Researchers say they have been able to simplify and synthesize a form of teixobactin to successfully treat a bacterial infection in mice. They say that this synthetic form is so powerful at killing “super-bacteria” as teixobactin in its natural state.The study is published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.
In a “breakthrough” scientists say they have successfully tested an antibiotic that can kill off drug-resistant bacteria. This could lead to the first new class of antibiotics in 30 years.
Last fall, researchers at the University of Lincoln announced that they had successfully produced two synthetic versions of the naturally occurring antibiotic, teixobactin. First discovered in 2015, this was of course proven to be resistant to pathogens resistant to antibiotics such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and VRE (vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus).
By replacing key amino acids at certain sites in the structure of the antibiotic, scientists have reduced the development time from 30 hours to just 10 minutes. This rapid change could exploit the effects of the antibiotic and enable commercial production.
This comes at a time when antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – or “superbugs” – continues to increase. Worldwide, an estimated 700,000 people die each year after becoming infected with resistant bacteria. By the year 2050, it is estimated that up to 10 million people worldwide will die from superbug infections.
The drugs are ineffective and infections persist as microorganisms (including bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites) change when exposed to antimicrobial agents (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarials and anthelmintics). Last year, a Nevada woman died of an incurable infection with Klebsiella pneumoniae, which was resistant to the 26 antibiotics available in the US.
Researchers say finding new treatments is an “important field of study” when others are not effective.
“We need sophisticated armor to combat antibiotic-resistant pathogens,” said Dr Lakshminarayanan Rajamani from the Singapore Eye Research Institute in a statement.“Drugs that target the basic mechanism of bacterial survival and also reduce the host’s inflammatory response are the order of the day.”
It is important to remember that the treatment was only successful in mice and that there is a lot of work to do to get them to your local pharmacy. However, the team says it offers “first proof” that a simplified version could be used to treat true bacterial infections and is a step towards a commercially viable version of drugs.
“A significant amount of work remains in the development of teixobactin as a therapeutic antibiotic for human use – we are probably around six to 10 years off a drug that doctors can prescribe to patients – but this is a real step in the right direction and now opens the door for improving our in vivo analogues,” said Dr Ishwar Singh from the University of Lincoln’s School of Pharmacy.
The team says it will continue to develop a library of synthetic versions of Teixobactin to further develop simpler synthetic versions that can be used in a diverse number of applications,