Tel Aviv University has relieved a new technology that facilitates DNA delivery into drug-resistant bacterial pathogens enabling their manipulation. The research expands the range of bacteriophages, which are the primary tool for introducing DNA into pathogenic bacteria to neutralize their lethal activity. A single type of bacteriophages can be adapted to a wide range of bacteria, an innovation which will likely accelerate the development of potential drugs based on this principle.
Prof. Udi Qimron of the Department of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine led the research team, which also included DR. Ido Yosef, Dr. Moran Goren, Rea Globus and Shahar Molshanski, all of Prof. Qimron’s lab. "DNA manipulation of pathogens includes sensitization to antibiotics, killing of pathogens, disabling pathogens' virulence factors and more," Prof. Qimron said. "We've developed a technology that significantly expands DNA delivery into bacterial pathogens. This may indeed be a milestone, because it opens up many opportunities for DNA manipulations of bacteria that were impossible to accomplish before.”
"This could pave the way to changing the human microbiome - the combined genetic material of the microorganisms in humans - by replacing virulent bacteria with a-virulent bacteria and replacing antibiotic-resistant bacteria with antibiotic-sensitive bacteria, as well as changing environmental pathogens," Prof. Qimron stated.
To undertake the research, the team genetically engineered bacteriophages to contain the desired DNA rather than their own genome. The researchers further used directed evolution to select hybrid particles to transfer DNA with optimal efficiency. This might bring a new light in the open case of one of biggest threats to global health: antimicrobial resistance.