New Group of Antibiotics Kills Drug-Resistant Staph Infection

September 14, 2015

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that two million people are infected with an antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year. Now, a new group of antibiotics has shown promising results against a deadly bacteria.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that two million people are infected with an antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year. Now, a new group of antibiotics has shown promising results against a deadly bacteria.

The new antibiotics focus on Staphylococcus aureus, or staph, and MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). A team from Virginia Tech are already finding promising results with the new group, saying that the drugs have proven to be nontoxic in animal models.

“The biggest question scientists have to ask to tackle antibiotic resistance is, how can we stay on top of the bacteria? Fortunately, these new organometallic antibiotics are coming at a time when bacteria have not evolved to resist them,” corresponding author Joseph Merola, a professor at Virginia Tech’s Fralin Life Science Institute, said in a news release.

So what makes this new group of antibiotics so revolutionary? Well, they contain a silvery-white transition metal called iridium. One of the characteristics of these kinds of complex metals is that they do not breakdown easily, which is important in order for antibiotics to fight infections.

“We are still at the beginning of developing and testing these antibiotics but, so far, our preliminary results show a new group of antibiotics that are effective and safe,” said one of the authors Joseph Falkinham, a professor at Virginia Tech’s College of Science.

When tested in mice, the antibiotics killed 99% of S. aureus cells in six hours without hurting mammalian cells, according to the findings published in MedChemComm. This observation suggests that the antibiotics will be safe in humans as well, but the team is currently in the middle of testing that theory. So far, however, the compounds have not harmed the human cell lines.

Furthermore, the researchers determined that the new compounds are safer than others made from transition metals.

“One of the reasons for this is that the compounds in this paper that target MRSA are very specific, meaning that a specific structure-function relationship must be met in order to kill the bacteria,” Merola explained.

The team plans to continue to study the antibiotics in hopes to uncover their characteristics, like stability and penetration of white blood cells.