Attempting to catch up with bacteria's resistance to drugs, University of California, Los Angeles, CA (UCLA) researchers have manufactured an antibiotic that they believe will counteract bacterial antibiotic resistance.
Attempting to catch up with bacteria’s resistance to drugs, University of California, Los Angeles, CA (UCLA) researchers have manufactured an antibiotic that they believe will counteract bacterial antibiotic resistance.
Their report published in ACS Nano outlined their creation of antibiotics that targeted persister cells, which play a strong role in bacterial resistance.
During treatment, persister cells combat antibiotics by slowing down their metabolism and related processes. Persister cells act as a “reservoir” by passing on genetic mutations when bacteria reproduces, a UCLA statement pointed out.
According to researchers, trying to create a whole new antibiotic would be futile as the rate of bacterium’s evolution would
“It takes upwards of $100 million to develop one antibiotic drug, and bacteria develop resistance to it within two years. It’s a race that we can’t win,” Wong commented. “This reality brought us to the idea of taking an existing antibiotic and renovating it, giving it a new, complementary antimicrobial ability while preserving its original ability to make a better drug overall.”
Investigators began their experiment using tobramycin, an antibiotic which attacks bacterial ribosomes, but are powerless against persisters with low metabolism. By adding 12 amino acids to tobramycin molecules, researchers created a new antibiotic called Pentobra.
“The resulting molecule spontaneously permeates membranes, retains the high antibiotic activity of aminoglycosides, kills E. coli and S. aureus persisters 4-6 logs better than tobramycin, but remains noncytoxic to eukaryotes,” the authors reported.
“The molecule’s synergistic effect of sabotaging protein synthesis and punching holes in cell membranes, Wong claimed, was highly beneficial.
“The two mechanisms work with one another quite nicely, which might be what makes this antibiotic so powerful and why Pentobra can kill persister cell strains 10,000 to 1 million times better than tobramycin,” Wong said.
The investigators believed the method’s sheer efficacy could lead to a new, viable treatment tactic.
“The results presented here demonstrate that equipping aminoglycosides with autonomous membrane activity is a viable approach to expand their spectrum of activity to include persisters,” the researchers concluded.