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17: The new antibiotics

Problem:

Dangerous bacteria are becoming resistant to our arsenal of colistin antibiotics, rendering them ineffective and increasing the threat and likelihood of catastrophic public health consequences.

Solution:

A new family of antibiotics inspired by existing natural bacterial peptides – compounds similar to proteins but smaller – could provide new possibilities to overcome this resistance.

In 2011, a team at the health science company Inserm led by Professor Brice Felden and working with Michèle Baudy and his team at Rennes Institute of Chemical Sciences in Brittany discovered a new toxin that they transformed into antibiotics by modifying the peptides of the toxin’s bacteria.

Out of the twenty molecules created, two proved effective against resistant Staphylococcus aureus – one the most dangerous of the  staphylococcal bacteria – and against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which often causes infections in hospital patients.

Felden and his team tested these molecules at doses 10 to 50 times higher than the effective dose without seeing toxicity. After several days of direct exposure to the drugs in vivo, the bacteria still showed no signs of resistance.

To truly ensure this was the case, the team created conditions that were particularly favorable to resistance and still found a negative result. Longer experimental stages could be helpful, and the team’s next steps are to launch clinical trials on humans.

The patent has been licensed and a startup created.

They are not alone.

National Public Radio in the USA (NPR) reports that

A recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Researchers at Brown, Emory and Harvard universities found that they can repurpose bithionol — a drug formerly used to treat parasitic infections in horses — to kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including MRSA, a common hospital-acquired infection.

You can read the full NPR article »» here

Discover solution 18: Using electronics to catch poachers

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