Scientists have made a breakthrough in the fight against superbugs after developing an antibiotic that can kill bacteria before it develops resistance.
Researchers at Princeton University in the United States tested a compound, called SCH-79797, against 25 of the most dangerous antibiotic-resistant insects.
It included a “super strain” of gonorrhea which is considered one of the top five urgent public health threats, as it eliminates all known antibiotics.
The compound succeeded in killing all of the superbugs by piercing the outer armor of the bacteria to break the DNA of the bacteria and stop it in its tracks.
Scientists say “exciting work” could revolutionize the hunt for a new antibiotic and say the new compound works like a “poisoned arrow”.
There have been no new classes of antibiotics to treat Gram-negative bacteria – the most resistant type – in 30 years, as the drug must be potent enough to kill the bacteria without being toxic to humans.
Antibiotic resistance occurs naturally. But the process has been sped up by doctors who have unnecessarily distributed it for decades.
Harmless bacteria used to be superbugs that kill around 700,000 people worldwide each year.
Scientists have made a breakthrough in the fight against superbugs after developing an antibiotic that can kill bacteria before it develops resistance. The compound, called SCH-79797, has successfully killed all of the superbugs by piercing the outer armor of the bacteria to break the DNA and stop it.
Bacterial infections are caused by two types of bacteria: Gram positive, which includes resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Enterococcus faecali, and Gram negative, which includes Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Acinetobacter baumannii.
The main difference is that Gram negative bacteria are shielded with an outer layer which eliminates most antibiotics – which is a huge concern.
Only six new classes of antibiotics have been approved in the past 20 years, none of which are active against Gram-negative bacteria.
A team of Princeton researchers reported in the journal Cell that they had found a compound that could offer a solution.
“This is the first antibiotic capable of targeting Gram-positive and Gram-negative without resistance,” said Zemer Gitai, professor of biology and lead author of the document.
“From the point of view of” Why it is useful “is the knot. “
WHAT IS ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE?
Antibiotics have been unnecessarily distributed by general practitioners and hospital staff for decades, feeding on bacteria that were once harmless to become superbugs.
The World Health Organization (WHO) previously warned that if nothing is done, the world is moving into a “post-antibiotic” era.
He claimed that common infections, such as chlamydia, will become killers without immediate solutions to the growing crisis.
Bacteria can become resistant to drugs when people take incorrect doses of antibiotics or if they are administered unnecessarily.
Former chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies said in 2016 that the threat of antibiotic resistance is as serious as terrorism.
Figures estimate that superbugs will kill 10 million people each year by 2050, with patients succumbing to previously harmless insects.
About 700,000 people already die each year from drug-resistant infections, including tuberculosis (TB), HIV and malaria worldwide.
Concerns have been raised repeatedly over the return of drugs to the “dark age” if antibiotics are made ineffective in the coming years.
In addition to existing drugs that are becoming less effective, there have only been one or two new antibiotics developed in the past 30 years.
In September, WHO warned that antibiotics are running out, a report revealing a “serious shortage” of new drugs in development.
Without antibiotics, cesareans, cancer treatments, and hip replacements will become incredibly “risky,” it was said.
KC Huang, a professor of bioengineering and microbiology and immunology at Stanford University, who was not involved in the research, said it could revolutionize the development of antibiotics.
He said, “What cannot be overstated is that research on antibiotics has stalled for several decades.
“It is rare to find a scientific field that is so well studied and yet so in need of a new energy boost.
“This compound is already so useful in itself, but also, people can start to develop new compounds that are inspired by it. That’s what made this job so exciting.
“From a societal point of view, it’s great to have new hope for the future.”
Dr. James Martin has directed the latest research on SCH-79797, called SCH for short, after spending most of his career working on the compound.
For 25 days, Dr. Martin exposed drug-resistant bacteria over and over again to prove that he was killing them.
The team tried it against bacterial species, including Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which is on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of five most important urgent threats.
Gonnorrhea is an STI – the third most common in Britain – usually treated with ceftriaxone and azithromycin.
A report from Public Health England in January 2019 found that resistance to these three drugs continues to grow, limiting the options available to treat the disease.
The researchers obtained a sample of the most resistant strain of N. gonorrhoeae from the coffers of the World Health Organization – a strain resistant to all known antibiotics.
“Our guy killed this strain again,” said Professor Gitai. “We are very excited about this.
“But what excites us most as scientists is that we have discovered how this antibiotic works. “
Typical research into antibiotics involves finding a molecule that can kill bacteria and multiplying several generations. The bacteria develop resistance there, and scientists use it to rearrange the molecule to refine it.
This was not necessary for SCH because it already worked in the first place.
Professor Gitai said they renamed the compound “Irresistin” after the word irresistible.
Scientists have spent years trying to determine exactly how the compound works, after seeing its powerful effects in the laboratory.
It works with two different mechanisms. It simultaneously pierces the outer layer of the bacteria and then kills the DNA inside.
The CHS shreds folate, a fundamental building block of RNA and DNA that is vital for bacteria and mammals.
SCH worked against a “super strain” of gonorrhea called Neisseria gonorrhoeae (photo)
“There is a whole class of targets that people have largely overlooked because they thought,” Oh, I can’t aim at that, because I would also kill humans, “said Professor Gitai.
WHAT IS SUPER GONORRHEA?
When gonorrhea is resistant to one of the two antibiotics recommended to treat it, it is known as super-gonorrhea.
All types of gonorrhea – historically called “clap” – are caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
It is quick to develop and the strains mutate every few years to become resistant to the drugs.
Doctors have frequently changed their recommended treatments to keep up with the changing nature of the bug. He stopped responding to penicillin in the 1980s.
Symptoms of gonorrhea include discharge, bleeding, or pain when urinating.
But about one in two women and one in 10 men do not experience any signs, which is why the infection spreads so easily.
Women who do not receive treatment can develop pelvic inflammatory disease – an infection of the uterus and ovaries that can cause infertility.
During pregnancy, this can cause miscarriage, premature birth, or vision problems in babies.
Patients with super-gonorrhea may receive other treatments that may work, but may have unpleasant side effects.
Health experts warn that it is only a matter of time before the bug mutates to also resist these remaining antibiotics. They recommend using condoms and regular testing to prevent the spread of the disease.
The researchers found that their original SCH compounds killed human cells and bacterial cells at roughly similar levels.
It could not be used in a medicine because it may kill the patient before killing the infection.
However, a derivative called Irresistin-16 corrected this. It is almost 1,000 times more powerful against bacteria than human cells, making it a promising antibiotic.
As final confirmation, the researchers demonstrated that they could use Irresistin-16 to treat mice infected with N. gonorrhoeae.
Professor Gitai said: “Gonorrhea poses a huge problem when it comes to multidrug resistance. We no longer have gonorrhea medication.
“The standard strains that circulate on university campuses are super drug resistant.
“What was the last line of defense, the emergency anti-breakage drug for Neisseria, is now the standard of primary care, and there is really no more backup. That’s why this one is so important and exciting that we could heal.
The researchers hope their results will lead to new antibiotics that can tackle a global health crisis, in which no new drugs have been discovered for decades and the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant drugs has increased.
The World Health Organization describes antibiotic resistance as one of the biggest threats to global health.
Experts estimate that around 70% of bacteria that can cause infection are already resistant to at least one antibiotic commonly used to treat them.
Bacteria are more likely to become ineffective in treating more serious conditions if antibiotics are used incorrectly or excessively.
The overuse of antibiotics in recent years means that they are becoming less effective and has led to the emergence of “superbugs”.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) estimates that 30,000 people in Europe die from superbugs every year.
Figures estimate that by 2050, 10 million people worldwide will die each year from infections that have become incurable.