With superbugs on the rise around the world. British scientists have made a breakthrough.
Scientists have made a breakthrough in the antibiotic resistance battle — the urgency has never been greater, says Lois Rogers
British scientists claim they have beaten more than a dozen rival teams around the world in the race towards a new synthetic antibiotic. They hope that the agent — an improved version of a natural antibiotic called teixobactin, discovered in soil by U.S. scientists in 2015 — will provide a new treatment for resistant hospital superbugs and a range of other infections that are becoming impervious to our battered medicine cupboard of 20th-century antibiotics.
The group from the University of Lincoln, the site of a new medical school due to open in September, has been collaborating with groups from the University of Liverpool, as well as academic researchers in the Netherlands, Belgium and Singapore, to achieve the advance.
Their data, just published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, provides the first evidence using mice that the treatment can knock out methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant enterococci, both of which appear on a World Health Organization [WHO] list of 12 “priority pathogens” — treatment-resistant families of bacteria that represent the biggest threats to human health. Their work is an advance, but not yet a game-changer. Data from the Philadelphia-based Pew Charitable Trusts, which is tracking progress in the superbug war, indicates there are 80 possible antibiotic drugs, vaccines and other “non-traditional” candidate products in development round the world, which could save us from losing the war against new generations of killer infections.
The need has never been more urgent. A recent global study from a team at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, showed the problem has been fuelled by an astonishing 65 per cent increase in antibiotic use between 2000 and 2015.