80-Year-Old Forgotten Antibiotic Shows Promise Against Drug-Resistant Bacterial Infections

By: | May 24th, 2023

Drug-resistant bacterial infections cause significant mortality worldwide. Studies indicate that more than 1.2 million lives are lost annually due to antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance has rendered many commonly used drugs ineffective against certain bacterial strains. As a result, infections that were once easily treatable now become challenging to manage. This leads to prolonged illnesses, increased healthcare costs, and higher mortality rates.

Despite the growing threats of antibiotic resistance, there is an alarming absence of new antibiotics introduced for public use in the last four decades. Compounding the problem is the overprescribing of antibiotics by doctors, which contributes to the worsening antimicrobial resistance crisis.

Amid prevailing challenges, a ray of hope has emerged.

Scientists globally have been actively engaged in a race to discover and develop new antibiotics. But a group of researchers from Harvard Medical School have discovered that an 80-year-old antibiotic holds the potential in protecting against drug-resistant bacterial infections.

The antibiotic known as nourseothricin was discovered in 1940, it is a form of streptothricins, a class of antibiotics. But it was abandoned because it proved to be extremely toxic to kidneys.

Streptothricin F is highly effective, even against the most dangerous pathogens.

In this recent study, researchers have identified a unique characteristic of streptothricin-F, setting it apart from other antibiotics in its group. This particular molecule exhibits reduced toxicity while demonstrating remarkable efficacy against contemporary drug-resistant bacteria.

Streptothricins works in a unique way, which allows them to avoid commonly circulating resistance mechanisms.

There is hope that streptothricin-F will emerge as a potent solution against a wide range of multi-drug-resistant bacteria. But further research is crucial to explore its full potential and assess its efficacy in combating various drug-resistant strains.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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