A new kind of antibiotic is in the works and may soon be given to patients who suffer from antibiotic resistance.
Researchers Joseph Falkinham and Joseph Merola from the Virgina Tech Center for Drug Discovery found a type of antibiotic that fights the bacteria called staphylococcus aureus (staph) and the methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The new drug hopes to solve MRSA-related infections in the United States where 9,937 MRSA-related deaths were reported in 2013 alone.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a surveillance report showing a decrease in MRSA-infection rates. The discovery of the new antibiotic has widespread potential benefits for around 2 million Americans who suffer from antibiotic resistance. It was outlined in Medicinal Chemistry Communications, the journal of the European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry.
Unlike current antibiotics in the market, the new type contains a silver-white transition metal called iridium that doesn't break down easily. This allows the new drug to deliver the antibiotics to where they are needed in order to fight infection. Lab tests in mice show that the new drug kills bacteria effectively without disrupting mammalian cells. Toxicity tests in mice did not yield ill results.
"So far our findings show that these compounds are safer than other compounds made from transition metals," says co-author Joseph Merola, a College of Science chemistry professor and affiliate of Virginia Tech's Fralin Life Science Institute. The compounds in the new antibiotic target MRSA specifically, enabling them to kill the bacteria using a precise structure-function formula. Lab tests done in human cells have no negative results.
Merola shares that scientists have to continuously think of ways to stay on top of the bacteria to help solve antibiotic resistance problems. The researchers are hopeful that these new organometallic antibiotics can come out at a time when bacteria have not evolved to resist the new drug.
We could be looking at a revolutionary drug that will help combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria that represents a grave threat. Catching the bacteria in health-care facilities can prove fatal. It can cause pneumonia and other life-threatening infections in surgical wounds and in the bloodstream. The widespread horror of MRSA remains a major threat in health-care facilities in both the U.S. and Europe.
The researchers aim to identify the new antibiotic's various features in the next few years.
Photo: Michal Jarmoluk | Pixabay