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Antibiotic Research UK Welcomes Finding of New Antibiotic by American and European Researchers
The publication of a scientific paper by a group of American and European researchers announcing the identification of a new antibiotic with the potential to treat MRSA is fantastic news says Professor Colin Garner, Chief Executive of Antibiotic Research UK (ANTRUK).
We are desperately short of new antibiotics and the novel strategy used by the researchers could lead to the identification of many more novel antibiotics. The new antibiotic has been named teixobactin and was discovered in the soil of back garden at the home of one of the American researchers, Dr Ling using a new device called the iChip.
Teixobactin was particularly active against against Gram-positive bacteria such as Staph. aureus, Bacillus anthracis and Clostridium difficile. It is early days in the development of teixobactin and it could be between 10-15 years before the drug might become available for use in the clinic. There are many steps between discovery of a new antibiotic and its eventual approval as a drug. Interestingly the researchers found it impossible to produce bacterial resistance against teixobactin in contrast to other antibiotics. The new antibiotic targets the cell wall of the sensitive bacteria and this might explain why it is not as effective against Gram-negative bacteria. Its mechanism of action is similar to another antibiotic in use today called vancomycin which is used as a last resort antibiotic because of its toxicity to the kidney. It remains to be seen if teixobactin demonstrates similar toxicity.
Whilst the finding of teixobactin is very exciting, there is a long way to go before knowing if it will be useful in the clinic. Also Gram-negative bacteria are a bigger problem from a public health perspective than Gram-positive bacteria since the frequency of infection is higher and the risk of antibiotic resistance greater.
Gram-negative bacteria are the focus of Antibiotic Research UK’s future antibiotic development programmes. ANTRUK aims to raise funds to finance new scientific
programmes with the aim of developing at least one new antibiotic therapy in the next 5-7 years. The charity’s scientific and technical panel will identify five projects and ask the public to decide which project they wish to donate to. This novel method of fundraising provides a direct link between public donors and the projects they are supporting. The charity aims to raise up to £30 million, through a combination of traditional fundraising, corporate sponsorship, trusts and foundations as well as newer fundraising methods such as crowd funding.