A drug that can kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria could stave off the impending superbug crisis

For years, human civilization has been embroiled in a quiet public health crisis: Some of our antibiotics have stopped working. over-prescription of antibiotics We’ve turned bugs we can easily beat into super-pathogens even our best defenses are able to avoid, because they’ve evolved faster than we can find drugs to defeat them. can design. According to some estimates, antibiotic resistance may kill 10 million people annually by 2050. already, almost 1.27 million people die every year from infections for which drugs do little or nothing.

To make matters worse, new drugs that address this problem are not being developed fast enough, because there isn’t much benefit in developing new antibiotics. As previously reported by Salon, Big Pharma Most Abandoned Antibiotic Development, The problem continues to grow, leading to the emergence of new sexually transmitted infections who do not respond to standard antibiotics. Worse, climate change could also create drug-resistant superbugs even more dangerous,

However, researchers recently made a breakthrough with a new drug called PLG0206, which has been shown to be extremely potent against over 1200 different drug-resistant bacteria. The results were published in one more 16, with most of the research conducted by scientists at Peptilogics, a Pennsylvania-based biopharma company. The discovery marks a rare and much-needed human victory in the ongoing war against antibacterial resistance.

PLG0206 is an antimicrobial peptide composed of a chain of amino acids, or organic compounds, that appears in all living beings. If you chain enough amino acids together, you get what’s called a protein. Peptides are the same thing, only smaller, and are widely used in medicine, with insulin Being the best example.

in some peptides toxic properties Which can be weaponized against other microbes. Think of them as TNT against a tank. Our bodies produce a lot of peptides to fight off infections, but in the arms race between our immune system and invaders – such as bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites – sometimes “tanks” are the bombs we use. Better security than can be developed. The result can mean serious illness or death.

Biologists have been developing antimicrobial peptides for years, but they come with some limitations. can be some toxic to humans Or too rapidly metabolized by the liver and kidneys to be effective.

But the PLG0206 may be able to solve some of these and other problems. It just doesn’t seem well tolerated in humans also attack on biofilms, a slimy matrix of sugars that some bacteria produce to shield themselves from attack. Best of all, PLG0206 is unlikely to drive resistant mutations in the bacteria sampled, which means it could be an effective tool that will not degrade with use.

To test how effective PLG0206 could be, the researchers conducted a variety of experiments. First, they placed dozens of different strains of drug-resistant pathogens on agar plates containing 5 percent sheep’s blood and incubated them overnight.

A quarter of a millionth of a gram was enough to kill bacteria, which means PLG0206 is extremely potent.

They then added the peptide and measured it at various intervals to see how fast and effective PLG0206 was at destroying the infection. They repeated the experiment with more than a dozen common antibiotics, including colistin, known as “medicine of last resortBecause it has terrible side effects and is usually only used when all other drugs have failed. As a control, they also included microbial growth without drugs.

The peptide exhibited rapid bacteria-killing activity against approximately 1300 different drug-resistant pathogens, sometimes at concentrations up to 0.25 µg/ml. This means that just a quarter of a millionth of a gram was enough to kill bacteria, which means that PLG0206 is extremely potent.

But the researchers wanted to see how PLG0206 performed in animal models as well, so they purposefully infected rabbits and mice to see how well the peptide did at fighting certain diseases.

Rabbits that received cefazolin alone died within two weeks. But 75 percent of rabbits treated with PLG0206 had no bacterial culture upon their transplant, suggesting that this peptide can perform surgery in humans, much less likely to be mistaken.

The rabbits underwent surgery, which involved installing stainless steel wires on their legs and then injecting a strain of bacteria known to be . is called staphylococcus aureus in injury. This model simulates one of the most common and most serious complications of joint surgery in humans.

When doctors want to restore the function of a joint, they may perform a type of surgery called an arthroplasty And install a metal implant. However, such transplants are tantalizing the surface to form bacterial colonies and often cause difficult-to-treat infection,

After two days, giving the rabbits time to develop an infection, the researchers injected PLG0206 into the joints, as well as a common antibiotic cefazolin. Rabbits that received cefazolin alone died within two weeks. But 75 percent of rabbits treated with PLG0206 had no bacterial culture upon their transplant, suggesting that this peptide can perform surgery in humans, much less likely to be mistaken.

Researchers also gave urinary tract infections (UTIs) to several rats e coli, a bacterium that is notorious for causing food poisoning and UTIs. Mice were then administered with PLG0206 or gentamicin, another common antibiotic. After 24 hours, rats were euthanized with CO, their kidneys and bladders harvested, then ground in a homogenous mixture. Mouse organs were diluted with this solution, then placed on a Petri dish and the level of bacterial growth was measured.


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In most mice treated with PLG0206, even the low doses provided e coli Cultures are almost undetectable at levels similar to those of the gentamicin group. This suggests that PLG0206 may be another tool for fighting UTIs, which is good news as some UTIs are involved. e coli strains that are resistant to gentamicin,

The US Food and Drug Administration clearly sees great potential for PLG0206, as it provided Peptilogics last July”fast track” Designation for the treatment of arthroplasty infections. This designation speeds up The FDA’s process of developing and reviewing new drugs that meet unmet medical needs.

Not all drugs are approved under the fast track program, and it is Not always “fast” either, some fast-track drugs later going out not to work As well as originally thought. These results should also be taken with a grain of salt, given that many of the researchers involved are financially invested in the drug’s success. Nonetheless, all this is a good sign that the PLG0206 warrants at least a closer look.

In the past 60 years, only two new classes of antibiotics have entered the market, compared to Over 20 novel classes of antibiotics developed between 1930 and 1962. It doesn’t take long For pathogens to evolve resistance to our most potent tools, which means the so-called “golden age of antibiotics” may quickly subside. If there was something like this, it would be Establish modern medicine in the 19th centuryminor injuries, chemotherapy or even childbirth life threatening, We cannot develop new and better tools to fight infection faster.

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