NOV 25, 2019 10:01 AM PST

Darobactin: Promising New Drug to Combat Antibiotic Resistance

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Every year, around 700,000 people are estimated to die from drug-resistant infections thanks to our overuse of antibiotics both in agriculture and medicine. With this figure estimated to grow into the millions within the coming decades, researchers are scrambling to find new ways to treat infections. Now, researchers from Justus Liebig University Giessen have discovered a new peptide from the gut of a parasitic worm that may be able to help. 

Known as Darobactin, the peptide works against gram negative bacteria which, due to their highly restrictive cell walls, are immune to most antibiotics. Gram negative bacteria are common; examples including Escherichia coli (E. Coli) and Klebsiella pneumoniae (pneumonia) which have become immune to most treatment due to this cellular feature, thus prompting heavy research into tackling gram negative bacteria. 

The epitome of two years of research, Darobactin emerged as a possible antibiotic from analyzing the Photorhabdus bacteria, found in the gut of a small parasitic worm known as a nematode. The worm first caught researchers attention due to its ability to feed on insects, targeting their larvae and releasing bacteria that combat pathogens similar to those present in the human gut. Isolating the worm’s gut bacteria, the researchers were then able to find Darobactin which, after screening, was then experimented with to treat bacterial infections common in humans. 

So far, usage of the peptide has been successful. In experiments with mice, it has successfully managed to eradicate several bacterial strains including previously antibiotic-resistant strains of E Coli and pneumonia. From examining it in the lab, researchers saw that it works by binding to the BamA protein, found on the external membrane of gram negative bacteria. This then leads the bacteria to malfunction, and eventually die off. 

According to Professor Till Schaeberie from the Institute of Insect Biotechnology, “"It is particularly interesting to note that this previously unknown weak point is located on the outside of the bacteria where substances can easily reach it." 

Although Darobactin shows a lot of promise as an upcoming antibiotic, as human trials have yet to be conducted, it will take some time for the peptide to be able to treat human infections. Despite this however, the researchers remain optimistic that their experiments with Darobactin demonstrate a clear potential for its development as a therapeutic


Sources: Science Alert, Science Daily and Nature

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in public relations and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
You May Also Like
FEB 06, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
FEB 06, 2020
Potential Cure for Coronavirus Found in Thailand
Doctors in Thailand have successfully treated people affected by the coronavirus via a new drug cocktail made out of antiviral, flu and HIV medication. Alt...
FEB 12, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
FEB 12, 2020
Does Traditional Chinese Medicine Work Against Coronavirus?
Over 45,000 cases of Wuhan Coronavirus have been reported globally, alongside over 1,100 deaths. Although over 4,700 people are said to have recovered from...
MAR 13, 2020
Immunology
MAR 13, 2020
Malaria drug treats lupus and prevents diabetes
A drug commonly used to treat certain types of malaria has been found to have some surprising synergistic effects: having an anti-inflammatory effect on lu...
MAR 23, 2020
Cancer
MAR 23, 2020
An Alternative Use for Common Kidney Cancer Drug to Fight Against Epithelial Ovarian Cancer
Axitinib is a small molecule drug that inhibits VEGFR tyrosine kinases 1, 2, and 3. Shown previously to potentially prevent angiogenesis and promote apoptosis in cancer cells...
MAR 18, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
MAR 18, 2020
Drug Treatments Used For Cattle Affect Wildlife
Common drug treatments used in cattle, such as de-worming and anti-ectoparasitic products, have held effect on wildlife which urged researchers to find imm...
APR 01, 2020
Cancer
APR 01, 2020
New immunotherapy for ovarian cancer
Research published recently in the Journal of Experimental Medicine suggests that targeting macrophages in a new kind of immunotherapy could provide hope f...
Loading Comments...