New way to fight bacteria studied

Sept. 28, 2009 at 4:05 PM
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HAMILTON, Ontario, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Canadian researchers say they've identified a chemical compound that targets drug-resistant bacteria in a different way from existing antibiotics.

McMaster University scientists say their discovery is an ideal starting point to develop new interventions for resistant infections. Despite the need for new treatment options, the scientists note there have been only two new classes of antibiotics developed during the last 40 years.

Professor Eric Brown and colleagues from the Michael DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research said the compound could lead to new treatments to overcome antibiotic resistance in certain types of microorganisms.

"Everyone reads the headlines about drug-resistant bugs, it's a big problem," said Brown. "Really what we're trying to do is understand whether or not there are new ways to tackle this problem."

Existing antibiotics destroy bacteria by blocking production of its cell wall, DNA or protein. The new McMaster-discovered compound, MAC13243, is directed at blocking a particular step in the development of the bacteria's cell surface, which until now has not been recognized as a target for antibiotics.

"We're excited about finding a new probe of a relatively uncharted part of bacterial physiology," Brown said. "It's a new way of thinking about the problem."

The findings appear in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

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