BEIJING, June 25 (Xinhua) -- Chinese scientists have successfully analyzed the structure of bacterium Shigella flexneri, a breakthrough that may help resolve the superbug conundrum.
The research team headed by Huang Yihua from the Institute of Biophysics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences has analyzed the lipopolysaccharide structure of the external membrane of the germ.
The Gram-negative bacteria is part of the lineage of more than half of drug-resistant bacteria and it is its outer membrane which is the main source of the microbes success.
According to Huang, the finding could open the door to new antibiotic strategies targeting the membrane.
Since Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, the first antibiotic, doctors have been turning to such drugs to cure diseases such as pneumonia and scarlet fever, but overuse of antibiotics has reduced their effectiveness. Minor infections now sometimes become deadly. Some "superbugs" have even figured out ways to become even more resistant.
By knowing the structural basis of the bacterial outer membrane, new antibiotics can function without penetrating the cytoplasm, Huang said.
The finding has been published on nature.com, the official website of the prestigious scientific journal.
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