Science 3 min read

New Chemical Synthesis to Help Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Infections

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria kills thousands of people every year. Now, a new chemical synthesis could be the breakthrough researchers have been waiting for. | PublicDomainPictures |

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria kills thousands of people every year. Now, a new chemical synthesis could be the breakthrough researchers have been waiting for. | PublicDomainPictures |

Researchers just developed a new chemical synthesis procedure to help fight drug-resistant infections.

Researchers from the University of Colorado-Boulder just developed a chemical synthesis methodology to enhance a specific antibiotic compound known as the thiopeptides. According to the team, by optimizing the antibiotic compound through this procedure, drug-resistant infections like MRSA can finally be eliminated.

As per the data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than two million people in the United States suffer from antibiotic-resistant infections annually. Out of this figure, 23,000 die as a result of these infections. A similar study conducted by European researchers in 2015 claimed that around 33,000 annual deaths across Europe were caused by drug-resistant superbugs.

Previous studies already identified thiopeptides as a promising solution to the problem. A trial study revealed that thiopeptides are highly effective against MRSA and other bacterial species. However, the structural diversity of the antibiotic compound makes it challenging for scientists to synthesize its molecules at a scale large enough for it to be used in treatments.

Read More: 8,000 New Drug Combinations Created To Fight Antibiotic Resistance

The New Chemical Synthesis

“We re-evaluated the structural commonalities of these thiopeptides in light of current superbugs because no one had looked at them and analyzed them in modern context,”  Maciej Walczak, an assistant professor from the CU-Boulder’s Department of Chemistry and lead author of the research, said.

Walczak’z team created a new catalyst that triggers reactions needed in facilitating the chemical synthesis of the thiopeptides. The process then allows the formation of the scaffolding required in curtailing bacterial growth. The method allegedly resulted in two new antibiotics, the micrococcin P1 and thiocillin I, which are both efficient, scalable, and have no dangerous byproducts.

“The results exceeded our expectations. It’s a very clean reaction. The only waste produced is water and the fact that this is a very green method could be important going forward as the technology scales up,” Walczak further said.

The researchers admit that the chemical synthesis is just the beginning and that the two antibiotic compounds must go through successful clinical trials to be approved for human use. The team is now planning to use their findings in selecting and rationing portions of the thiopeptide molecules to further optimize their capabilities and use them against other bacterial classes.

Walczak and his team’s study was funded by the National Science Foundation and was published in the journal Chemical Science.

Do you believe that this new chemical synthesis methodology is the solution we need to fight lethal antibiotic-resistant infections?

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Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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