New Antibiotic Could Fight Resistant Bacteria

April 26, 2021
Aislinn Antrim, Associate Editor

The antibiotic fights both resistant enterococcus, streptococcus, and staphylococcus bacteria via a unique mechanism of action, which causes resistance to develop at a very slow pace.

Investigators have developed a new antibiotic that could potentially fight against the growing crisis of resistant bacteria, according to the press release from the University of Southern Denmark (SUD).

Developing new antibiotics may be a solution to the crisis, said Poul Nielsen, PhD, a professor of chemistry at SUD, in the press release. Hospitals are seeing more and more patients with infectious diseases that cannot be controlled, potentially making a surgical wound a life-threatening situation even if the surgery went well.

Nielsen said the list of resistant bacteria will only continue to grow, making it important to be at the forefront of developments for this problem.

“Resistance can occur very quickly, and then it’s essential that we’re ready,” Nielsen said in the press release.

Nielsen and his colleagues developed a substance that could potentially become an effective antibiotic, which SDU has taken out a patent for it. Unlike traditional antibiotics, this antibiotic is from the pleuromutilin class.

It fights both resistant enterococcus, streptococcus, and staphylococcus bacteria via a unique mechanism of action that causes resistance to develop at a very slow pace. Thus far, it has been tested on bacteria and human cells.

“If this substance is to reach doctors and patients as a drug, comprehensive and cost-intensive further development efforts are needed, which we can only initiate under the auspices of the university,” Nielsen said in the press release.

Nielsen said pharmaceutical companies generally do not view the development of antibiotics as a financially desirable project for several reasons, including the fact that they are only taken for days or weeks. Furthermore, newly developed antibiotics will only be used once current treatments have failed, so any profits will take time to appear. Furthermore, the bacteria can become resistant to a new antibiotic, meaning it could eventually be taken off the market.

Because many pharmaceutical companies do not have financial incentives for this development, researchers turn to other institutions, such as universities, to get the funding necessary for this research. However, Nielsen said pharmaceutical companies, universities, and other industries must band together to solve this problem.

“This doesn’t change the fact that the world community is in dire need of new effective drugs against antibiotic resistance,” Nielsen said in the press release. “Maybe we should consider this a societal task, rather than a task that will only be solved if it’s financially attractive.”

REFERENCE

New weapon against resistant bacteria [news release]. February 2, 2021. https://www.sdu.dk/en/nyheder/forskningsnyheder/nyt-vaaben-mod-resistente-bakterier. Accessed April 23, 2021.