Leeuwenhoek had stolen and peeped into the fantastic sub-visible world of little things, creatures that had lived, had bred, had battled, had died, completely hidden from and unknown to all men from the beginning of time. Beasts these were of a kind that ravaged and annihilated whole races of men ten million times larger than they were themselves. Beings these were, more terrible than fire-spitting dragons or hydra-headed monsters. They were silent assassins that murdered babies in warm cradles and kings in sheltered places. It was this invisible, insignificant, but implacable-and sometimes friendly- world Leeuwenhoek had looked into for the first time of all men of all countries. ~Microbe Hunters

Friday, 5 April 2013

Efflux Pumps

Day 'E' in A-Z Challenge! E is for efflux pumps.

Efflux pumps are a method of antibiotic resistance in certain organisms. There are proteins that carry the antibiotic into the cell then, the antibiotic acts on its target cell structure/function (i.e. transcription, translation, cell membrane, etc) causing the bacterial cell to die. When bacteria take over the cellular function, sometimes they can make an efflux pump (also made of proteins), which causes the antibiotic to be pumped right back out of the target cell before it can kill the cell.

One of my professors is conducting research on these protein structures, because if they find a way to inhibit the outflow of the antibiotics, we can use the antibiotics already available to treat the infection. To develop a new antibiotic it is estimated to take decades and millions of dollars in research. To come up with ways to combat the resistance mechanisms is a much more realistic use of resources.

Darn good and sure of it,


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