Nav: Home

Metals could be the link to new antibiotics

February 26, 2020

Compounds containing metals could hold the key to the next generation of antibiotics to combat the growing threat of global antibiotic resistance.

University of Queensland researchers, working with a network of international collaborators, have discovered 23 previously unexplored compounds containing metals such as silver, manganese, zinc, ruthenium and iridium that have antibacterial and antifungal activity.

The study was led by Dr Mark Blaskovich, Dr Angelo Frei and Dr Johannes Zuegg of UQ's Centre for Superbug Solutions at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

"This is promising research because the scientific community is struggling to keep up with the pace of bacterial resistance," Dr Blaskovich said.

They found many of the metal compounds selectively kill cells of bacteria, including the potentially deadly methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), but not human cells.

"There are around 40 new antibiotics in clinical trials, which sounds encouraging until you compare this to the more than 1000 medicines and vaccines in clinical trials for cancer treatments," he said.

Dr Frei said almost 75 per cent of the antimicrobial medicines under development were derivatives of known and used antibiotics, making them potentially susceptible to existing bacterial resistance.

"Finding completely new types of antibiotics in these metal-containing compounds offers promise to outwit bacterial resistance, because they likely use different mechanisms which the bacteria have not encountered previously," Dr Frei said.

"In addition to activity against MRSA, some compounds were active against dangerous Gram-negative pathogens such as Escherichia coli and Acinetobacter baumannii, which have even fewer novel antibiotic treatments."

The research was conducted through the Community for Open Antimicrobial Drug Discovery (CO-ADD)--which was established in the labs of Professor Matt Cooper to offer a simple and free screening service to scientists worldwide with funding from the Wellcome Trust and UQ.

"We embarked on a quest to tap into the millions of compounds sitting unused on laboratory shelves, discarded because they don't fit the mould for common drug design," Dr Blaskovich said.

"We test these compounds to see if they have an effect on bacterial and fungal pathogens.

"So far we have received and screened 300,000 compounds, including nearly 1000 metal-containing compounds, from over 300 academic groups across 47 countries."

The research team hopes the findings will bring prompt new investment in antimicrobial research.

"Many pharmaceutical companies are bowing out of antibiotic research as there is little return on investment," Dr Frei said.

"So it is vital to raise awareness that metal complexes are a prospective source of truly novel antibiotics with potential for combatting antimicrobial resistance."

This research has been published in Chemical Science and is free to read.
-end-


University of Queensland

Related Bacteria Articles:

Siblings can also differ from one another in bacteria
A research team from the University of Tübingen and the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) is investigating how pathogens influence the immune response of their host with genetic variation.
How bacteria fertilize soya
Soya and clover have their very own fertiliser factories in their roots, where bacteria manufacture ammonium, which is crucial for plant growth.
Bacteria might help other bacteria to tolerate antibiotics better
A new paper by the Dynamical Systems Biology lab at UPF shows that the response by bacteria to antibiotics may depend on other species of bacteria they live with, in such a way that some bacteria may make others more tolerant to antibiotics.
Two-faced bacteria
The gut microbiome, which is a collection of numerous beneficial bacteria species, is key to our overall well-being and good health.
Microcensus in bacteria
Bacillus subtilis can determine proportions of different groups within a mixed population.
Right beneath the skin we all have the same bacteria
In the dermis skin layer, the same bacteria are found across age and gender.
Bacteria must be 'stressed out' to divide
Bacterial cell division is controlled by both enzymatic activity and mechanical forces, which work together to control its timing and location, a new study from EPFL finds.
How bees live with bacteria
More than 90 percent of all bee species are not organized in colonies, but fight their way through life alone.
The bacteria building your baby
Australian researchers have laid to rest a longstanding controversy: is the womb sterile?
Hopping bacteria
Scientists have long known that key models of bacterial movement in real-world conditions are flawed.
More Bacteria News and Bacteria Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Sound And Silence
Sound surrounds us, from cacophony even to silence. But depending on how we hear, the world can be a different auditory experience for each of us. This hour, TED speakers explore the science of sound. Guests on the show include NPR All Things Considered host Mary Louise Kelly, neuroscientist Jim Hudspeth, writer Rebecca Knill, and sound designer Dallas Taylor.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Kittens Kick The Giggly Blue Robot All Summer
With the recent passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there's been a lot of debate about how much power the Supreme Court should really have. We think of the Supreme Court justices as all-powerful beings, issuing momentous rulings from on high. But they haven't always been so, you know, supreme. On this episode, we go all the way back to the case that, in a lot of ways, started it all.  Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.