March 26, 2018 - 14:36 AMT
New antibiotic could help combat superbugs

A new antibioticwhich is capable of killing superbugs and has been successfully used to treat an infection could lead to the first new class of antibiotic drug in 30 years, says a team of Indian-origin scientists, Indo Asian News Service reports.

In the study, published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, scientists successfully created a simplified, synthesised form of "teixobactin" -- a natural antibiotic capable of killing superbugs, discovered by US scientists in soil samples in 2015.

Teixobactin was also heralded as a "gamechanger" in the battle against antibiotic resistant pathogens such as MRSA and VRE.

The team at University of Lincoln in the UK, developed a library of synthetic versions of teixobactin by replacing key amino acids at specific points in the antibiotic's structure to make it easier to recreate.

After these simplified synthetic versions were shown to be highly potent against superbug-causing bacteria in vitro or test tube experiments, researchers from the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) then used one of the synthetic versions to successfully treat a bacterial infection in mice.

"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 realising the therapeutic potential of simplified teixobactins," said Ishwar Singh, the Lincoln's School of Pharmacy.

Besides clearing the infection, the synthesised teixobactin also minimised the infection's severity, which was not the case for the clinically-used antibiotic, moxifloxacin, used as a control study, the findings showed.

"Our preliminary studies suggest that the modified peptide decreases the bacterial burden as well as disease severity, thus potentially enhancing the therapeutic utility," said Lakshminarayanan Rajamani from SERI

"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," Singh explained.