Researchers Discover First Antibiotic in Decades to Fight Chronic Infections
While the heyday of antibiotics was in the 1950s and 1960s, believe it or not, nothing discovered since the late 80s has made it into doctor’s hands. But that all could soon change following the latest research. US researchers have discovered an antibiotic which could soon be developed into a drug to treat chronic infections.
The antibiotic, developed by researchers from Northeastern University in the US state of Boston, eliminates pathogens – basically, anything that causes a disease – without encountering any detectable resistance. This is a finding Northeastern University says is set to hold “great promise” for treating chronic infections, such as tuberculosis, as well as those caused by the superbug known as MRSA. The research has been published in the journal Nature.
The Northeastern University researchers’ work to develop a novel method for growing uncultured bacteria led to the discovery of the antibiotic, called teixobactin. University professor Kim Lewis, the research paper’s lead author, says this marks the first discovery of an antibiotic to which resistance by mutations of pathogens have not been identified – in other words, one that could fight off such pathogens without them developing resistance.
The research team says teixobactin’s discovery presents a promising new opportunity to treat chronic infections caused by staphylococcus aureus – a bacteria frequently found in the human respiratory tract and on the skin – or MRSA, which are highly resistant to antibiotics, as well as tuberculosis, involving a combination of therapies.
Speaking about the antibiotic discovery, Lewis says that it is his impression that nature has produced a compound that evolves to be “free of resistance, which challenges the belief that bacteria will “always develop resistance.”
Northeastern University says the research team now hopes to develop teixobactin into a drug. Lewis said this latest research also lays new ground to advance his innovative work on treating MRSA and other chronic infections.