starved of nutrition during infection become resistant to nearly
every type of antibiotics, even if they are exposed to some of
them for the first time.
What causes starvation-induced antibiotic resistance, and how can
it be overcome? Researchers came up with surprising answers.
"A chief cause of the resistance of biofilms is that bacteria on
the outside of the clusters have the first shot at the nutrients
that diffuse in," said Pradeep Singh, associate professor of
medicine and microbiology at the University of Washington.
"This produces starvation of the bacteria inside clusters, and
severe resistance to (their) killing," added the senior study
author, the journal Science reports.
Biofilms are clusters of bugs encased in a slimy coating, found in
human tissues where they cause disease, according to a university
For example, biofilm bacteria grow in the scabs of chronic wounds
and the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis. They tolerate high
levels of antibiotics without being killed.
"Bacteria become starved when they exhaust nutrient supplies in
the (infected) body, or if they live clustered together in groups
known as biofilms," said study co-author Dao Nguyen, assistant
professor of medicine at Montreal's McGill University.