Plant pathogen breaking ground in combating bacterial infections
Researchers discover a pathogen lethal to sugarcanes that can act as an antibacterial agent.
A new plant pathogen has been discovered, revealing a potential new method for combatting the threat of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. With such bacterial infections becoming a major threat, this pathogen is paving the way for the presence of an antibacterial agent that is said to work like nothing else ever deployed in medicine.
New route exploited to tackle bacterial disease
Under the name of Albicidin, this pathogen is known to cause disease in sugarcane, called leaf scald. A new study looking at the mechanism it uses to attack lifeforms found that Albicidin works as a DNA topoisomerase inhibitor, and has been seen to attack bacteria in a totally different way than common antibiotics such as fluoroquinolones.
Topoisomerases are nuclear enzymes that play essential roles in DNA replication, transcription, recombination, and chromosome segregation. In the study, Albicidin was found to efficiently lock DNA gyrase in antibiotic-resistant E. coli, causing double-strand DNA breaks, and eventual cell death, which has raised several questions in the field.
A researcher in a British-German-Polish group that studied the potential antibiotic at the John Innes Center in Norwich, UK, Dmitry Ghilarov stated that they could not elicit any resistance towards Albicidin in the laboratory.
He then proceeds to add that they are excited because they believe it will be very hard for bacteria to evolve resistance against Albicidin-derived antibiotics, which is a sign of positive results.
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Given the challenges that antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections bring to the field of conventional medicine today, and that its fatality rate is more than that of COVID-19, it is astonishing that developing innovative methods to combat these sort of infections have been largely neglected by major pharmaceutical companies.
“Now we have a structural understanding, we can create modifications of Albicidin to improve its efficacy and pharmacological properties,” said Ghilarov.
“We believe this is one of the most exciting new antibiotic candidates in many years. It has extremely high effectiveness in small concentrations and is highly potent against pathogenic bacteria—even those resistant to the widely used antibiotics such as fluoroquinolones.”, he adds.
Potential development of new class of pharmaceuticals
With the idea that a unique method of dispatching bacteria could be used to create a powerful new range of antibiotics, a wide range of research is being conducted in the field, including animal-infected models, which have already established both safety and efficacy in two derivatives of Albicidin.
In an attempt to explore this matter more deeply, researchers have shown that inhibitors of DNA gyrase represent an untapped reservoir of potential antibiotic compounds that may aid us expand the field onwards upon an instructional understanding of the processes. With its high effectiveness in small doses, and promising results thus far, this may lead to the development of a whole new class of pharmaceuticals.