By Leili Najmabadi
Bacteria have consistently been able to adapt and mutate to become resistant to antibiotics; however, researchers at Oregon State University have recently found a potential solution to this age-long story. If solutions are not found to control a bug’s ability to become resistant to antibiotics, antibiotics will essentially become ineffective, leaving the body defenseless. Previous to this OSU finding, scientists had attempted in developing entirely new drugs that bacteria had never seen before, but they soon found that changing existing antibiotics could be beneficial in itself. They have created a molecule, a peptide-conjugated phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomer, better known as a PPMO, which limits a specific enzyme from being able to give bacteria resistance. This enzyme is named New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM-1). Scientists only need to create one successful PPMO since the same resistance gene is found in most pathogens. This one molecule can not only inhibit a critical enzyme, but it can also be used with antibiotics that were no longer competent because of bacterial resistance to make them useful again.
The new PPMO was put in an in vitro setting with the antibiotic meropenem and was effective in combating three groups of bacteria containing NDM-1. The discovery proved to have the same results when tested on mice with E. Coli, a bacterium that also contains NDM-1. According to OSU’s Bruce Geller, human testing is likely to begin in three years.
Oregon State University. "Molecule shows ability to thwart pathogens' genetic resistance to antibiotic." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 January 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170118125220.htm>.