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New Class of Antibiotics Discovered: Odilorhabdins; IBM Uses Synthetic Polymers to Kill Bacteria

Accepted submission by takyon at 2018-04-15 21:14:34
Science

A new class of antibiotics to combat drug resistance [uic.edu]

Called odilorhabdins, or ODLs, the antibiotics are produced by symbiotic bacteria found in soil-dwelling nematode worms that colonize insects for food. The bacteria help to kill the insect and, importantly, secrete the antibiotic to keep competing bacteria away. Until now, these nematode-associated bacteria and the antibiotics they make have been largely understudied.

[...] UIC's Alexander Mankin and Yury Polikanov are corresponding authors on the study and led the research on the antibiotic's mechanism of action. They found that ODLs act on the ribosome — the molecular machine of individual cells that makes the proteins it needs to function — of bacterial cells. "Like many clinically useful antibiotics, ODLs work by targeting the ribosome," said Polikanov, assistant professor of biological sciences in the UIC College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, "but ODLs are unique because they bind to a place on the ribosome that has never been used by other known antibiotics."

Odilorhabdins, Antibacterial Agents that Cause Miscoding by Binding at a New Ribosomal Site [cell.com] (DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2018.03.001) (DX [doi.org])

Meanwhile, an IBM research team has designed a polymer [chicagotribune.com] that can target at least five types of drug-resistant bacteria:

Earlier versions of synthetic polymers created problems because they essentially exploded the bacteria, releasing dangerous toxins into the bloodstream. While other scientists are researching different approaches to avoid resistance, most involve finding new molecules or proteins. IBM's synthetic molecule employs a completely different strategy.

It carries a negative electrical charge, so is drawn — like a magnet — to the positively charged surfaces of infectious cells. Then it binds to the cell, pierces the membrane, enters it and turns the inner liquid contents into solids. The new ninja polymer kills bacteria so quickly, they don't have time to mutate.

The eventual goal, said Hedrick, is to create an entirely new class of therapeutics that could treat a spectrum of infectious diseases with a single mechanism — without the onset of resistance.

Also at IBM [ibm.com].

A macromolecular approach to eradicate multidrug resistant bacterial infections while mitigating drug resistance onset [nature.com] (open, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-03325-6) (DX [doi.org])


Original Submission