Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Crisis in Antibiotic Resistance and One Possible Solution

There is a looming public health crisis in regard to the growing incidences of infectious diseases that have become resistance to the usual repertoire of antibiotics. Insidious examples of this are the troublesome occurrence of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), especially in hospital settings, and antibiotic-resistance strains of such communicable diseases as Tuberculosis and Gonorrhea found throughout the United States and other parts of the world.

On account of this problem, there is an urgent need to discover new families of antibiotics that possess novel mechanisms for their action. Promising results have recently come from the laboratory of Dr. John A. Robinson from the Chemistry Department of the University of Zurich in Switzerland. Dr. Robinson and his colleagues have synthesized a new class of antibiotics they refer to as peptidomimetic antibiotics. This class of compounds is based on the naturally occurring antimicrobial peptide (a peptide is a small protein) called protegrin 1 (PG-1).

This group demonstrated that this type of antibiotic was particularly effective against Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA). This particular organism is ubiquitous and is particularly threatening to those individuals who have a compromised immune system, or suffer from a wound as a result of injury. If these bacteria infect the lungs, kidneys or the urinary tract, the results can be fatal.

These investigators clearly demonstrated that peptdiomimetic antibiotics protects against lethal infections in whole animal studies. Although, the particular antibiotic tested had no appreciable effect on other types of bacteria, it may have use against so-called nosocomial infections - infections that appear as a result of a prolonged stay in hospital - and lung infections in patients suffering from cystic fibrosis, who are especially susceptible to drug-resistant strains of PA.

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