Bioinformatics at the rescue of antibiotic resistance
Mr. X is the victim of a domestic accident and needs to undergo surgery on his leg. While recovering in hospital, the wound becomes infected. Despite the antibiotic treatment, his condition keeps worsening. It seems that he got contaminated with an antibiotics-resistant bacterium. What can we do for Mr. X ?
The natural predators of bacteria - bacteriophages - represent a promising alternative to antibiotics.
Being highly specific, bacteriophages only recognize a very well defined type of bacteria. Thus, for every bacterial strain, the corresponding bacteriophage needs to be identified. This represents a very large number of potential interactions to test... Excessively time-consuming and expensive!
Computers enable, through models and prediction, the systematic and rapid testing of a large number of combinations, in order to identify the best bacteriophage to counter a given bacteria.