A breakthrough research published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry shows the development of a new class of antibiotic that can kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The development is the first to have come up with game-changing results for the last 30 years since the journey to fight superbugs began. Scientists from the University of Lincoln in the UK have successfully developed a commercially viable version of teixobactin, a natural antibiotic discovered in soil samples in 2015.
A team of researchers at Lincoln synthesized teixobactin in its simplest form to be used to counter pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant enterococci. The process involved replacing amino acids in the regular antibiotics with teixobactin.
The simplified teixobactin was then used by scientists from the Singapore Eye Research Institute to inject to laboratory mice that are infected with MRSA and VRE. The results showed that teixobactin is highly potent not only in treating infection but also minimizing the severity of infection when administered in vitro.
The study provided groundbreaking potential because when teixobactin was discovered, it can kill drug-resistant bacteria and yielded greater positive results than another clinical antibiotic called moxifloxacin.
Meanwhile, a related research conducted by scientists at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology investigated bacterial resistance to peptide antibiotics.
Peptide antibiotics have been used as the last option for illnesses caused by bacterial resistance. However, studies from the past few years revealed that some types of peptide antibiotics have shown indications of microbial resistance.
Professor Qian Pei-Yuan, the lead researcher of the team, said that this new discovery explains that the rampant use and misuse of antibiotics to solve human diseases have worsened the problem of pathogenic resistance.
Antibiotic Resistance, The New Wave Of Disease
A recent report by the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance estimated that by 2050, at least 10 million will die each year due to antibiotic resistance.
Despite the recent developments in drug-resistant microbial, Dr. Lakshminarayanan Rajamani from SERI said that there is still a lot to understand about bacterial survival and response to antibiotics. Only then can scientists be able to develop drugs that will kill superbugs.
"Drugs that target the fundamental mechanism of bacterial survival, and also reduce the host's inflammatory responses are the need of the hour. Our preliminary studies suggest that the modified peptide decreases the bacterial burden as well as disease severity, thus potentially enhancing the therapeutic utility," Rajamani said.
According to Dr. Ishwar Singh, the team is now focusing on building a bigger library of synthetic versions of teixobactin that can be used for human populations. Their work is based on 22 months of continued clinical trials turning teixobactin into a viable drug.