New broad range antibiotic fights resistant bacteria

A new antibiotic, developed by Rockefeller University and Astex Pharmaceuticals, kills a wide range of bacteria, including drug-resistant strands that did not previously respond to traditional medicine.

This new antibiotic, Epimerox, targets phage, the weaknesses in bacteria that have been exposed by viral attacks, and has been proven to kill a range of bacteria including Staphylococcus. Epimerox has also shown to protect animals from Bacillus anthracis, the bacteria responsible for anthrax.

Target selection is a key aspect of antimicrobial agent development. Identifying the probability of a cellular pathway's potential development of resistance is also vital to create an effective vaccine.

"We're taking advantage of what phage have 'learned' during this period for us to identify new antibiotic targets that we believe will escape the problem of resistance found for other antibiotics," Professor and head of the Laboratory of Bacterial Pathogenesis and Immunology Vincent A. Fischetti said.

In a study of Epimerox on mice, it was found that the vaccine not only protected the animals from Bacillus anthracis, but also prevented the bacteria from developing resistance to the vaccine. The study also found the inhibitor to kill methicillin-resistant Staphylococccus aureus with no sign of resistance developing against the inhibitor.

"Since nearly all Gram-positive bacteria contain 2-epimerase, we believe that Epimerox should be an effective broad-range antibiotic agent," Fischetti said. "It is an encouraging result at a time when antibiotic resistance is a major health concern."