Antibiotics are the go-to drugs for bacterial infections. They’re crucial for treating conditions from irritating ear infections to life-threatening tuberculosis. Although we have white blood cells (one shown in purple) to help defend us, which can ingest and kill bugs like Staphylococcus aureus (shown in yellow), we often need extra help. But, if antibiotics are used overzealously and in wrong situations, they can become ineffective. The bugs can develop resistance to antibiotics, adapting to live happily in their presence and leaving few options for treating serious infections like MRSA (multidrug- or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). In a quest to develop new antibiotics, scientists have discovered the transporter in the notoriously difficult to treat S. Aureus, which pumps out the toxins that cause us to feel ill. Using this discovery, drugs could now be designed to ‘plug’ the transporter, locking in the toxins, saving patients who may have had no other option.
Written by Georgina Askeland