July 14, 2020

Princeton Develops Poison Arrow Against Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

A team of researchers at Princeton. have developed an antibiotic that can act as a poison arrow against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Part of the antibiotic actually punctures the bacterial wall and destroys folate within the cell. This antibiotic is also immune to antibiotic resistance.

Princeton Develops Poison Arrow Against Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

The combination. of the poisonous compound, SCH-79797, together with the antibiotic’s ability to puncture the cells, makes a drug that is stronger than the sum of its parts. The research was published in the journal Cell.

Bacteira are either gram-negative or gram-positive. This makes a difference when treating bacterial infections because gram-negative bacteria, such as E. coli O157:H7, have an extra layer of protein around them that resists most antibiotics. No new classes of gram-negative killing antibiotics have been introduced into the market in almost 30 years.

Dr. Zemer Gitai, Princeton’s Edwin Grant Conklin Professor of Biology and the senior author of the paper said in a statement, “This is the first antibiotic that can target Gram-positives and Gram-negatives without resistance. From a ‘Why it’s useful’ perspective, that’s the crux. But what we’re most excited about as scientists is something we’ve discovered about how this antibiotic works — attacking via two different mechanisms within one molecule — that we are hoping is generalizable, leading to better antibiotics — and new types of antibiotics — in the future.”

The problem with antibiotics is that bacteria evolve to be resistant to them. The World Health Organization considers this to be the greatest threat to human health in the near future. The Princeton team tried to confer resistance by breeding multiple generations, which does the trick, but couldn’t do it. This antibiotic is effective against bacteria and is immune to resistance and is still safe for human use, with one change.

The new antibiotic was tested multiple times, even against species that are known for their resistance. The medical community has run out of drugs for gonorrhea, for instance, and is on the top 5 list of urgent threats by the CDC. The new antibiotic cured gonorrhea infections.

The antibiotic works by using one molecule that can pierce through the bacterial wall. The poison then acts against folate, a building block of RNA and DNA.

There was one problem, however. The SCH-79797 antibiotic also killed human cells. So the researchers added the derivative Irresistin-16, which made the antibiotic 1,000 times more potent against bacteria than against human cells.

The researchers hope that this drug and poison arrow against antibiotic resistant bacteria is generalizable and can be used in other ways in the future.

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