New antibiotic kills pathogens without detectable resistance, might help fight future superbugs

U.S. scientists have discovered a new class of antibiotics that can kill a wide range of dangerous, drug-resistant bacteria

bacterial colonies image
U.S. scientists have discovered a new class of antibiotics that can kill a wide range of dangerous, drug-resistant bacteria. Image via Lee Maguire.

Abstract

Antibiotic resistance is spreading faster than the introduction of new compounds into clinical practice, causing a public health crisis. Most antibiotics were produced by screening soil microorganisms, but this limited resource of cultivable bacteria was overmined by the 1960s. Synthetic approaches to produce antibiotics have been unable to replace this platform. Uncultured bacteria make up approximately 99% of all species in external environments, and are an untapped source of new antibiotics. We developed several methods to grow uncultured organisms by cultivation in situ or by using specific growth factors. Here we report a new antibiotic that we term teixobactin, discovered in a screen of uncultured bacteria. Teixobactin inhibits cell wall synthesis by binding to a highly conserved motif of lipid II (precursor of peptidoglycan) and lipid III (precursor of cell wall teichoic acid). We did not obtain any mutants of Staphylococcus aureus or Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistant to teixobactin. The properties of this compound suggest a path towards developing antibiotics that are likely to avoid development of resistance.

Sources and more information
  • A new antibiotic kills pathogens without detectable resistance, Nature (2015) doi:10.1038/nature14098, 07 January 2015 – full article.
  • A New Drug in the Age of Antibiotic Resistance, theatlantic, Jan 7 2015.
  • Antibiotics: US discovery labelled ‘game-changer’ for medicine,
    BBC News, 7 January 2015.
  • Revolutionary New Antibiotic Kills Drug-Resistant Germs,
    livescience, 7 January 2015.

Author: DES Daughter

Activist, blogger and social media addict committed to shedding light on a global health scandal and dedicated to raise DES awareness.

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