British scientists have discovered an antibiotics which could kill bacteria by ripping it with brute force. Scientists said that it is a previously unknown method that could help make a whole new generation of drug.
In the arms race between deadly bacteria and the antibiotics, the super bugs definitely gain the upper hand in recent years. Although there are more and more reports indicating that bacteria have been resistant to all the antibiotics, a new way may allow some existing drugs still be effective.
Dr Joseph Ndieyira, one of the researchers in University College London, explained: “Antibiotics work in different ways, but they all need to bind to bacterial cells in order to kill them. Antibiotics have ‘keys’ that fit ‘locks’ on bacterial cell surfaces. When a bacterium becomes resistant to a drug, it changes the lock so the key won’t fit any more. Now we found that certain antibiotics can still unlock the bacteria forcefully, allowing them to bind to the bacteria cells and kill these bacteria.”
In the research, scientists have tested vancomycin, used as a treatment for infections like methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and another called oritavancin, used to treat skin infections. “We found that oritavancin 'pressed into' resistant bacteria with a force 11000 times stronger than vancomycin,” says Dr Ndieyira. Even though they have the same ‘key’, oritavancin is more effective at killing bacteria.
“Until now it is unclear why oritavancin could kill bacteria, but the new study indicates that the forces it generates can actually tear and kill them. Moreover, since Oritavancin is just a modified version of vancomycin, the newest research can not only help us design new antibiotics, but also change the existing antibiotics to cope with the resistance.”
The researchers have also developed a mathematical model that could be used to screen for antibiotics that have the same “brute force approach”. They hope it will help them to create a new generation of drugs to tackle the most resistant super bacteria.