New Drug to Combat Antibiotic Resistant Pathogenic Bacteria
Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. These clusters of jargon are all Gram-negative bacteria, the source of some of the most severe bacterial infections that can cause deadly illnesses such as meningitis, pneumonia and dehydration.
Gram-negative bacteria are dual-layered, consisting of an inner peptidoglycan membrane and an outer lipopolysaccharide layer. The composition of these bacteria lessens their permeability to drugs and antibiotics and therefore increases their resistance to such treatments. The two membranes act as sieve, preventing to the penetration of drugs into the cell.
For decades, pharmaceutical scientists have struggled with discovering an antibiotic to combat Gram-negative bacteria and as such, a new class of antibiotics specifically targeting these bacteria has not been approved in more than 50 years. Since then, they have been fought with variations of existing antibiotics, specifically designed to breach the outer membrane.
But the misuse of said antibiotics in humans and animals has dramatically accelerated the resistance to this treatment. Both the underdosage and overuse of antibiotics has led to the rise of multi-drug resistant bacteria as it evolves by natural selection through genetic mutations. Bacteria that have a mutation that allows them to survive will reproduce asexually, passing the genes for resistance to the new generation.
However, a new class of drug has been developed by researchers at Genentech in San Francisco. Peter Smith and Christopher Heise led the team and claimed that it would help quell antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria. The scientists first focused on a class of antibiotics found naturally, called arylomycins. These compounds are able to cross the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria by binding to...