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Bacteriophages, CRISPR technology and nanotechnology are the best techniques against super-resistant bacteria

Ana Melero, researcher at the Universitat de València (UV) and Juan Aparicio (Universidad Complutense de Madrid) together with other specialists from up to eight European, Asian, Australian and American research centres, conclude that the best methods to fight super-resistant bacteria adapted to current drugs are bacteriophages, CRISPR technology and nanotechnology. The study, edited by researcher María José Alonso (CiMUS, University of Santiago de Compostela) and published in the journal "Drug Delivery and Translational Research", has consulted recognised experts in these techniques, among them Richard J Roberts, winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1993.
"The use of bacteriophages (viruses that only infect bacteria and not our eukaryotic cells), CRISPR technology (based on genetic modifications, where Cas proteins can be activated, allowing the RNA of bacteria and viruses to be cut and destroyed) and nanotechnology are a solution that is increasingly providing clear evidence against the growing presence of these resistant bacteria," says Ana Melero, from the Department of Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Technology and Parasitology at the UV.

According to the specialists, the recommended strategies to deal with this problem should be implemented at different levels. Thus, "patient awareness of the situation and measures to reduce new resistances must be increased, the current misuse or abuse of drugs must be reduced, the selectivity of treatments must be improved, and new antibiotics must be identified, including small molecules and more complex approaches, such as biological drugs," explains Juan Aparicio, a researcher at the Complutense University of Madrid.

What has led to this situation, they say, has been the misuse of traditional antibiotics (abuse for human use), the massive use of sanitising measures, the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture or fisheries, and the incorrect administration or termination of treatments.

In the research, leading figures in the field of advanced drug delivery systems to reduce or avoid antibiotic resistance were interviewed. They are Claus-Michael Lehr (Saarland University, Germany), and Clive Prestidge and Nicky Thomas (both from the University of South Australia, Australia), along with Richard J Roberts.

The research explains the barriers that drugs have to pass through to reach the site where they need to act, for example orally, the acidic pH of the stomach which degrades many drugs. Then, once they reach the area where the bacteria are, they have to pass through the so-called biofilm, which is a kind of gel that forms when several bacteria form a colony with water, carbohydrates and proteins that they secrete, and which serves to protect the colony. Once the drugs pass through this biofilm and reach the bacteria, they mainly have to overcome its outer covering.

This perspective work has involved specialists from the young scientific committee of the international Controlled Release Society: Chelsea Thorn, Nikhar Viswakarma and Juan Aparicio, and the article had its genesis at the society's annual meeting. The journal Drug Delivery and Translational Research is associated with the CRS. The editor of this article is Mª José Alonso (National Research Award, Jaume I Award).


Article reference: Aparicio-Blanco, J., Vishwakarma, N., Lehr, CM. et al. «Antibiotic resistance and tolerance: What can drug delivery do against this global threat?». Drug Deliv. and Transl. Res. (2024).