Scientists Create First-Antibiotic Free Drug
The first-ever antibiotic-free drug has been developed, a new study reported. According to the team of scientists, the drug could potentially be used to treat the methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) superbug.
The scientists from Micreos, a Dutch biotech company, reported using this new drug, called Staphefket, to cure five out of six patients with MRSA skin infections. In this small trial, the researchers had only recruited patients who had eczema, contact dermatitis and other kinds of skin problems. The team also tested the drug on 36 strains of bacteria with eight of them being MRSA.
"It's a new molecule designed from fragments that already exist in nature," said Br Bjorn Herpers, a clinical microbiologist involved in the trial, reported by Forbes. "The results are exciting, and demonstrate the potential this technology has to revolutionize the way we treat certain bacterial infections."
Staphefket works by latching on to the outer wall of the bacteria cell. With the help of an enzyme called endolysins, the drug causes the cell wall to degrade, which ends up killing the bacteria. The scientists believe that since endolysins tend to evolve with the bacteria, unlike antibiotics, the bacteria will have a harder time adjusting and adapting, which would lower their likelihood of developing resistance. The development of antibiotic strains occurred when bacteria evolved and developed thicker outer membranes that could no longer be penetrated by antibiotics.
"With the introduction of Staphefekt, we enter a new era in the fight against antibiotic resistant bacteria, targeting only the unwanted bacteria," said Mark offerhaus, the chief executive of Micreos. "This is a far more logical and elegant approach."
The research was presented at the Antibiotic Alternatives for the New Millennium conference in London.