SEP 26, 2018 3:17 PM PDT

What Superbug? A New Antibiotic Contender

WRITTEN BY: Nicholas Breehl

Scientists from a biotechnology corporation, Genentech, have altered a protein that blocks a signaling pathway in gram-negative bacteria to engineer a new antibiotic, currently called G0775, which can withstand resistance. While the drug is still in development and may never reach the public for reasons typically associated with drug development, for now, it brings hope to a pandemic issue of antibiotic resistance.

The World Health Organization describes antibiotic resistance by explaining that, “antibiotics are medicines used to prevent and treat bacterial infections. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in response to the use of these medicines. These bacteria may infect humans and animals, and the infections they cause are harder to treat than those caused by non-resistant bacteria.”

Gram-negative bacteria possess a double membrane that has stifling effects against finding well-working antibiotics to fight the bacteria. Superbugs are those bacteria that have developed more than one protective aspect for antibacterial resistance. Most superbug bacteria are in the gram-negative class.

A group of molecules known as arylomycins displayed the ability to be good antibiotics against gram-positive bacteria. Gram-positive bacteria are characterized not for a double membrane but a thick outer-surface made of peptidoglycans (protein-sugar). Arylomycins will block an enzyme that cuts proteins in a signaling pathway across a bacterial membrane. Researchers used this action as a clue when developing G0775 for gram-negative bacteria.

The researchers explain, "in this study, we used medicinal chemistry techniques to deconstruct arylomycin in order to develop select modified molecules, including G0775, that are orders of magnitude more potent than arylomycin and able to effectively penetrate the bacterial outer membrane to access signal peptidase."

The team of scientists shares that “these findings demonstrate that optimized arylomycin analogues such as G0775 could translate into new therapies to address the growing threat of multidrug-resistant Gram-negative infections.”

The WHO reports that “new resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases.” But if society can become educated about the issue, help can be contributed to the cause. Hope towards a new generation of antibiotics such as the G0775 excite public health leaders and scientific professionals around the world.

As individuals, to help prevent the control and spread of the resistance, the WHO recommends only to make use of antibiotics when your doctor prescribes them, do not use antibiotics when they are not absolutely required, head the advice given by your physician, do not share leftover antibiotics, make use of preventative methods like washing hands and keeping up to date with vaccinations, and when cooking be sure to apply hygienic practices.

Sources: Nature, Science Alert

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