A new study, published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, offers the first proof that a new synthetic form of the antibiotic teixobactin can neutralize drug-resistant bacteria.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that antibiotic resistance is “one of the world’s most pressing public health problems.”
In the United States alone, 2 million people are believed to become infected by drug-resistant bacteria per year, and more than 23,000 U.S. individuals die as a result.
The threat of antibiotic-resistant pathogens is particularly high in healthcare facilities.
In fact, a 2016 report by the CDC shows that 1 in 4 healthcare-associated infections that occur in long-term care are caused by one of the following six drug-resistant bacteria:
- Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
- ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae
- Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE)
- Multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa
- Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter
Three years ago, scientists discovered that a natural antibiotic called teixobactin might have the potential to kill off MRSA and VRE.
Now, a team of researchers has created, for the first time, a synthetic version of the drug, which was used successfully to treat an infection in mice.
The new antibiotic has been called “game-changing,” and the findings may “lead to the first new class of antibiotic drug in 30 years.”
Ishwar Singh, a drug design specialist and senior lecturer in biological chemistry at the University of Lincoln’s School of Pharmacy in the United Kingdom, is the corresponding author of the new study.
New drug clears infection in mice
Singh and colleagues studied the structure of teixobactin and found key amino acids that, when replaced, made the antibiotic easier to replicate into 10 synthetic analogs.
The team then tested these synthetic versions in vitro. “These [analogs],” write the authors, “showed highly potent antibacterial activities against Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA, and [VRE].”
Also, one of these analogs was found to be noncytotoxic both in vitro and in vivo, report the scientists.