Those infected with germs in hospitals often have to endure difficult and lengthy treatment processes, as the so-called multi-resistant germs cannot be treated with common antibiotics. Acinetobacter baumannii is a particularly feared bacterium, for which research into new therapeutic approaches is being carried out at full speed. Scientists at Goethe University Frankfurt, the LOEWE Center for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (TBG) and the German Research Foundation (DFG) research group FOR2251 wanted to understand what characteristics make the bacterium a pathogen in order to find out where to start for possible treatment strategies.
A research team led by the bioinformatician Professor Dr. Ingo Ebersberger from the LOEWE Center TBG has studied the genomes and the encoded proteins across a large number of different Acinetobacter strains. strains. In particular, from the differences between between dangerous and harmless pathogens, conclusions can be drawn about the pathogenicity, i.e. the ability of the pathogen to cause disease after infection. disease after infection. With the help of a bioinformatics method.Ebersberger's team, it is possible to determine the changes in the proteins along an evolutionary lineage. Thus the scientists were able to show that proteins that are essential for the function of the pathogenic strains. essential for the function of the pathogenic strains, are found in different versions on the different bacterial strains. Ebersberger compares this to a multifunctional gardening tool, where the handle remains the same, but the attachments can be changed as needed. The realization of the high adaptability of the hospital pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii in terms of pathogenicity is very valuable for further research. This could result in treatment strategies that are specifically tailored to a particular germ.