The natural presence of fatty acids in the human body leads to increased resistance of Staphylococcus aureus to a class of antimicrobials that target bacterial fatty acid biosynthesis. This discovery, based on research by INRA scientists in collaboration with INSERM, Hôpital Cochin APHP, the Université Paris Descartes, Institut Pasteur, and CNRS scientists, is reported in an open-access article published online in Nature Communications on October 5, 2016. The open-access article is titled “Environmental Fatty Acids Enable Emergence of Infectious Staphylococcus aureus Resistant to FASII-Targeted Antimicrobials.” While antimicrobial drug discovery is a top research priority, this new work reveals that resistance strategies involving host fatty acids can thwart the use of fatty acid synthesis inhibitors to treat staphylococcal infection. Triclosan is an antibacterial agent widely used in household products (mouthwash, toothpaste, lotion, shower gel), and in health care (sanitizers, surgical sutures). It belongs to a family of antimicrobials that inhibit synthesis of fatty acids (called FASII, for type II fatty acid synthesis), which are vital bacterial components. Triclosan was recently removed by the European Commission from its list of approved additives in Type 1 products (household products) due to potential health risks and questionable benefits. The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also banned its use in antibacterial soaps in 2016. However, triclosan remains in use, and new FASII inhibitors are in development for future use as antibiotics.
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