Octapeptin: 'Forgotten' antibiotic offers hope against worst superbugs

January 25, 2018, University of Queensland
Staphylococcus aureus - Antibiotics Test plate. Credit: CDC

An antibiotic overlooked since its discovery 40 years ago could help develop new drugs against life-threatening infections caused by some of the world's most dangerous superbugs.

University of Queensland Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) researchers synthesised the antibiotic, and increased its effectiveness against extensively drug-resistant bacteria, then collaborated with Monash University to evaluate the drug using animal models of infection.

Professor Matt Cooper, Director of IMB's Centre for Superbug Solutions, said the study was prompted by the urgent need for to counter widespread resistance to last-resort treatments.

"Octapeptins were discovered in the late 1970s but were not selected for development at the time, as there was an abundance of with thousands of people working in antibiotic research and development," Professor Cooper said.

"Given the very few researchers left in this field now, and the sparse pipeline for new antibiotics, we've used modern drug discovery procedures to re-evaluate its effectiveness against superbugs."

Professor Cooper said there were no new classes of antibiotics available for Gram-negative bacteria, with increasing incidence of extensive drug resistance around the world.

"Gram-negative bacteria are harder to kill as disease organisms, because they have an extra membrane to penetrate that is often hidden by a capsule or slime layer which acts to camouflage them from drugs and our immune system," he said.

"The emergence of resistance to meropenem, and now colistin, the antibiotic of last resort, means multi-drug and extensively -resistant bacteria are now a reality confronting clinicians.

"Octapeptin showed superior antimicrobial activity to colistin against extensively resistant Gram-negative bacteria in early pre-clinical testing.

"In addition, octapeptin was shown to be potentially less toxic to the kidneys than colistin."

Professor Cooper said the study laid the foundation for the development of a new generation of to treat life-threatening infections.

The study is published in Cell Chemical Biology.

Explore further: Supercharged antibiotics could turn tide against superbugs

More information: Cell Chemical Biology (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2018.01.005

Related Stories

Novel therapies for multidrug-resistant bacteria

October 23, 2017

During this innovative study published in PLOS One, researchers found that novel classes of compounds, such as metal-complexes, can be used as alternatives to or to supplement traditional antibiotics, which have become ineffective ...

Key to 'superbug' antibiotic resistance discovered

May 16, 2017

An international study led by Monash University has discovered the molecular mechanism by which the potentially deadly superbug 'Golden Staph' evades antibiotic treatment, providing the first important clues on how to counter ...

Understanding drug-resistant superbugs

July 18, 2016

News reports reveal drug-resistant super bacteria identified as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) have been found in the waters of Rio de Janeiro where the 2016 Olympics sailing events will be held.

Recommended for you

Field-responsive mechanical metamaterials (FRMMs)

December 11, 2018

In a recent study published in Science Advances, materials scientists Julie A. Jackson and colleagues presented a new class of materials architecture called field-responsive mechanical metamaterials (FRMM). The FRMMs exhibit ...

CRISPR method for conditional gene regulation

December 11, 2018

A team of engineers at the University of Delaware has developed a method to use CRISPR/Cas9 technology to set off a cascade of activities in cells, a phenomenon known as conditional gene regulation. Their method, described ...

Researchers develop smartphone-based ovulation test

December 11, 2018

Investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital are developing an automated, low-cost tool to predict a woman's ovulation and aid in family planning. Capitalizing on advancements in several areas, including microfluidics, ...

3 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rrwillsj
3 / 5 (2) Jan 25, 2018
"Sometimes, grasping at straws is all you have."

Here's hoping that Octapeptin turns out to be lethal for at least some of the 'Superbugs' and not too toxic for already compromised patients.

For at least long enough for any of the still developing new treatments and technology to become available.
Parsec
5 / 5 (2) Jan 25, 2018
A lot of patients infected with these superbugs are as healthy as you or me. You do not have to have a compromised immune system to be vulnerable.

I know that from personal experience. Twice.
rrwillsj
1 / 5 (1) Jan 26, 2018
Parsec, If it's not too personal-emotional traumatic for you to reveal? I will not be offended if you refuse or simply disregard my questions.

Which treatment did you have a toxic reaction to?

Were there any overlaps in superbugs and your reaction to treatment?

What are you doing differently now in your lifestyle? To try and avoid a third infection.

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.