The blog Lab Rat writes about a paper published in Nature Reviews Microbiology by Michael Kohanski and colleagues at Boston University that proposes the use of synthetic biology techniques to look at systems biology problems, something that Wendell Lim at UCSF has done in systems such as signalling networks and scaffold proteins.
The paper looks at the complexity of drug-target interactions and how a network-based approach, coupled with synthetically assembled combinations of genes introduced into bacteria using phages, could be used to probe how the cellular network behaves when hit by drugs and combinations of them.
From Lab Rat:
“By using synthetic genes to disrupt or alter the proposed antibiotic network novel drug targets could be discovered. If turned into a high-throughput system this would be far more useful than the current screening system which tests for a potential drugs interaction with a target, rather than the ability of this interaction to lead to cell death.”
The added genes might themselves form part of a longer-lasting antibiotic (or a family of them), Lab Rat concludes:
“Using combinations of drugs at lower concentrations, or aiding antibiotics by introducing them along with synthetic genes in bacteriophages allows an increased shelf-life of the drugs that we currently possess as well as providing potential systems to aid the discovery of new antibiotics.”