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'Achilles heel' found in antibiotic-resistant bacteria


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Targeting a specific bacterial "Achilles heel" may offer the best chance of overcoming antibiotic resistance, according to scientists.

The vulnerable spot is an enzyme many bugs rely on to destroy common antibiotics known as beta-lactams.

New research has shown that the enzyme plays a more important role in antibiotic resistance than other mechanisms that act as a barrier to the drugs.

Scientists found that a combination of two enzyme-inhibitors and the antibiotic aztreonam was able to kill some of the most resistant bacteria known.

Aiming for the beta-lactamase enzyme could make it possible to reverse a "significant proportion" of antibiotic resistance, said the researchers.

"Our bacteriology research has further demonstrated that beta-lactamases are the real 'Achilles heel' of antibiotic resistance in bacteria that kill thousands of people in the UK every year," said Dr Matthew Avison, from the University of Bristol's School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine.

The research appears in two journals, the 'Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy' and 'Molecular Microbiology'.

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