May 22, 2024

Promising New Antibiotic Demonstrates Efficacy Against Deadly Superbug in Early Trial

A new antibiotic has shown potential in combating Acinetobacter baumannii, a bacteria commonly known as CRAB when it develops resistance to antibiotics. This bacterium has the ability to cause severe infections in various parts of the body, such as the lungs, urinary tract, and blood. Unfortunately, it is resistant to carbapenems, a class of potent broad-spectrum antibiotics. However, researchers from Harvard University and pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche have made a significant discovery.

In a study published on January 3 in the journal Nature, the team revealed that a new type of antibiotic, zosurabalpin, can effectively kill A. baumannii. What sets zosurabalpin apart is its unique method of action. Dr. Kenneth Bradley, global head of infectious disease discovery with Roche Pharma Research and Early Development, explained that this novel approach is not only attributed to the compound itself, but also to the mechanism by which it eliminates bacteria. A. baumannii belongs to the Gram-negative bacteria category, which means it is safeguarded by both inner and outer membranes, making it challenging to attack.

To identify a molecule that could breach these double membranes and eradicate the bacteria, the researchers conducted extensive studies. After years of refining the potency and safety of various compounds, they selected one modified molecule. Zosurabalpin functions by inhibiting the movement of lipopolysaccharides, large molecules that play a role in keeping the protective membrane intact, to the outer membrane of the bacteria. As a result, these molecules accumulate within the bacterial cell, leading to its toxicity and ultimate demise.

In the study, zosurabalpin exhibited efficacy against over 100 CRAB samples. Furthermore, it significantly reduced the levels of bacteria in mice with CRAB-induced pneumonia and prevented the death of mice suffering from sepsis caused by the bacteria.

Currently, zosurabalpin is undergoing phase 1 clinical trials to determine its safety for human use. While this antibiotic may still be years away from widespread usage, its potential is highly promising. Dr. Michael Lobritz, worldwide leader of infectious diseases at Roche Pharma Research and Early Development, acknowledged the urgent need for effective treatments in combating antimicrobial resistance, which poses a significant public health threat globally. In the United States alone, more than 2.8 million antimicrobial-resistant infections occur annually, resulting in over 35,000 deaths.

Dr. C├ęsar de la Fuente, presidential assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania, expressed excitement over this development in antibiotic discovery. He highlighted the importance of exploring unconventional approaches, such as zosurabalpin, to combat bacteria. While the modified molecule may only be effective against specific bacteria, de la Fuente believes that this targeted approach could be more advantageous than broad-spectrum antibiotics. He emphasized the need for new and innovative strategies to address the issue of antibiotic resistance.

In conclusion, the discovery of zosurabalpin presents a promising breakthrough in the fight against the antibiotic-resistant superbug CRAB. While more research and testing are necessary before its widespread use, this new antibiotic represents a step toward developing targeted treatments for specific pathogens, offering potential solutions to the global public health crisis of antimicrobial resistance.

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1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it