Gonorrhea: New Drug Looks Promising

Scientists have been busy in the lab. Molecules that release carbon-monoxide are considered the key to developing a new antibiotic to fight gonorrhea.

Scientists have recently made a breakthrough in using carbon-monoxide releasing molecules to develop a new antibiotic to fight gonorrhea.

The sexually transmitted disease (STD), caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae has steadily developed antibiotic-resistant strains, which have been cause for growing public health concerns. Reports have indicated that gonorrhea is the second most common STD in the United States and England, following chlamydia.

Despite concerns the infection is becoming untreatable, researchers from the University of York in England targeted Neisseria gonorrhoeae (“the engine room”) with chemical compounds that discharge controlled amounts of carbon monoxide, which is produced naturally in the body.

The team discovered that Neisseria gonorrhoeae was highly sensitive to carbon monoxide compared to other bacterial pathogens, allowing it to be a potential option for antimicrobial therapy. The carbon dioxide molecule specifically works by bonding to the bacteria and preventing them from producing energy.

While generally lethal to humans, the gas (at low concentrations) can have a similarly poisonous impact on the gonorrhea bacteria. According to Ian Fairlamb, PhD, Department of Chemistry, University of York and the stud’s co-author, “The carbon monoxide molecule targets the engine room, stopping the bacteria from respiring. Gonorrhea only has one enzyme that needs inhibiting and then it can’t respire oxygen and it dies.”

Given the evidence, the team’s next step is to develop a drug, either pill or cream, to translate their findings to tangible clinical trials.

Fairlamb concluded, “It isn’t the final drug yet, but it is pretty close to it. People might perceive gonorrhea as a trivial bacterial infection, but the disease is becoming more dangerous and resistant to antibiotics.”

While experts have assured gonorrhea is a curable condition with targeted treatment administered as directed, it could still lead to severe health complications if left untreated.

The study, “Toxicity of tryptophan manganese(I) carbonyl (Trypto-CORM), against Neisseria gonorrhoeae,” was published in MedChemComm.

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