Resistant bacteria have been a menace killing thousands worldwide. Bacteria causing pneumonia, tuberculosis, wound and skin infections, gonorrhea have notably undergone major changes to evade the current armament of antibiotics that physicians have to fight them with.
“Vancomycin resistant enterococci” or VRE is one such super bug that has been bothering physicians worldwide. Vancomycin till now has been one of the safe and effective last resorts in life threatening infections. Emergence of VRE has physicians worried for some time now. According to the World Health Organization, serious antibiotic resistant infections are on the rise and soon may kill more people than some common cancers.
Bacteria Enterococcus on surface of skin or mucous membrane, 3D illustration. Image Credit: Kateryna Kon / Shutterstock
In a new breakthrough, scientists in the United States have re-engineered an existing antibiotic Vancomycin to fight these super bugs.
Vancomycin has been touted as the last resort in many settings and it is alarming that bugs have developed a resistance to this antibiotic as well. But this recently amped up Vancomycin is believed to be able to fight Enterococci bacteria that have been responsible for life threatening blood infections and wound infections.
The modification of the antibiotic that could be such a breakthrough comes from a research team from The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, California. This new and improved vancomycin, they have claimed could help fight physicians worldwide emerging strains of bacteria. The team made strategic modifications to the structure of the drug to make it more effective. Now the six decade old drug is made more effective at destroying the bacterial cell walls and this effectively killing the bacteria. Three major changes in the appearance and structure of the drug seem to have done the trick and increased the strength and durability of the drug. While one change protects the drug from the bacteria developing a resistance to it, two other smaller changes increase its potency against the bacteria.
The findings of the reengineered version of vancomycin have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It says that this re-engineered version of the drug gives Vancomycin one thousand times more strength. This also means that the dosages of the drug could be reduced while using it against lethal infections.
The new Vancomycin works in new ways on the bacteria to stop them from developing a resistance to antibiotics. This in itself helps the drug be more potent against the infection. It is the first major breakthrough in antibiotics in the last three decades. This ultra tough Vancomycin is said to protect itself from the super bugs while it works.
The newly designed drug however shall undergo rigorous clinical trials to prove its efficacy and safety in human population before it can be manufactured as a mass medicine and can reach patients. As of now it has been developed in the labs. It will first undergo pre-clinical testing or testing on laboratory animals before it can be tested on humans. It may take at least 5 to 7 years for the drug to come into the market, researchers believe, that is, if the drug passes through all the stages of testing safely. As of now it has successfully killed the resistant super bugs in the labs after fifty rounds of testing.