Help is on the way! New antibiotic brightens the horizon.
Right on the heels of last month’s wonderful news of the unbeatable form of gonorrhea being called the “super clap,” new hope has brightened the horizon. In the October 2 issue of the Journal of the American Society for Microbiology, mBio®, researchers from the UCLA Medical Center and David Geffen School of Medicine reported a new weapon against bacterial infection.
How it works
The new treatment works differently from traditional antibiotics. Instead of killing bacteria, this antibiotic renders the bacteria incapable of causing inflammation, effectively disarming the process.
“Traditionally, people have tried to find antibiotics that rapidly kill bacteria. But we found a new class of antibiotics which has no ability to kill Acinetobacter that can still protect, not by killing the bug, but by completely preventing it from turning on host inflammation,” said Brad Spellberg of the UCLA Medical Center and David Geffen School of Medicine.
Specifically, the researchers introduced a molecule called LpxC-1 into infected mice, and the mice did not get sick. LpxC-1 blocked the production of endotoxins, which in turn stopped the body’s inflammatory immune response to the infection…the cause of death in patients with serious illnesses and rampant infection.
Spellberg added, “We found that strains that caused the rapidly lethal infections shed lipopolysaccharide [also called LPS or endotoxin] while growing. The more endotoxin shed, the more virulent the strain was.” This allowed the researchers to pinpoint a new therapy goal, targeting the LPS toxins produced by the bacteria.
LpxC-1 attacks a group of bacteria known as Acinetobacter baumannii that causes a variety of infectious illnesses, including pneumonia and blood or wound infections. It may also lurk inside a patient without causing any active infections. It is unlikely to affect healthy people, and is common in hospitals, where it spreads from person-to-person, usually on contaminated surfaces.
The future is bright.
This bodes well for the future of antibiotics, which was looking bleak and scary for a while. Researchers hope that it’s a first step in a new direction to fight all kinds of bacterial infections. We could see a new generation of treatments that work in a completely different way…and do an end run around the bacteria that are becoming more resistant at an exponential rate. Let’s just hope it gets to market before the last antibiotic wall falls.