Biologists at UC San Diego have found that a method they developed to identify and characterize new antibiotics can be employed to screen natural products quickly for compounds capable of controlling antibiotic resistant bacteria.
The researchers say their latest discovery could permit chemists and others to understand how mixtures of potential antibiotics from microorganisms work without first purifying them. It builds on their development two years ago of a new way to rapidly identify new compounds capable of killing bacteria.
Researcher Kit Pogliano said that the method is a powerful way to identify antibiotics from natural products and understand how they work before they are ever purified, potentially shaving years off of screening efforts by identifying which organisms and growth conditions produce interesting bioactive molecules.
Pogliano noted that some bacteria have evolved resistance to every known class of antibiotic and when these multi-drug resistant bacteria cause an infection, they are nearly impossible to treat. There is an urgent need for new antibiotics capable of treating infections caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Antibiotic resistance is increasing at an alarming rate. The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, a publication established to produce an analysis of the global problems of antimicrobial resistance, recently predicted that by 2050, the worldwide toll from drug resistant bacterial infections could reach 10 million deaths per year, more than cancer (8.2 million) and diabetes (1.5 million) combined.
The study is published in the Journal of Antibiotics.