NYU LogoScientists at the NYU School of Medicine seem to have discovered a conceptually novel mechanism which plays an essential role in making human pathogens resistant to various antibiotics. Apparently, these human pathogens were Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus anthracis.

Nitric Oxide (NO) is known to be a small molecule which is composed of one atom of oxygen and one of nitrogen. Until 1987, it was believed to be a toxic gas and an air pollutant, as it was first revealed to play a physiological role in mammals. NO was noted to engage itself in an extraordinary range of activities. Evidently, these activities included learning and memory, blood pressure regulation, penile erection, digestion and the fighting of infection and cancer.

Recently, the Nudler’s group from NYU recognized that bacteria may perhaps activate NO in order to defend against the oxidative stress. According to the latest study from the same group, the fundamental idea that many antibiotics seem to cause the oxidative stress in bacteria is supported. Allegedly, this stress often results in their death while NO counters this effect.

The findings of the study revealed that NO may perhaps be able to alleviate the oxidative stress in bacteria which is caused by several antibiotics. In addition, it also assists in neutralizing various antibacterial compounds.

Lead author of the study, Evgeny A. Nudler, PhD, the Julie Wilson Anderson Professor of Biochemistry at NYU Langone Medical Center stated that, “Developing new medications to fight antibiotic resistant bacteria like MRSA is a huge hurdle, associated with great cost and countless safety issues. Here, we have a short cut, where we don’t have to invent new antibiotics. Instead, we can enhance the activity of well established ones, making them more effective at lower doses.”

Vivian S. Lee, MD, PhD, MBA, vice dean for science, senior vice president and chief scientific officer of NYU Langone Medical Center said that, “We are very excited about the potential impact of this research in terms of continuing to push the boundaries of research in the area of infectious diseases. With the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria, it’s imperative that researchers strive to find conceptually new approaches to fight these pathogens.”

Eradicating this NO-mediated bacterial defense supposedly provides available antibiotics more potent at lower, less toxic, doses. Infectious diseases appear to be the major cause of death across the globe. Thus the study seems to pave the method for novel ways of combating bacteria which have become antibiotic resistant. This study suggests that scientists could possibly make use of commercially available inhibitors of NO-synthase in order to make antibiotic resistant bacteria more sensitive to available drugs during acute infection.

The findings of the study have been published in the journal, Science.