Antibiotics are undoubtedly one of the most prolific inventions in history, because thanks to them, humanity has been able to treat a series of diseases and infections for which there was no cure.
Unfortunately, there is little incentive for pharmaceutical companies to invest the huge sums of money required to develop new antibiotics against these threatening strains.
Therefore, the current clinical line is dominated by derivatives of existing classes of antibiotics that are known as “me too” drugs.
Now, a team of researchers from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM, for its acronym in French) and the University of Rennes (UR), have developed a new class of molecules that could change all that.
The new molecules are, in fact, bacterial toxins that have been transformed into potent antibiotics against several gram-negative or negative bacteria responsible for human infections.
The discovery was made in 2011, when scientists identified for the first time a molecule with toxic properties and dual antibiotics.
We realized that a toxin produced by Staphylococcus aureus, whose function is to facilitate infection, is also capable of killing other bacteria present in our body.
What we had identified was a molecule with toxic properties and dual antibiotics, which led us to think that if we could separate these activities, we could create a new antibiotic that is not toxic to the body. “
An efficient and safe antibiotic
With this goal in mind, the team began researching from natural bacterial peptides, shortening and modifying them, ending with 4 promising peptides.
Of these, 2 were found to be effective against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in mouse models, without showing toxicity to human erythrocytes and renal cells.
In other words, they were efficient as antibiotics without presenting toxicity hazards.
These new compounds were tested in extremely high concentrations (up to 50 times higher than the effective dose), without producing any toxicity.
The antibiotics were left in contact with the animals for several days, without any resistance to the drug being observed.
Despite the promising results, it is still too early to celebrate. The exposure time (15 days) was relatively short, and it is only a study with mice. Many times, the results obtained in animal models do not transmit well in humans.
However, the possibility of having a new class of antibiotics to combat antibiotic resistance around the world is nothing less than exciting.
It remains to be seen whether or not it works in humans, and for that purpose, researchers are already planning to conduct a phase 1 clinical trial soon.