What is antimicrobial resistance?
Antimicrobial resistance is the phenomenon where microscopic organisms like bacteria, fungi, and viruses change certain components within them over time and no longer respond to drugs to which they were previously susceptible. This makes infections caused by them to be difficult to treat, increasing the risk of severe illness and disease spread. The number of bacteria that are resistant to the available treatment options is on the up and very few new drugs are being produced to address this problem.
According to the WHO antimicrobial resistance is one of the top 10 public health problems worldwide. They estimate the problem of antimicrobial resistance could lead to the loss of 10 million lives yearly and a significant economic burden by the year 2050 if the current trend continues.
The most important cause of the development of antimicrobial resistance is the inappropriate use of medicines which may include – incorrect doses, substandard drugs, wrong prescription, and not complying with the doctor’s prescription.
A Wistar Institute Research
Scientists at Wistar Institute aim at identifying a new generation of antibiotics called the Dual-Acting immuno-antibiotics (DAIAs). They have discovered a drug compound using a double prong strategy which can destroy difficult to treat infections caused by resistant organisms while also boosting the natural host immunity thus acting in two different ways.
How does It work?
The newly formulated compound attacks bacteria from two different fronts making it difficult for them to develop resistance and consequently succumb to the effects of the compound.
The team of researchers formulated the compound targeting a molecular pathway in bacteria. The end-product of the pathway is a molecule called isoprenoids which is crucial for the survival of the resistant bacteria. This pathway is however not present in humans.
ISPH enzyme is a crucial enzyme of the pathway which is necessary for the synthesis of isoprenoids. The compound formulated by the researchers at Wistar Institute acts by inactivating this crucial enzyme, leading to bacterial death. The researchers used multiple drugs to check which acts best against these enzymes and selected the one with maximum potency to aid the discovery of the new compound.
Also, older inhibitors of the ISPH enzyme were found to be unable to cross the bacterial cell wall, so efforts were made to develop novel ISPH inhibitor compounds that can do so.
Results of the Study
The team of researchers was successful in demonstrating that the compound had potent bacterial killing and immune system stimulating activity that was more than the current best antibiotics used for the same purpose.
The newly formulated compound’s potency was assessed on in-vitro clinical isolates of resistant bacteria which were found to be better than traditional antibiotics. Also, the compounds were found to not be harmful to humans.
The results of the study show that the DAIA strategy might be a potential game-changer in how we deal with the ever-rising problem of Antimicrobial resistance.