An Antibiotic to Kill Superbugs?

Jane Akre
June 15, 2017
Staph medical illustration, CDC

Mesh Medical Device News Desk, June 15, 2017 ~ Could alterations to the  standard antibiotic, vancomycin, provide an answer to treat some antibiotic-resistant Superbugs?

Superbugs, as they are known, have evolved faster than the antibiotics created to fight them.

Every year more than two million people get antibiotic-resistant infections, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

At least 23,000 of those people die when the drugs to treat them are no longer effective.

Especially in a hospital setting, Superbugs, often the Enterococci bacteria, can cause dangerous wound and blood infections.

CNN  recently announced a Superbug strain found in a Pennsylvania woman, that no antibiotic can affect.

To slow the evolving and inevitable health crisis, a research team has reinvented an old strain of vancomycin, a 60-year-old antibiotic.  Vancomycin typically treats sepsis, skin infections, staph, Clostridium difficile, among other infections.

Modified into three versions, it is thought to be effective in fighting Enterococci bacteria. It not only increases cell permeability of the bacteria but is said to be more than 1,000 times as potent as standard vancomycin.

Re-engineering vancomycin will still not be effective against all forms of resistant bacterial.

The research team is from The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego.  The Scripps study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The new drug is not widely available until it undergoes clinical trials and animal testing.

Thousands die globally from untreatable conditions such as tuberculosis, blood poisoning, gonorrhea, staph, and pneumonia that are resistant to antibiotic treatment.

Vancomycin was already the drug of last resort because it indirectly attacked bacteria. But as often happens, bacteria evolve rather quickly to survive, resulting in the vancomycin-resistant enterococci or VRE.

Enterococci are an extremely hardy group of bacteria traced back to at least 425 to 450 million years, reports the San Diego Union Tribune.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health. ###

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