of New South Wales to make the discovery. They are now in talks with two French pharmaceutical companies to release the treatment.
“You need to think like bacteria to defeat the bacteria,” Dr Kelso says.
WORDS: Amelia Lindsay
(Featured image: telegraph.co.uk)