United States scientists have re-engineered an important antibiotic as they make efforts to eradicate one of the world’s most threatening superbugs.
Their new version of vancomycin is strengthened in that it seems to be a thousand times more powerful than the old drug.
It has three ways of fighting bacteria, reducing the possibility of any bug dodging an attack.
But the results so far are still theoretical since it hasn’t been tested in animals and people.
The researchers working on the drug hope that it will come into use in the next five years as more tests become successful.
The war against bugs
Health experts have repeatedly warned that we may be in a post-antibiotic era in which some infections are resistant to all forms of treatment.
Among the most terrifying infections that caught the attention of the doctors is vancomycin-resistant enterococci or VRE.
The World Health Organization rates it as one of the drug-resistant bacteria posing the biggest threat to human health. Among its effects include dangerous wounds and bloodstream infections.
Some antibiotics still work against VRE, but the 60-year-old drug vancomycin is now powerless.
The team of scientists set out on a mission to try and rejuvenate the drug to restore its pathogen-killing capability.
Among the adjustments made include making the drug able to attack bacteria, destroying the cell walls.
Of the changes made, three seem to be more peculiar as they enhance the drug’s strength and durability.
“We made one change to the molecule vancomycin that overcomes what is the present resistance to vancomycin. And then we added to the molecule, two small changes that built into the molecule, two additional ways in which it can kill bacteria. So the antibiotic has three different, we call them ‘mechanisms’, by which it kills bacteria,” said Dr Dale Boger, a lead researcher.
Samples of VRE were exposed to the modified drug in the lab in which they got destroyed.