Fighting Antibiotic Resistance One Gene at a Time: Karl Hassan Discusses His Research
- The two main types of resistance, acquired and intrinsic;
- Which pathogens are the toughest to combat, namely gram-negative bacteria; and
- How understanding a specific gene expression for a bacteria may provide answers toward generating compounds to kill that bacteria.
Karl Hassan is an ARC Future Fellow at the School of Environmental and Life Sciences at the University of Newcastle in Australia. He studies antimicrobial resistance of pathogens common to hospital settings. He explains that these pathogens adapted to the hospital niche and have become superbugs. Because big pharmaceutical companies experience low profits from antibiotic development, the research has been taken up by university scholars like Hassan.
He talks more about the inner workings of the bacteria, especially the gram-negative bacteria, which present more of a challenge because they have two membranes and are intrinsically resistant. He explains more about the mechanics and cell architecture and then shares an exciting find: they were able to identify a gene that was unknown and verified that when expressed, it offered resistance to the bacteria.
They believe, based on tests, it may code for the efflux pump protein. Understanding how different families of efflux pumps work will help develop compounds that can infiltrate the bacteria cells. He finishes by explaining the process for how something like this find can lead to eventual compound production.