The antibiotics family has a new member that scientists believe it might not create resistance, which received a stronger welcome for its curing possibilities. It is called teixobactin.
Researchers at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, made an extraordinary breakthrough, growing bacteria from the soil. They took a sample of soil, diluted it and with some special equipment they placed it in a box and put it back into the same soil. After the bacteria multiplied and grew into a colony, it was taken out of the soil and grown in the laboratory. This is tremendous news, as Dr. Lewis, the lead scientist, points out that 99 percent of the bacteria species in the environment do not grow in the artificial conditions offered by laboratories.
Dr. Kim Lewis said that he and his colleagues already identified 25 new antibiotics using the above method with teixobactin being one of them. This is promising news, knowing that since 1987 no new antibiotic landed in the hands of doctors. People around the world are fighting with antibiotic-resistant infections, killing 700,000 every year, 23,000 in the United States alone, out of the two million infected.
Bacteria lives nearly everywhere and each of the species is fighting for territory over another, that is why it developed a weapon, it secretes antibiotics. That same weapon has been saving people since penicillin was discovered. Infectious disease specialist, Dr. William Schaffner, from Vanderbilt University, emphasizes that antibiotics kept the bacteria from conquering the entire planet many “eons” ago.
Scientists had to screen 10,000 strains of bacteria in order to isolate the new stronger member of antibiotics and its testing showed great results, curing mice that received deadly doses of MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and in test tubes, killing anthrax and tuberculosis. This makes teixobactin stronger in disposing off Gram-positive bacteria, but it cannot penetrate a Gram-negative bacteria’s protective wall such as pneumonia, gonorrhea and E. coli.
What makes this antibiotic so great is the way it functions, by blocking the fat molecules needed by bacteria to build cell walls and the scientists say that it is highly unlikely for the microbes to develop resistance to teixobactin, although the only way to find out is monitoring it as the drug is used more and more.
But there is a long time still, before teixobactin would hit the medical market, and the compound may fail as many tests are needed for the next five to six years. Often, toxicity is the case, as Dr. David A. Relman, Stanford professor of medicine, points out that mice are not men or women.
Many of the pharmaceutical companies pulled out of the problematic antibiotic field because of the low profits, with the science being very difficult and the research being costly. And patients usually take them for just a few days.
This latest research, for antibiotics that brought to light the new member, Dr. Lewis received as a milestone, believing it will inspire a new, stronger approach in the search for novel antibiotics as it weakens the theory of the bacteria’s inevitable development to resistance.
By Sebastian Andro