SUMMARY: Antibiotic resistant bacterial infections are on the rise, especially in hospitals. One of the culprits is the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa (POA1). Researchers are quickly running out of antibiotics to use against resistant strains. The problem has reached the point where colistin, a neuro and nephrotoxic antibiotic is considered to be a last-resort treatment. In an attempt to find alternative treatments, researchers in this study turned to Gallium particles coated with N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC). Previous research has shown that NAC alone is enough to inhibit or disrupt biofilm formation. When the Ga-NAC particle is internalized by the bacteria, it disrupts iron metabolism. The bacteria is unable to complete redox cycling of iron and this quickly leads to cell death. Unlike colistin, which is a poly-cationic peptide that interacts with the anionic lipopolysaccharide cell wall of the bacteria, NAC doesn’t break or damage the cell wall/membrane. This Ga-NAC particle is promising because NAC is safe to use in large doses since it is just an amino acid.
LESSON COMMENTS: Both biology and chemistry classes would find this article useful. Some topics that it covers include: cations, anions, bacteria cell walls, redox reactions, ions, and the antibiotic resistance problems. Teachers can also include this article in a lesson on the evolution of antibiotic resistant bacteria. This lesson might happen during an environmental science class or a biology class, but this topic of antibiotic resistance is a real problem that researchers are scrambling to fix today. It’s definitely something that is relevant and should be addressed in the classroom.
Young, M., Ozcan, A., Lee, B., Maxwell, T., Andl, T., Rajasekaran, P., … Santra, S. (2019). N-acetyl Cysteine Coated Gallium Particles Demonstrate High Potency against Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1. Pathogens (Basel, Switzerland), 8(3), 120. doi:10.3390/pathogens8030120