A team of researchers re-engineered an existing antibiotic, namely vancomycin, to help it better fight against superbugs. This new version of the old medicine is stronger than the already existing one. It should also be about a thousand times more potent, and capable of preventing antibiotic resistance.
Currently, this new type of vancomycin was only tested on VRE samples in the lab. Animal and human tests still remain to be carried out. A paper describing the development process is available in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Renewed Version of this Existing Antibiotic Should Help in The Battle Against Superbugs
The new vancomycin is the creation of a team of The Scripps Research Institute scientists. They were led by Dale Boger, who is the co-chair of the TSRI Department of Chemistry.
“Doctors could use this modified form of vancomycin without fear of resistance emerging,” stated Boger.
Together with his team, they determined a method through which the researchers structurally modified vancomycin. They used a powerful version of the existing antibiotic and exponentially increased its potency.
The original vancomycin started being prescribed more than 60 years ago. Still, bacteria are only just now developing a resistance to it thanks to its being a strong antibiotic. This drug’s original “mechanism of action” works by preventing and disturbing the bacteria as it is trying to form cell walls.
According to Boger, previous studies proved both the existing antibiotic’s strength and the fact that it could be made even more potent. This could become possible by making two modifications.
The study lead also stated that: “With these modifications, you need less of the drug to have the same effect.”
Research results seem to indicate the possibility of making even a third modification. This could increase vancomycin activity by a 1,000-fold. In turn, this would also mean a reduction of the necessary medicine dose.
Tests showed the new vancomycin’s effects against both the original and the resistant form of the Enterococci bacteria, killing them both.
The team will now look to simplify the synthesis of this new antibiotic and to carry on with tests targeting its effects.
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