Key milestone towards the development of a new clinically useful antibiotic

July 12, 2010

Scientists have identified the genes necessary for making a highly potent and clinically unexploited antibiotic in the fight against multi-resistant pathogens.

"Lantibiotics are antibiotic molecules produced by soil bacteria, and we are studying probably the most potent one known, microbisporicin, which is active against many different pathogens," said Professor Mervyn Bibb from the John Innes Centre, co-author on the paper to be published in PNAS.

"Our study has allowed us to understand how the antibiotic is made by a that was first isolated from Indonesian soil. Now we can engineer the bacterium to make similar but better molecules, and lots of them."

"For example, we can take rational approaches to improve its pharmacological properties, such as its stability in the blood stream and how it distributes into tissues."

The producing bacterium, Microbispora corallina, is difficult to work with. It grows very slowly and no tools existed for its . PhD student Lucy Foulston developed the tools herself. She then took advantage of new developments in genome sequencing to identify and then isolate the M. corallina gene cluster responsible for microbisporicin production.

This allowed her to analyse how the bacterium makes the molecule and the functions of the genes involved. Notably, she was able to identify the genes responsible for giving microbisporicin some of its unique features.

The antibiotic molecule binds to a well established target in the it kills, and as yet there are no signs of resistance towards it.

Microbisporicin is very effective at killing disease-causing bacteria, including Clostridium difficile, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin resistant pathogens.

"This molecule is already in late preclinical-phase trials and in animal models has shown to be more effective than the current drugs of last resort, linezolid and ," said Professor Bibb.

"We believe that this study will make a major contribution to the future clinical development of this exciting antibiotic, and the derivatives that can be made using the knowledge and technology that we have developed."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Engineered protein treatment found to reduce obesity in mice, rats and primates

October 19, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers with pharmaceutical company Amgen Inc. report that an engineered version of a protein naturally found in the body caused test mice, rats and cynomolgus monkeys to lose weight. In their ...

New procedure enables cultivation of human brain sections in the petri dish

October 19, 2017
Researchers at the University of Tübingen have become the first to keep human brain tissue alive outside the body for several weeks. The researchers, headed by Dr. Niklas Schwarz, Dr. Henner Koch and Dr. Thomas Wuttke at ...

Cancer drug found to offer promising results in treating sepsis in test mice

October 19, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A combined team of researchers from China and the U.S. has found that a drug commonly used to treat lung cancer in humans offers a degree of protection against sepsis in test mice. In their paper published ...

Tracing cell death pathway points to drug targets for brain damage, kidney injury, asthma

October 19, 2017
University of Pittsburgh scientists are unlocking the complexities of a recently discovered cell death process that plays a key role in health and disease, and new findings link their discovery to asthma, kidney injury and ...

Study reveals key molecular link in major cell growth pathway

October 19, 2017
A team of scientists led by Whitehead Institute has uncovered a surprising molecular link that connects how cells regulate growth with how they sense and make available the nutrients required for growth. Their work, which ...

Inflammation trains the skin to heal faster

October 18, 2017
Scars may fade, but the skin remembers. New research from The Rockefeller University reveals that wounds or other harmful, inflammation-provoking experiences impart long-lasting memories to stem cells residing in the skin, ...

0 comments

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.