Northeastern University researchers have combined traditional antibiotics with compounds that activate bacterial clpP protease and cured mice with severe, highly drug-resistant Staphylococcus biofilm infections.1 Arietis Corp. is developing analogs of the compounds to treat persistent bacterial infections.
Bacterial persistence occurs when a subpopulation of bacteria slows its growth rate and becomes insensitive to growth-inhibiting antibiotics. One place where this commonly occurs is in biofilms, which are surface-attached bacterial communities held together by extracellular polymeric matrices.
In particular, some Staphylococcus aureus infections are notorious for their persistence in the face of antibiotics, including those associated with endocarditis, osteomyelitis and implanted medical devices.
Kim Lewis, a professor and director of the Antimicrobial Discovery Center at Northeastern, told SciBX that a longtime lack of success in developing effective treatments for persistent infections led his team to attack the problem from a different angle.
"We knew from years of work on persisters