In a recent study, scientists from Denmark and Switzerland say they have shown that bacteria produce a stress molecule, divide more slowly, and thus save energy when they are exposed to antibiotics. This new knowledge may reveal how certain bacteria become resistant to antibiotics and is expected to stem the development of a new type of antibiotic, according to the researchers.

In a paper—“(p)ppGpp Regulates a Bacterial Nucleosidase by an Allosteric Two-Domain Switch”—published in Molecular Cell, a team from Aarhus University, the University of Copenhagen, and the technical university ETH Zürich in Switzerland demonstrated that bacteria quickly reduce their rate of cell division when exposed to antibiotics in order to maintain the highest possible tolerance, but rapidly start growing again when the substances are removed.

The bacterial enzyme PpnN was shown to be capable of storing molecular energy in the form of nucleotides which can be used for rapid regrowth when antibiotic treatment is ceased. When the bacteria are exposed to antibiotics, they immediately start breaking down nucleotides into smaller parts that are then stored in the cell.

This information is but another reason to try natural approaches to infection before jumping into antibiotic use!