01 July, 2023: A global team of scientists, including researchers from Trinity College Dublin, has achieved detailed knowledge about the structure of a crucial bacterial enzyme. This breakthrough could assist chemists in developing novel medications to inhibit the enzyme and effectively combat disease-causing bacteria. The significance of their research cannot be understated, especially considering the escalating concerns over the increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistance.
Under the guidance of Martin Caffrey, an esteemed researcher from Trinity's School of Medicine and School of Biochemistry and Immunology, a team of scientists employed advanced technologies like next-gen X-ray crystallography and single particle cryo-electron microscopy. Their objective was to delve into the intricate workings of bacteria and develop a comprehensive molecular blueprint of the complete enzyme. This blueprint holds immense potential in the creation of targeted medications that can effectively exploit any vulnerabilities within the bacterial structure.
Due to the absence of the Lnt enzyme in humans and its exclusive presence in bacteria, where it plays a crucial role in constructing stable cell membranes responsible for the transport of substances into and out of cells. Designing a customised drug to specifically attack the Lnt enzyme could potentially minimise side effects for patients, making it an immensely significant therapeutic target.
According to Martin Caffrey’s official statement in the University’s press release, “A number of disease-causing bacteria have developed resistance to a plethora of first-choice drugs used to treat them and, with antimicrobial resistance on the rise in general, the World Health Organization has for some time now advised that a post-antibiotic era, in which minor injuries and common infections could prove fatal, is looming. New drugs are therefore badly needed and, while the journey can be a long one from providing a structural blueprint like this to developing a new drug, the precision to which we have resolved this potential target paints something of a ‘bullseye’ on that target.”
This discovery holds the potential to revolutionise our understanding of antibiotic resistance mechanisms and provide valuable insights for the development of more effective treatments. With this breakthrough, scientists and researchers can work towards innovative strategies to combat the growing threat of antibiotic resistance and safeguard the future of healthcare. As we continue to explore and harness the power of this bacterial blueprint, the horizon appears brighter, bolstering our collective efforts in the fight against antibiotic resistance.