Researchers develop alternatives to curb antibiotic resistance

Researchers develop alternatives to curb antibiotic resistance
Professor Rajagopal Kammara with his team of researchers

New Delhi: Antibiotic resistance, the ability of bacteria and other microorganisms to resist the effects of an antibiotic to which they were once sensitive, is a major concern all over the world. A new study, conducted by the scientists at Council Of Scientific And Industrial Research–Central Food Technological Research Institute (CSIR–CFTRI), has sounded the alarm bell on the indiscriminate and rampant use of such ‘conventional antibiotics’ in the food industry.

New protein-based antimicrobials from beneficial microbes could be a better replacement for conventional antibiotics in the food industry, the study revealed. CSIR–CFTRI researchers have identified one from beneficial microbes, to demonstrate how it is better than antibiotics. The development of natural antimicrobials and their use in the food industry is an emerging phenomenon, researchers added.

“We were able to identify antimicrobial peptides from a beneficial microbe. We checked its function in comparison with the other antimicrobial commercially available and developed in Europe. Our antimicrobial agent was found much better as it can kill WHO prioritized Group-I, Group-II, and Group-III organisms. The molecule works in very high temperatures, in harsh conditions such as acidic, and alkaline”, said Professor Rajagopal Kammara, Head, Department of Protein Chemistry and Technology, CSIR-CFTRI, who was leading the study.

“It is highly suitable for the food industry because it works in the presence of metal salts, detergents, and enzymes. It does not cause any harm after consumption, instead, it cleans up the harmful pathogens in the stomach, without harming the beneficial microbes”, added Professor Kammara.

“Everywhere the conventional antibiotics are in rampant use, even in foods such as meat, vegetables, and even one can find its traces in water. There is huge contamination of antibiotics that is creating antibiotic-resistant organisms. This rampant use is creating major problems in the environment, the beneficial microbes are turning into antibiotic-resistant. Therefore, it is time for us to look for replacements for antibiotics. The best thing may be proteins or peptides from beneficial microbes”, observed Professor Kammara.

This study began with the isolation of indigenous fermented foods, screening for bacteria producing various antimicrobials, and characterizing them. One of the best-isolated ones was the Bug-Buster produced by Bacillus, and it was further characterized in comparison with Nisin, a polycyclic antibacterial peptide produced by the bacterium Lactococcuslactis, used as a food preservative.

“A simple well diffusion antimicrobial assay was followed to check its ability to work in various conditions such as high temperature, pH, and presence of salts, physiological enzymes, and detergents. Antimicrobial agent Bug-Buster was purified from the organism, further characterized to know its sequence, as a protein. At genome, we were able to find its sequence by whole genome sequencing approach. The purification technology of Bug-Buster has been patented and many well-known MNC’s have approached us for the technology transfer” researchers said.

ThisIndigenously developed antimicrobial agent can be stored at room temperature for three months. Having a wide activity spectrum and potential to control Salmonella, and Listeria bacteria, the Bug-Buster possess commercially viable bioprocess with Hemolytic negative properties. Haemolytic negative property is not only unique but also open doors for therapeutical use, Professor Kammara explained.

Probiotics are living organisms with ‘Generally Recognized as Safe’ (GRAS) status that several companies market as food or supplements, offering protection against diarrhoea and a host of other diseases. GRAS is a United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) designation that means a chemical or substance added to food is considered safe by experts.

Researchers believe this development could bring the paradigm shift in making germ-free foods, food preservation, and eradication of further rise of antibiotic-resistant organisms. The Bug-Buster stands globally having the ability to kill ESKAPE organisms. ESKAPE is an acronym comprising the scientific names of six highly virulent and antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens including Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacter spp.

Apart from Professor RajagopalKammara, the research team included Shilja Choyam, and Priyanshi M. Jain. The study has been published in the Frontiers in Microbiology journal.(India Science Wire)


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