Scientists in the United Kingdom say they’ve successfully used a “game-changing” new antibiotic to treat an infection for the first time, promising new hope in the battle against superbugs.
While still a few years away from being able to use it in humans, the success of the drug in treating infection in mice is being hailed as a breakthrough that could lead to the first new class of antibiotics in three decades.
Scientists from the University of Lincoln, in England, reported in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, that they have successfully created a simplified, synthesized form teixobactin, a natural antibiotic discovered in soil samples to much fanfare by American scientists in 2015. The team is the first in the world to work out the molecular structure of teixobactin.
The drug could help defeat antibiotic resistant pathogens such as MRSA and VRE, which can’t be killed by any known traditional antibiotics.
“Translating our success with these simplified synthetic versions from test tubes to real cases is a quantum jump in the development of new antibiotics, and brings us closer to realizing the therapeutic potential of simplified teixobactins,” Dr Ishwar Singh, a specialist in novel drug design and development at the University of Lincoln’s School of Pharmacy, said in material released by the school.
“When teixobactin was discovered it was groundbreaking in itself as a new antibiotic which kills bacteria without detectable resistance including superbugs such as MRSA, but natural teixobactin was not created for human use,” Singh said. “A significant amount of work remains in the development of teixobactin as a therapeutic antibiotic for human use — we are probably around six to ten 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.”
After the Lincoln team developed the synthetic version of teixobactin, researchers from the Signagpore Eye Research Institute used it to successfully treat a bacterial infection in mice.
“Antimicrobial resistance is spreading faster than the introduction of new antibiotics, which means there are major concerns about a possible health crisis,” Singh said in material published by Lincoln University. “The recently discovered teixobactin has shown tremendous promise due to its potent activity, particularly against resistant pathogens such as MRSA, which is why it is the focus of important research here at Lincoln and around the world.”