“This study allowed us to understand the molecular process of transferring resistance to antibiotics within the human body and the challenges we face in combating it”, said Lusa Tiago Costa, quoted by the Lusa agency, a researcher at the Center for Bacterial Resistance Biology at the Imperial College London.

In practice, the research group at the British university found that the bacteria that colonises the human intestine manages to build structures to connect and transfer DNA, allowing them, through this process, to gain greater resistance to antibiotics.

The team led by Tiago Costa is dedicated to investigating how bacteria manage to transfer DNA between them, allowing them to strengthen their resistance to antibiotics.

The work, which was published in the journal Nature Communications, demonstrated that bacteria such as E. coli that colonize the human gut build a tubular superstructure called an "F-pilus" on the cell surface to link various bacterial cells together.

These molecular structures, made up of proteins and lipids, "are crucial for the transfer of genes that code for resistance to antibiotics", explained the researcher, adding that, until now, it was thought that the extreme conditions inside the human body, such as turbulence, temperature, and acidity, degraded this structure, making antibiotic resistance more difficult to spread among bacteria.

According to Tiago Costa, the article proves that the bacteria managed to develop in such a way as to transfer resistance to antibiotics between one and the other.

The researchers also discovered that these bacteria use this structure to create bacterial communities, called biofilms, which protect them from the action of antibiotics.