'Surprising link' leads toward a new antibiotic

May 28, 2009 by Suzanne Morrison
'Surprising link' leads toward a new antibiotic
Eric Brown, professor and chair of the Deparment of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences in the DeGroote School of Medicine, is lead author of a study that may lead to a new antibiotic.

(PhysOrg.com) -- As the best drugs become increasingly resistant to superbugs, McMaster University researchers have discovered a completely different way of looking for a new antibiotic.

In a paper to be published published Friday, May 29 in the journal Chemistry and Biology, with colleagues in Germany and Wilfrid Laurier University, they report on work with the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, the leading cause of infections in hospitals and the second most common community-acquired infection. Fewer and fewer antibiotics are effective against this bacteria.

Cell wall-active antibiotics, such as penicillin, kill bacteria by blocking production of the cell wall.

The researchers provide new evidence for genetic connections among three processes in the cell wall - teichoic acid, peptidoglycan and poly-isoprenoid synthesis. "Never before has such a profound link been drawn between these biosynthetic pathways supported by genetic, computational and biochemical evidence," they said in their paper.

"We found a connection that perhaps no one expected in the way the cell wall synthesis is wired," said lead author Eric Brown, professor and chair of the department of biochemistry and biomedical sciences in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

"We found they are inextricably linked in their genetics and biochemistry," he said. "Along the way in this study, we have built a system that is ripe for being exploited as a way to search for small molecule drugs that would target these processes."

Potentially, he said, this may lead to the development of a new antibiotic.

Brown said the current arsenal of antibiotics was developed during the golden age of antibiotic drug discovery from 1930 to 1960, and then development stopped.

Research began again in earnest, he said, when troublesome strains of hospital and community-acquired infections began to emerge, such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). "Since the 1960s, drug companies have for, the most part, been tweaking existing molecules, such as building better penicillin with minor changes to the original scaffold. But, you are not very far away from resistance when all you do is a little tweak."

The discovery of a "surprising link" between the three processes involved in cell wall synthesis lets researchers build a method of looking for molecules that will disturb the balance between them. "It offers a completely different way of looking for a new antibiotic that would be active against the cell wall," Brown said.

Source: McMaster University (news : web)

Explore further: Researchers use neutron scattering and supercomputing to study shape of a protein involved in cancer

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bacteria build walls to withstand antibiotics

Nov 01, 2005

Antibiotic resistant bacteria, which are proliferating in hospitals and causing major headaches for physicians, cheat death by finding ways to fortify their cell walls against the deadly drugs. The question is: how? New res ...

Researchers analyze how new anti-MRSA abtibiotics function

Jul 28, 2008

A new paper by Shahriar Mobashery, Navari Family Professor in Life Sciences at the University of Notre Dame, and researchers in his lab provides important insights into promising new antibiotics aimed at combating MRSA.

Nanotechnology used to probe effectiveness of antibiotics

Feb 04, 2009

A group of researchers led by scientists from the London Centre for Nanotechnology, in collaboration with a University of Queensland researcher, have discovered a way of using tiny nano-probes to help understand how an antibiotic ...

New antibiotic beats superbugs at their own game

Jul 03, 2008

The problem with antibiotics is that, eventually, bacteria outsmart them and become resistant. But by targeting the gene that confers such resistance, a new drug may be able to finally outwit them. Rockefeller ...

Old antibiotic is finally synthesized

Nov 27, 2006

The need for new antibiotics to combat multi-drug resistant bacteria has led U.S. chemists to the first synthesis of a potentially valuable antibiotic.

Recommended for you

SANS: a unique technique to look inside plants' leaves

8 hours ago

Plants' leaves capture the sunlight and convert it into the energy used to produce nutrients for their activities. This process is accomplished thanks to the presence of the thylakoid membrane system. While ...

Silver shines as antibacterial for medical implants

Mar 24, 2015

There have been growing concerns in the global health care system about the eradication of pathogens in hospitals and other patient-care environments. Overuse of antibiotics and antimicrobial agents has contributed ...

Fat turns from diabetes foe to potential treatment

Mar 24, 2015

A new weapon in the war against type 2 diabetes is coming in an unexpected form: fat. Researchers have discovered a new class of potentially therapeutic lipids, called fatty-acid esters of hydroxy fatty acids (FAHFAs). These ...

User comments : 6

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet May 28, 2009
Oddly enough, Jim Humble's MMS kills all superbugs, so no need for new anti-biotics created by corporations, autism inducing vaccines enforced by governments, or studies funded by corporations for their own interests.

At $0.05 per cure, you can see why no one in the pharmaceutical business wants such a simple cure to exist.

People have been killed over this one already.

With 10's to 100's of billions of $$ and control over societies at stake, you might be able to imagine why. Hell, it makes swine flu and avian flu even any possible re-combination a ZERO threat, overnight. Too bad- no one makes any money off it and no one gets to scare monger the planet into submission.

As stated, you can see why people are dying over the idea of promoting it.
not rated yet May 28, 2009
I think KBK is deluded....

Autism-inducing vaccines? Are you kidding me?
not rated yet May 29, 2009
Methinks you have not done the research.
not rated yet May 29, 2009
Yes YOU too can be cured of aids, syphilis, cancer and poor personal hygiene by taking MMS! I took it for 2 days and it even fixed my car's brakes! It's truly a miracle!

Once you've joined his mailing list you can also receive fantastic offers on beachfront property in Idaho!
not rated yet May 29, 2009
An even better solution is to use our own immune system to fight such infections. But that would mean quality food, clean water, lots of sunshine, minimal stress and enough vitamins and minerals. But investing in antibiotics is so much more profitable.
not rated yet May 30, 2009
"As the best drugs become increasingly resistant to superbugs,..."

Shome mistake, surely.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.