Another tool in the war against “superbugs”

Researchers have developed a new polymyxin-like lipopeptide to kill multidrug-resistant microbes (superbugs).  In the past, when facing bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, doctors could prescribe polymyxins.  Polymyxins are lipopeptides that kill bacteria by binding to a component of the cell wall and disrupting ionic and hydrophobic interactions.  Polymyxin-resistant bacteria have evolved so that they prevent polymyxins from binding with them and causing any disruptions in their cell walls.  By looking at where the resistance comes from structurally (changes in the lipid that affect hydrophobic interactions with the drug), they were able to determine modifications of the polymyxin that would stabilize the binding of the drug to the cell wall. 

We have one more tool in the war between humans and bacteria.  How long before the bacteria figure this one out and evolve yet again…who knows…probably faster than we would like…

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