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Scientists discover new method of creating antibiotics
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Scientists discover new method of creating antibiotics

13/07/17Health

Cancer researchers in the UK have revealed they may have identified a solution to reverse antibiotic drug resistance and stop infections like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Experts have warned that society is decades behind in the race against superbugs having already exploited naturally occurring antibiotics, with the creation of new ones requiring time, money and ingenuity.

However, a team of scientists at the University of Salford say they may have found a very simple way forward.

They have created and validated several new antibiotics already.

Michael P Lisanti, chair of Translational Medicine at the University’s Biomedical Research Centre, said: “A little like Alexander Fleming, we weren’t even looking for antibiotics, rather researching into new compounds that might be effective against cancer stem cells.”

Dr Federica Sotgia, a co-author on the study, added: “I think we’ve accidentally invented a systemic way of creating new antibiotics which is simple, cheap and could be very significant in the fight against superbugs.”

The group of scientists specialise in cancer stem cells and methods of inhibiting energy production in mitochondria.

“Mitochondria and bacteria have a lot in common,” said Lisanti. “We began thinking that if what we found inhibited mitochondria, it would also kill bacteria. So, these new anti-cancer agents should also be potential antibiotics.”

The team organised 45,000 compounds, using a three-dimensional structure of the mitochondrial ribosome.

They identified 800 small molecules which might inhibit mitochondria based on their structural characteristics and then reduced this to the most promising ten compounds, which they discovered using traditional phenotypic drug screening.

Their results highlighted that these synthetic compounds – without any additional chemical engineering – inhibited a broad spectrum of five types of common bacteria, including Streptococcus, Pseudomonas, E. coli and MRSA.

The full findings are scheduled to appear in the journal Oncotarget.