New antibiotic against gram-negative bacteria developed

Bottlenecks in antibiotic treatment of gram-negative pathogens are particularly threatening. However, researchers have succeeded in developing a new antibiotic with an innovative mechanism of action.

Pathogens are killed by disturbing their outer membrane synthesis

Bottlenecks in the antibiotic treatment of gram-negative pathogens are particularly threatening. However, Swiss researchers have now succeeded in developing a new antibiotic with an innovative mechanism of action.

Antibiotic resistance is a worrying phenomenon worldwide. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) is focusing primarily on gram-negative bacteria, which are presenting some troubling and critical cases of resistance and propagation in parts of the world. Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa or Enterobacteriaceae are increasingly more resistant to carbapenems and cephalosporins.

New economical alternatives were not in sight until now. And more troubling, the resistance of gram-negative bacteria to the reserve antibiotic colistin has also been discovered.

New antibiotic urgently needed

Swiss scientists have now succeeded in developing a novel synthetic antibiotic that could (at least for the time being) somewhat defuse the resistance situation of gram-negative pathogens. The drug binds to complex lipopolysaccharides in the bacterial membrane as well as to a protein essential for membrane formation, the so-called BamA.

The binding of the BamA protein leads to a disturbance in the synthesis of the outer membrane, which becomes unstable and the bacteria eventually burst. So far, there is no comparable antibiotic, which is why the new active ingredient is considered a novel approach.

However, it will be some time before the drug can be used in medical practice. The active substance POL7306 is currently in the preclinical phase. A first clinical study is also currently being planned.

Press release University of Zurich, 23.10.2019;
Luther A et al., Chimeric peptidomimetic antibiotics against Gram-negative bacteria. Nature 2019; doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1665-6 [Original Publication]

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