English microbiologist Alexander Fleming in 1929 discovered the first antibiotic – penicillin. This was one of the most significant discoveries of the XX century. The new era has begun in biology and medicine – the era of antibiotics. They were treated as a panacea, as they coped with the treatment of diseases previously considered hopeless.
he first new antibiotic to be discovered in nearly 30 years has been hailed as a ‘paradigm shift’ in the fight against the growing resistance to drugs. Teixobactin has been found to treat many common bacterial infections such as tuberculosis, septicaemia and C. diff, and could be available within five years.
But more importantly it could pave the way for a new generation of antibiotics because of the way it was discovered.
Scientists have always believed that the soil was teeming with new and potent antibiotics because bacteria have developed novel ways to fight off other microbes. But 99 per cent of microbes will not grow in laboratory conditions leaving researchers frustrated that they could not get to the life-saving natural drugs.
Now a team from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, have discovered a way of using an electronic chip to grow the microbes in the soil and then isolate their antibiotic chemical compounds.
They discovered that one compound, Teixobactin, is highly effective against common bacterial infections Clostridium difficile, Mycobacterium tuberculous and Staphylococcus aureus. Professor Kim Lewis, Director of the Antimicrobial Discovery Centre said: “Apart from the immediate implementation, there is also I think a paradigm shift in our minds because we have been operating on the basis that resistance development is inevitable and that we have to focus on introducing drugs faster than resistance
“Teixobactin shows how we can adopt an alternative strategy and develop compounds to which bacteria are not resistant.” The first antibiotic Penicillin, was discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928 and more than 100 compounds have been found since, but no new class has been found since 1987.
The lack of new drugs coupled with over-prescribing has led to bacteria becoming increasingly resistant to modern medicines.
Dame Sally Davies, the government’s Chief Medical Officer, said antibiotic resistant was ‘as big a risk of terrorism; and warned that Britain faced returning to a 19th century world where the smallest infection or operation could kill. The World Health Oganisation has also classified antimicrobial resistance as a “serious threat’ to every region of the world which ‘has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country”
However the new discovery offers hope that many new antibiotics could be found to fight bacterial infections.
Crucially, the scientists believe that bacteria will not become resistant to Teixobactin for at least 30 years because of its multiple methods of attack.
Testing on mice has already shown that the antibiotic works well at clearing infections, without side-effects. The team is now concentrating on upscaling production so that it could be tested in humans. “Right now we can deliver a dose that cures mice and a variety of models of infection and we can deliver 10 mg per kg so it correlates well with human usage,” added Professor Lewis.
The breakthrough was heralded by scientists who said it could prove a ‘game-changer’ in the struggle against antimicrobial resistance.
Prof Laura Piddock, Professor of Microbiology at the University of Birmingham, said: “The screening tool developed by these researchers could be a ‘game changer’ for discovering new antibiotics as it allows compounds to be isolated from soil producing micro-organisms that do not grow under normal laboratory conditions.”
Prof Mark Woolhouse, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, from the University of Edinburgh added: “Any report of a new antibiotic is auspicious, but what most excites me about the paper is the tantalising prospect that this discovery is just the tip of the iceberg. “Most antibiotics are natural products derived from microbes in the soil. The ones we have discovered so far come from a tiny subset of the rich diversity of microbes that live there.
“Lewis et al. have found a way to look for antibiotics in other kinds of microbe, part of the so-called microbial “dark matter” that is very difficult to study.” Dr Angelika Gründling, Reader in Molecular Microbiology, Imperial College London said the discovery , ‘raises our hopes that new antibiotics can be brought to the clinics in the not too distant future.’
“The great hope is now that many more new antibiotics can be uncovered in a similar manner.”
Public Health England also welcomed the breakthrough.
“The rise in antibiotic resistance is a threat to modern healthcare as we know it so this discovery could potentially help to bridge the ever increasing gap between infections and the medicines we have available to treat them,” said Prof Neil Woodford, Head of Public Health England’s Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infections Reference Unit.
The term “antibiotic” is derived from two Greek words: “anti” – “against” and “bios” – life. It was first proposed by Professor Waxman in 1942. (Although the mold used in Greece and ancient Rome, only then they were not called antibiotics.) Antibiotics – drugs of microbial, animal or vegetable origin selectively inhibit the vital activity of certain genera and species of microorganisms. This is the most numerous group of drugs. Thus, in Russia today is used more than 200 drugs (not counting analogs). They are grouped according to certain qualities, despite the differences in chemical structure and mechanism of action. There are antibiotics with antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and antitumor activity.
Specificity of antibiotics is that, unlike most other drugs, they operate at the cellular level. However, their activity is not constant: it decreases with time. This is caused by the formation of drug – the inevitable biological phenomenon). The fact that bacteria are somehow “similar” to rats, which had already become accustomed to the poison known to them and then eat these poisons like a harmless powder. And another trouble: microorganisms that become resistant to certain antibiotics go on to infect other people, so to deal with them need is a new antibiotic.
The first antibiotics were very simple and had too many shortcomings, namely: serious side effects, many contraindications, and the need for frequent and prolonged use of drugs, fast habituation. For decades, many countries carried out intensive work to create new generations of antibiotics. In recent years the pharmaceutical market out products of the XXI century, which cause far fewer side effects and, more importantly, “do not give the addiction. Allow them enough to only 2 times a day, as their effect lasts for 12 hours (intravenously – 8 hours). Those are antibiotics such as Maxipim, Meron, Rocephin and others.
Antibiotics help us get rid of many diseases, and often we ourselves “prescribe” a treatment. But they are far from harmless, as do most other drugs. The information provided on our site, help you understand when antibiotics – medication, and when – the poison, and avoid mistakes in their application. By its chemical structure of antibiotics are divided into 12 main groups. Therefore, we will consider antibiotics for groups to get a clearer picture of their action.
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