New Class of Antibiotics Looks Promising

Researchers at a UK university have developed a new teixobactin antibiotic that is effective against MSRA. 

Scientists at the University of Lincoln led by Ishwar Singh, have identified the amino acid functionality within the new antibiotic teixobactin that makes it effective against multi-drug resistant infections such as MRSA. With this knowledge, the scientists have been able to develop simpler forms of the drug that are easier to synthesize.

New antibiotics are needed as more and more bacteria become resistant to even the most powerful drugs available today. Drug-resistant bacteria will affect up to 10 million additional people each year by 2050. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is perhaps the best known antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It is resistant to most commonly used antibiotics, typically infects people in hospitals and is difficult to treat.

Teixobactin is one the first new antibiotics that are highly effective against bacteria like MSRA, discovered in recent years. Like most other antibiotics it was isolated from soil microorganisms. It is particularly promising due to its mechanism of action, which is believed to preclude development of any resistance.

Unfortunately enduracididine, the amino acid within teixobactin—that is in large part responsible for the effectiveness of the drug, is “extremely difficult, time-consuming and expensive to synthetically produce,” according to Singh. “Enduracididine, is important for high potency but it has also been a bottleneck in the wider production of powerful teixobactin derivatives and their advancement as new drugs,” he adds.

Many different research groups have attempted to synthesize the key amino acid structure within teioxbactin using commercially available raw materials, but these derivatives have not exhibited the high level of effectiveness observed for the natural compound.

In 2016, Singh’s group developed several derivatives of teixobactin containing amino acids with structures and functional groups similar to those in the natural molecule after establishing its 3D molecular structure. These derivatives are easier to manufacture, with three in particular found to have a similar potency to teixobactin. Singh is working with other researchers at the University of Lincoln to develop a commercial antibiotic based on these teixobactin compounds.


Emilie Branch

Emilie is responsible for strategic content development based on scientific areas of specialty for Nice Insight research articles and for assisting client content development across a range of industry channels. Prior to joining Nice Insight, Emilie worked at a strategy-based consulting firm focused on consumer ethnographic research. She also has experience as a contributing editor, and has worked as a freelance writer for a host of news and trends-related publications