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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Antibiotic hope

4th December 2009

UK researchers say that a “double-headed” antibiotic could lead to powerful new drugs to beat resistance.


Writing in the journal Science, they outline how the new antibiotic sticks to bacteria in two places making it more potent and reduces the chance that bacteria will adapt to resist it.

The scientists’ work focused on the naturally occurring molecule made by soil bacteria called simocyclinone, which attacks an enzyme in bacteria known as DNA gyrase and stops them from growing.

The antibiotic group fluoroquinolones is currently used to target the enzyme, but resistance to that is increasing.

Simocyclinone binds to a different part of the enzyme and also latches on in two places, effectively making it 100 times more powerful.

Study leader Professor Tony Maxwell from the John Innes Centre in Norwich, said: "If you can knock out this enzyme, you have a potential new drug.

"The fact that there are two pockets means that it might require simultaneous mutations in both pockets for the bacteria to acquire full resistance to the drug, which is much less likely."

However, the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy warn hurdles to developing antibiotics remain and it has set up a working group to try and overcome restraints.

Professor Laura Piddock said: “Antibiotic drug development worldwide is in the doldrums because it's very expensive to get drugs through the regulatory process.

"These results are exciting because having a single molecule that targets two separate parts of the enzyme is new and novel.”


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