Thursday, January 4, 2024 — A new type of drug has been shown to be effective against a superbug that can kill.
CRAB is the name of a type of bacteria that can cause dangerous infections in the blood, lungs, and urinary tract, according to the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. A group of strong medicines called carbapenems can’t kill it, which is a bad thing.
Researchers from Harvard University and the drug company Hoffmann-La Roche found that zosurabalpin, a new type of antibiotic, can kill A. baumannii in a study that came out on January 3 in the journal Nature.
Dr. Kenneth Bradley, global head of infectious disease discovery at Roche Pharma Research and Early Development and researcher, told CNN that Zosurabalpin works in a way that isn’t like anything else on the market.
His explanation was that this was a new way to do things, both in terms of the compound itself and the way it kills germs. It is hard to fight A. baumannii because it is a Gram-negative bacteria, which means it has protective membranes on both the inside and the outside.
Scientists first tried to find a molecule that could get through those double membranes and kill the germs. Then, they worked on making it even better.
Researchers picked one changed molecule after working for years to make many compounds stronger and safer.
How does it do its job? Zosurabalpin stops lipopolysaccharides, which are big molecules, from moving to the outer membrane of bacteria. There, they keep the protected membrane intact. This makes the molecules build up inside the bacteria cell until the cell becomes so poisonous that it dies.
More than 100 CRAB samples were used in the study, and zosurabalpin worked on all of them. It also lowered the amount of bacteria in mice that had asthma caused by CRABs and kept mice from dying of sepsis caused by the bacteria.
Researchers told CNN that Zosurabalpin is now being tried in phase 1 clinical trials to see if it is safe for people to use.
Unfortunately, there are still not enough effective treatments to deal with the danger of antimicrobial resistance to public health around the world, according to Dr. Michael Lobritz, who is in charge of infectious diseases for Roche Pharma Research and Early Development.
Every year, there are more than 2.8 million diseases in the US that are not cleared up by antibiotics. The CDC’s 2019 Antibiotic Resistance Threats Report says that this kills more than 35,000 people.
Dr. César de la Fuente, presidential assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania, told CNN that this is a very exciting development, even though zosurabalpin won’t be used on people for years.
“From an academic point of view, it’s interesting to see a new kind of molecule that kills bacteria in a different way,” de la Fuente said. “This is a great example of how we need to think outside the box when we’re trying to find new antibiotics.”
The researchers said that the only bad thing about their discovery is that the changed molecule will only kill the bacteria they were meant to kill.
De la Fuente, on the other hand, said that this new way might work better than many broad-spectrum antibiotics.
“We’ve been obsessed for decades with making or finding broad-spectrum antibiotics that kill everything,” he said. “Why not try to make antibiotics that are more specific and only kill the pathogen that is infecting us and not all the other things that might be good for us?”
Nature, January 3, 2024; CNN
Disclaimer: Note that the statistical information in medical articles only shows broad trends and does not apply to specific people. Different things can make a big difference. When making decisions about your own health care, you should always get personalised medical advice.