A new research appearing this week in SCIENCE, led by PhD student Irit Levin-Reisman in Prof. Nathalie Balaban's lab, show that bacteria first evolve to "sleep" for most of the antibiotic treatment, and then this "sleeping mode" not only transiently protected them from the lethal action of the drug, but also actually worked as a stepping stone for the later acquisition of resistance factors. The experiments were performed by a team of physicists, who developed a theoretical model and computer simulations that enabled a deep understanding of the reason behind the fast evolution of resistance that was observed. These findings may have important implications for the development of new antibiotics, as they suggest news way to delay the evolution of resistance, one of the burning health issues today. It is important to note that these dormant bacteria would go undetected in the current tests done in the clinic. In order to bridge this gap, a complementary study from the same lab, and led by Scholar-Teacher Dr. Orit Gefen, demonstrates a new and easy method for the detection of dormant bacteria in the clinical setting and may help avoid the evolution of resistance in real time.
Irit Levin-Reisman et al., Science (2017)
Orit Gefen et al. Scientific Reports (2017)