US scientists discover “game changer“ antibiotic to take on super bugs
08 January 2015
A new discovery in antibiotics promises to usher in revolutionary change in medicine thanks to a breakthrough by US scientists, who used a novel method for bacteria growth.
The novel method had yielded 25 new antibiotics, of which one had been described as "very promising".
The development follows nearly three decades after the last discovery which made it to the clinic.
The study, in the journal Nature, had been described as a "game-changer" and according to experts the antibiotic haul was only the "tip of the iceberg".
After the heyday of antibiotic discovery in the 1950s and 1960s, it was only in 1987 that a new antibiotic was discovered that made it into doctor's hands.
But over the years microbes had become incredibly resistant and drug-resistant tuberculosis was now resistant to everything medicine could throw at it.
The researchers, at the Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, turned to the source of nearly all antibiotics – soil, which is teeming with microbes, of which only 1 per cent could be grown in the laboratory.
The researchers went about creating a "subterranean hotel" for bacteria, with one bacterium placed in each "room" and the whole device buried in soil.
According to lead scientist, professor Kim Lewis, so far 25 new antibiotics had been discovered using this method and Teixobactin was the latest and most promising one.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported, every time an antibiotic was used, bacteria got to know it a little better and eventually developed methods to resist it. However because of its unique method of action, the new antibiotic could keep working for longer than any other before bacteria even started to get wise - maybe even longer than 30 years.
Teixobactin, was a couple of years away from human trials and at least four years away from being in use. Also it does not, treat some of the world's nastiest bugs, though, it could still make an impact on health.
According to Laura Piddock, a professor at the University of Birmingham in England, it was an ''amazing'' study and that the tool ''could be a game-changer.''
She added the discovery of the new antibiotic from a new class with a novel mode of action was very exciting.
The reasearchers found that Teixobactin successfully obliterated MRSA and drug-resistant TB in cell cultures and in mice, and that too without any signs that the bacteria might become resistant to it.
Also, importantly, it did so without killing the mice, which was actually a concern. The drug proved to be so effective in cell cultures that the researchers assumed it would blindly kill mammalian cells along with bacteria.
However, the mice, who were infected with MRSA and given pneumonia, did not die or have notable side effects.