A study developed in Chile has managed to determine the mechanisms by which the bacteria that cause infectious diseases are able to leave their original chromosome and transfer infected genes to other microorganisms.
This process is necessary so that bacteria such as salmonella can cause a pathology, said Efe, those responsible for the study, conducted at the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy (IMII) and directed by Dr. Susan Bueno.
The work was recently published by the scientific journal Scientific Report, from Nature, and will allow the development of new strategies to inhibit this mechanism of bacterial virulence and move towards therapies capable of combating more virulent and antibiotic resistant strains.
For the researchers, these are relevant advances, since they are microorganisms that have appeared in the last decade that have a drastic resistance to treatments.
In this context, they warned about the need to advance in faster diagnostic platforms, given the probability of entry of more harmful strains in future outbreaks.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the resistance of bacteria and other microorganisms to antibiotics represents "one of the greatest threats to global health, food security and development" in the 21st century, by extending the duration of diseases and increase the risk of death for millions of people.
The study describes "how in salmonella there are groups of genes that are able to 'get out' of the chromosome, an event that is important when the bacteria is causing an infection," explained Dr. Bueno.
This process allows the bacteria to transmit the genes to other microorganisms, he said, adding that they then seek to "identify the phenomenon in a significant number of pathogenic bacteria."
"We realized that many of them, causing diseases in humans and even plants, share this characteristic," he said.
The study reported how many "genomic islands," a region of DNA that encodes traits of bacteria, harbor genes that vary the molecular machinery necessary for the excision of the bacterial chromosome, said the researcher, whose team includes eight IMII scientists.
In this way, he said, the presence of these groups favors the excision dynamic of the genetic islands, which ends up modulating the virulence of the bacteria, that is, their harmful potential for the organism.
The analyzes determined a new family of genetic islands for a bacterium similar to "ROD-21", involved in the virulence of salmonella, in which a set of genes with the ability to be separated from the chromosome and transmitted to other microorganisms was found, thus determining the severity of the disease in an individual.
For Good, the understanding of this mechanism can be extrapolated to other bacteria related to similar impact pathologies, such as Vibrio Cholerae, which causes cholera.
The latter has the ability to transmit the gene that produces the cholera toxin from one organism to another that does not have it, he said.
In the laboratory, "we have observed that salmonella has the same capacity to multiply the pathogenic bacteria that can cause diseases," he said, explaining that both bacteria are at higher risk for young children, older adults and immunosuppressed people.
The study of the team led by Bueno is the first stage of a work that now continues with a project for the identification of tools, either drugs or molecules, designed to inhibit the replication process, slowing down the transmission of the genes that cause diseases. bacterial
In this way, they want to "project it as a potential new antibiotic or treatment, since stopping this process reduces the ability of the bacteria to cause disease," he said.
He explained that by inhibiting the replication of the bacteria in the infection process, the result would be to improve the response of the immune system in its elimination and a shorter recovery time for the patient.
"We are in the process of being able to identify these molecules to apply not only in salmonella, but also in cholera and other bacteria that cause pneumonia, for example, in addition to certain pathogens that affect plants," he said.